Insanity plea granted, pot busts lead year in crime
by Nick Rappley | Patterson Irrigator
Dec 30, 2013 | 2495 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Castro Valley woman, who was declared insane after drowning her daughter in a bathtub in a west Patterson home in January 2010, was released January 22, after a judge found that she was mentally incompetent.

Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Thomas D. Zeff had ruled in December 2012 that Jennifer Lynn Bigham was insane on January 14, 2010 when she drowned her 3-year-old daughter Alexandrea, and was therefore not guilty.

He determined that her sanity was legally restored and she could be released from custody because she no longer required treatment in January.

The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s office previously had charged Bigham with child abuse resulting in death and battery on a paramedic after the 2010 drowning at a relative's home on Thrush Drive.

Emergency crews responded at about 6 p.m. that evening. Paramedics administered CPR, and the girl was flown by helicopter to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, according to sheriff officials. Doctors continued to attempt life-saving measures on the girl at the hospital, but she was declared dead three hours later.

Bigham was treated at a Modesto hospital for superficial, self-inflicted stab wounds to her chest that night and released into custody the next day.

Wal-Mart Bomb Scare

Patterson's Wal-Mart received a bomb threat Friday evening, March 15, prompting employees and shoppers to evacuate the store.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Bomb Squad determined no explosives were in or near the supercenter however, and the store later resumed business.

Staff at Wal-Mart, at Sperry and Ward avenues, received a phone call at about 7:10 p.m. regarding a suspicious package or packages that were placed near a bicycle behind the building, according to police at the scene.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Bomb Squad, which arrived with a bomb-destroying robot at 8:10 p.m., had determined just before 9 p.m. that there were no suspicious packages behind the store.

Wal-Mart management allowed staff to resume work shortly before 9:30 p.m., and the store was reopened to shoppers.

The March incident came after similar bomb threats were made at several Wal-Mart stores throughout the nation that week, including one in the Yuba County town of Linda on Tuesday, March 12, according to the Marysville Appeal-Democrat. No bombs were found in any of those prior incidents.

Patterson men arrested in June Turlock drive-by

Turlock Police announced the arrest in Modesto of two Patterson men in connection with a June 23 drive-by shooting on the 600 block of Birchwood Way in south Turlock.

Turlock Police served two search warrants— one in Modesto on July 17 and the other on the 600 block of Pine Creek Drive in Patterson later that same day, arresting Leonardo Ortiz, 20, and Jose Ortiz, 22, of Patterson.

The two were arrested in Modesto and booked into the Stanislaus County Jail for discharging a firearm in a gross and negligent manner stemming from the original drive-by shooting, sales and cultivation of marijuana and possession of stolen property.

At the Patterson home, Turlock Police found two stolen firearms, marijuana, evidence of marijuana sales and cultivation, and approximately $2,000 in cash. An additional two pounds of marijuana were located in Leonardo Ortiz’ vehicle nearby.

Postal robbery on Sept. 11

Patterson Police Services and the U.S. Postal Service have offered a $50,000 reward for information linked to an armed robbery that occurred at the Patterson Post Office the late afternoon of September 11.

U.S. Postal Police say a highway contract route driver was robbed at gunpoint at the Patterson Post Office at 50 N. Salado, Ave. at 6:05 p.m. Police are still looking for a white male, approximately 30-years-old and 5-feet-8 to 5-feet-9 inches tall, 200 pounds with a bald or shaved head and wearing a fake beard. He was wearing a blue ball cap, brown long sleeve shirt and blue jeans. The man was last seen leaving the area of the post office in a light blue compact car with a spoiler and is armed and dangerous.

Pot busts headline October, November

The late fall was a busy time for Patterson Police Services as they took down at least five pothouses in three weeks during the month of November.

One of the first two residential homes on the 100 block of Noble Park Circle had been transformed from a home to a marijuana garden. The home was discovered by utility workers and searched by police October 2. The two pothouses on the block were stealing so much electricity from the area grid that it actually melted and burned the underground wiring grid for the entire neighborhood.

According to one TID worker, who did not wish to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media, the two houses had been constantly pulling 80 amps of electricity each— enough for at least 15 homes— causing the grid to fail and knocking out electricity for at least 20 residences in the circle. The average home uses four to 10 amps, he said. The drug cultivators had bypassed the main electrical systems and used separate boxes to draw the electricity needed to run the indoor lamps to grow the weed plants. Weeks later, deputies from Patterson Police Services, Riverbank Police Services and the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s main office were busy taking down three pot grow houses in west Patterson November 21, just after 8 a.m.

Patterson Police Sgt. Paul Yotsuya said deputies served three simultaneous search warrants to houses on the 400 block of Creekside Drive, 1200 block of Pipit Drive and the first block of Black Crow Lane.

People were living in at least two of the homes, Yotsuya said.

At the Creekside Drive address, Celeste Ontiveros, 23, and Gilberto Cordero, 32, both of Patterson, were arrested on suspicion of child endangerment, cultivation of marijuana, and theft of electricity. They were all living in the home’s den with 1-year-old and 3-year-old children, according to deputies.

Three bedrooms were outfitted with high intensity lights and ventilation systems for the marijuana plants to grow in three stages, Yotsuya said. Deputies found 278 plants at the house in various stages of growth.

On the 1200 block of Pipit Drive, 22-year-old Jose Ramos of Patterson was arrested at a house where he was living and allegedly tending to 466 pot plants. He was arrested on suspicion of electricity theft and cultivation of marijuana.

At the third address on Black Crow Lane, deputies arrested 29-year-old Brandon Haynes of Patterson for outstanding warrants for electrical theft and cultivation of marijuana. The house did not contain pot, but was being prepared growing marijuana, Yotsuya said.

Public safety and City Government Reporter Nick Rappley can be reached at 209-568-9975 or

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