Two Face Murder & Conspiracy Charges in Police Officer Death

Two people will remain in jail over the weekend charged with conspiracy and murder, in connection with the death of Susanville police officer Robert McElrath.

Speaking to the media Friday afternoon, law enforcement officers from Lassen County Sheriff's Office and Susanville Police were somber as they spoke of the victim, who had been a friend and coworker.

All wore black bands across their badges, in memory of McElrath and his untimely death. “We're a small department,” said Jeffrey D. Atkinson “Rob was an important part of what we do and we will miss him greatly."

Several agencies, including the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, FBI, California Department of Justice and others, teamed up to help Lassen County Sheriff's Officers with this investigation as it placed great demands on the small agency.

McElrath had been a US Marine before starting his career as a Lassen County Corrections officer. After leaving that position, he worked at the Susanville Police Department until his death, which was discovered Sunday.

Sgt. Matt McFarland of the Lassen Co Sheriff’s Office, says the agency received a call just before 11:00 AM on Sun., Jan. 2 reporting a body near Devil’s Corral.

Investigating officers at the scene determined the case was likely a homicide. An autopsy Monday confirmed their suspicions, ruling that McElrath had died of a gunshot wound.

Thursday, Sheriff's Officers arrested the victim's estranged wife, Joanna McElrath and her boyfriend Robin Glen James. Both are charged with Murder and Conspiracy. They are being held without bail. An arraignment is scheduled for Monday.

At this time investigators are not saying why the two are suspected in the death, how long McElrath was missing, or if there were multiple gunshot wounds.

More details are expected as the investigation continues. A public memorial and procession will be held in honor of Officer Robert J. McElrath, the date has not yet been determined.

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