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Deaths shock and sadden community

September 24, 2012

A grim discovery Sunday in West Bishop has shocked and saddened a local community and launched an investigation by the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department.
According to Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Carma Roper, investigators are working to determine the cause of death for two young residents whose bodies were found by a neighbor about 12:30 p.m. Sunday in a home on Pa Ha Lane.
“There were no obvious signs of trauma or foul play,” Roper said. “An autopsy will take place to determine the cause of death.”
Coroner Leon Brune identified the residents as Helena Spratt, 18, and Chase Tague, 27, both of Bishop. Authorities did not disclose the nature of the relationship between the two as of press time Monday.
News of their deaths sent immediate shock and grief throughout the close-knit community of the Bishop Paiute Reservation.
“This is a tragic event for the families of the deceased and the community,” Sheriff Bill Lutze said.
Roper said sheriff’s deputies closed a portion of Pa Ha Lane during the investigation because a large number of family, friends and loved ones had began to gather outside the home, hoping to hear news or show support for the families.
Condolences and calls for prayers for the families were widespread on Facebook by early evening.
Investigators, meanwhile, will be awaiting test results and following up on any and all leads.
According to Roper, test results should be able to shed more light on the circumstances surrounding the young pairs’ deaths – including whether carbon monoxide was present in the home, or if narcotics or other substances played a role.
Brune said it could take up to a “couple months” before toxicology tests and an autopsy report are released because a contractor in Southern California will be handling that end of the investigation, as is typical for investigations of this nature.
“Anyone with any information is asked to please come forward – you may stay anonymous,” Sheriff Lutze.
Anyone who may have information about the case is encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Department at (760) 878-0383.

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