Robert Shuey, whose violent 30-year existence left a train of ruined lives in its wake, met an equally violent end, information provided to the Sentinel this week by a reliable source indicates.
There have been conflicting accounts as to Shuey’s April 2021 demise. In one he was felled by an effort to ensure he was unable to cooperate with law enforcement authorities or testify, and in another he was dispatched in a revenge killing. A third featured him as a victim of a professional hit commissioned by an international drug cartel. There were two suicide scenarios promulgated, one involving him shooting himself and another in which he was said to have willfully overdosed. He was also said to have accidentally overdosed.
In its original public notification of the incident, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s department characterized Shuey’s death as a murder. Subsequently, however, the department represented it as an unexplained death, and the department did nothing to stem a billowing rumor that Shuey had succumbed to a drug overdose. There were discrepancies between that suggestion and certain known facts. Other anomalies and developments pushed others to the conclusion that the sheriff’s department was withholding information from the public to assist its homicide investigators in cracking the case.
Shuey’s body was found inside his Blue Jay home sometime in the morning of April 27, roughly 10-and-a-half to 13 hours after his April 26 death.
On the sheriff’s department’s call/dispatch log, available online, the matter was referenced as a 187, that is, a showing that the sheriff’s department considered the matter to be a homicide, Penal Code Section 187, defined as the intentional killing of another. In a highly irregular development, the sheriff’s department’s call/dispatch log was subsequently altered to reference the matter as a “DB,” i.e., a dead body. An indication the department initially considered the matter to be a homicide consists of a screen shot in the Sentinel’s possession showing the log as it was originally posted prior to its alteration.
Shuey’s body was discovered by an as-yet unidentified female, who was either one of Shuey’s immediate or extended family members, a girlfriend or an acquaintance. When she arrived at his home, it was was locked. She gained entry, either using a key or some other means. Inside the home was Shuey, who was dead. Shuey had bled profusely from his nose. This led to a report that he had been shot point blank in the face.
Indications were that Shuey’s three-and-a-half-year-old daughter was in the house at the time of his death, and she remained there with her father’s corpse for at least ten and perhaps more than 12 hours until sheriff’s personnel arrived the next morning. The Sentinel was told in April that after investigators arrived and took stock of the situation, they, in recognition of the delicacy of the situation, arranged to have a child psychologist/child and family services expert speak to the girl, and she said that the night before a man she did not know had come to the house to speak with her father, and that her father had told her to hide before he engaged with that individual.
Thereafter, the unofficial story circulating in the mountain communities was that Shuey died at his own hand, either purposefully as a suicide or unintentionally from a drug overdose. The sheriff’s department did nothing to discourage the suicide narrative from gaining currency. Multiple sources in the Lake Arrowhead District have told the Sentinel that the sheriff’s department went so far as to convey to Shuey’s family that he had died of an overdose.
While an autopsy on Shuey’s body was completed within a week, the pathologist’s report and the autopsy protocol was either not compiled or withheld for more than two months and three weeks.
Word has reached the Sentinel that the autopsy protocol provides an indication that Shuey had indeed been shot in the head, though not in front, as was previously stated, but rather from behind, and at close range.
The Sentinel immediately sought to verify that report through the coroner’s office, which is a division of the sheriff’s department. While the coroner’s office did acknowledge that the autopsy results and the pathologist’s report was available, the records clerk who is authorized to release it was not available this week, and will return on Monday August 2, at which time the Sentinel was told, those documents will be available.
It was indicated to the Sentinel that in addition to Shuey having sustained a single gunshot wound, fentanyl, an extremely powerful synthetic opioid, was present in his body at the time of his death.
Recurrent in the unverified reports relating to Shuey’s death is that he was entangled in a circumstance involving an international drug distribution ring, one involved in the importation of both methamphetamine and fentanyl from Mexico.
In his 30 years, Shuey was charged with 13 separate felonies and more than 20 misdemeanors stemming from 17 different cases/arrests in San Bernardino County alone. He was convicted on seven of those felonies and 11 of the misdemeanors. At the time of his death, two felony charges stemming from a single incident on May 21, 2020 were pending against him, those charges being first degree burglary and assault by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury.
Since turning 18 years old, Shuey was sentenced to prison or jail terms totaling seven years and 257 days. Records indicate he served less than half of that time in actual incarceration.
Among the felony convictions Shuey sustained were for drug dealing, theft, assault, burglary and weapons charges. Several of his misdemeanor charges involved fighting or assault. At the time of his death, the district attorney’s office was considering filing charges, either as misdemeanors or felonies, relating to two physical assaults – indeed severe beatings – he had administered. Simultaneously, Shuey was yet facing a charge of burglary together with assault with a deadly weapon resulting in great bodily injury relating to the incident he was involved in on May 21 of last year in Blue Jay. Shuey was arrested by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputies working out of the Twin Peaks sheriff’s substation in the aftermath of that incident. Shuey and his attorney maintain that the arrest and charges were inappropriate and unsupportable in that Shuey was the victim, and what had actually occurred was Shuey’s motorcycle had been stolen by the individual he was charged with assaulting and that the theft he was charged with was his successful effort to take back possession of his stolen motorcycle.
Shuey had drug-related convictions including drug-trafficking, in particular dealing methamphetamine. There is indication that he was involved in the importation of methamphetamine manufactured in Mexico and that he was associating with a drug dealer working in the San Bernardino Mountains communities, Johnny Garcia. Garcia was formerly involved in the distribution of methamphetamine and more recently began trafficking in fentanyl. Unverified reports are that there were six fentanyl-related deaths in the mountains between early April and mid-May of this year as Garcia’s distribution of that very powerful synthetic opioid intensified, and that the sheriff’s department was closing in on Garcia. Growing out of this circumstance are allegations that it was Garcia who killed Shuey out of concern that Shuey, in an attempt to have the assault and theft charges that were pending against him dropped, was cooperating with the sheriff’s department, and had already implicated or was about to implicate Garcia in the fentanyl distribution activity tied to the spate of overdose deaths in the mountain communities.
The sheriff’s department has not confirmed whether it suspects Garcia of being involved in the distribution of fentanyl that resulted in the overdose deaths in the San Bernardino Mountains earlier this year or in having killed Shuey. In June, word on the street was that Garcia had departed the Lake Arrowhead district in an effort to elude law enforcement authorities, perhaps having gone to Mexico. This week, the Sentinel was told Garcia is lying low in the Riverside area.
While the withholding of the pathologist’s report and the autopsy protocol may have been a ploy to assist the sheriff’s department in making a case against a suspect such as Garcia by providing investigators with a possible opportunity to elicit from the suspect during an interrogation details of Shuey’s death contained in the autopsy protocol that would be known only to his killer, the release of the coroner’s report would seem to indicate that the sheriff’s department either has sufficient information to make a case against a suspect or alternatively that it does not yet have a viable suspect, and that it can no longer forestall the public’s access to the information contained in the coroner’s examination of Shuey’s body.
Amsel Crossings, in his dotage, met the sister of one of his former classmates while he was living in a cottage at the complex for a rest home he had been committed to.
Jennifer Parker was a decade and a half younger than he, but at this stage of her life, she was no spring chicken