DNA evidence helps convict a Crescent City man in the murder of Ashland girl in 1994
CRESCENT CITY, Calif. ' DNA evidence obtained seven years after the murder of an Ashland girl led to the conviction of a Crescent City man Wednesday in a first-degree murder trial.
After only 22 minutes of deliberation, a Del Norte County Superior Court jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict against Robert Allen Wigley, 37, of Crescent City, in connection with the October 1994 death of 18-year-old Camillia J. Randall of Longview, Wash., and Ashland.
Wigley was also found guilty of special allegations of rape, oral copulation and the infliction of torture attached to the murder charge.
Randall was hitchhiking from Ashland to Guerneville, Calif., on Oct. 26, 1994, when she was last seen in Crescent City. She had called her aunt, Wendy Whiteman, in Ashland that evening, telling her she was going to sleep on the beach and not to worry if she didn't hear from her for a few days.
— Four days later, Randall's body was discovered wrapped in her sleeping bag in the old-growth redwood forest of Stout Grove outside Crescent City. Wigley was not linked to the crime until 2001, when his DNA was matched to crime scene evidence in a cold hit through the California Department of Justice databank.
In a trial that wore on for 7&
189; weeks, Wigley represented himself after firing his court-appointed counsel. He claimed that his ex-wife, Marie Biggers, had murdered Randall after learning that he had had sex with the girl.
Biggers testified in court that she had no knowledge of the murder other than what she read in the newspaper.
During the Sheriff's Department investigation, it was determined that the murder occurred during a two-day period when Biggers was staying at her parents' home trying to recover from a stomach illness.
Wigley said the teen walked into the Crescent City Super 8 Motel, which he and Biggers managed at the time, asking to use the restroom, about 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 26, 1994.
According to Wigley, in the next few hours, he had consensual sex with Randall, after which his wife killed her in a fit of rage and jealousy. Then the couple deposited the teen's body in Stout Grove.
During his cross-examination, Del Norte County District Attorney Mike Riese offered a different scenario.
Isn't it true, Mr. Wigley, that you found Camillia Randall behind the motel, and you raped her, stabbed her and killed her there?
In his closing argument, Riese said it didn't matter where Randall was killed, just that Wigley killed her.
There are several ways that this defendant can be found guilty of first degree murder, the district attorney said. Someone who aids and abets is also guilty.
Throughout the trial, family members of the victim watched the proceedings from the first two rows behind the prosecution. In daily attendance were the mother of the victim, Marjorie Reynolds of Newburg, and Whiteman, who now lives in Central Point.
During the trial they were frequently accompanied by other family members.
Whiteman was the last family member to see the victim, when she set off on Oct. 26, 1994, from Whiteman's shop, Village Floral, in Ashland.
What the jury did today is going to be a big stepping stone for us, Reynolds said Wednesday. The only thing wrong with what happened today was we didn't get her back.
Although some family members cried in the courtroom as the verdict was read, they later said that on the whole they felt an overwhelming joy and sense of relief after Wigley's conviction.
Reynolds brought out photos of Randall at various ages of her childhood.
See how beautiful she was. That's what he took away from me, she said.