Two Medford women accused of murder appeared at an extradition hearing Monday afternoon in Jackson County Circuit Court as their family members protested their innocence.
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey says Amber Lubbers, 27, and Patricia MacCallum, 26, murdered MacCallum's husband, 34-year-old Michael Christopher MacCallum, and left his body at the base of a steep cliff near Applegate Creek in Northern California late last month.
California authorities are asking for the pair to be extradited to Siskiyou County to potentially stand trial there. The two women were step-sisters before their parents divorced.
Lopey said the pair acted in concert to carry out what he called a premeditated murder. But family members said the women are being falsely accused.
"I think they don't have any other suspects and they are picking on these girls," said Tammy Hale, Patricia MacCallum's mother.
Michael Christopher MacCallum was found Nov. 20 after family and friends re-ported him missing. He worked in Medford as a driver for Checker Cab and as a bartender. The victim had celebrated his birthday Nov. 17, and had been on a camping trip in northern Siskiyou County near the Oregon border.
An autopsy revealed MacCallum had been shot.
Hale said Patricia MacCallum had volunteered information to the police that Michael MacCallum had asked her for the use of her gun and ammunition before leaving for his camping trip.
"He said it was for safekeeping. He was going to be out in the woods," Hale said.
Both women seemed confused during the brief hearing, as they appeared via video feed from the Jackson County Jail. Judge Tim Barnack first asked Lubbers if she would agree with California's extradition request, or if she wanted to request another hearing for the court to legally determine her identity.
"I want to go," Lubbers said, over the protests of her family members.
Barnack ordered the gallery to be quiet, warning that any further outbursts would be viewed as contempt.
Next up was MacCallum, represented by a public defender who told her an identity hearing would be slated for later this month. The attorney warned MacCallum not to talk about the case with anyone, and advised her that all jail phone calls are recorded.
"Can I go home until then?," MacCallum asked, after stating she did not understand the proceedings.
Both women are being held without bail because they are facing murder charges, Barnack said.
Hale said both women had been fully cooperative with Siskiyou and Jackson county police. Amber Lubbers was the first to be arrested on Friday, she said.
"The police told Amber they had something for her," Hale said. "When she showed up, they put her in handcuffs."
Patricia MacCallum was also asked to meet with police and then arrested, Hale said.
"Tricia has been very forthcoming with police," Hale said. "We have no idea what they supposedly have on them."
John Singley is both Patricia MacCallum's father and Lubber's former stepfather.
Singley said the women are being held in solitary confinement and do not have their depression medications.
Singley said MacCallum had been able to make phone calls from the jail, but Lubbers had not been able to reach family members. Lubber's biological mother, Peggy Miller, was in the courtroom Monday, watching her daughter on the closed-circuit video screen.
Hale said both women have children who are staying with family members.
The Siskiyou County sheriff is still looking for information about the case and is asking anyone with knowledge of MacCallum's death to call the agency's 24-hour dispatch number at 530-841-2900.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.