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Couple Blames County for Slashed Throats

WEAVERVILLE, Calif. (CN) - A husband and wife claim the Trinity County Sheriff's Office sent them to check on a neighbor whose throat had been slashed, and could only whisper "help" in her 911 call - and that the killer then slashed their throats too.

James Gund and Norma Gund Hice demand $10 million in damages from Trinity County.

The Gunds, of rural Kettenpom, say their neighbors were murdered on March 13. The Gunds live about a quarter mile away from the late victims, Kristine Constantino and Christopher Richardson.

A description ("Attachment") of the incident is attached to a bare-bones claim against the county. Citing California Highway Patrol records, the Gunds say police got a call at 3:28 p.m., from a woman "'whispering help, help over and over again when promted (sic) for location she stated at the end of the Kettenpom air strip.'"

Here is a link to a recording of CHP and Trinity County dispatchers talking about the 911 call.

After a Trinity County deputy sheriff could not contact the 911 caller, Sheriff's Cpl. Ron Whitman asked the Gunds to go check on their neighbor, according to the attachment.

The Trinity County Sheriff's Office is more than 2 hours from Kettenpom.

The Gunds say that Trinity County has informed them that "no recording of the conversation exists," between them and Cpl. Whitman.

They say that "Whitman requested that Mr. and Mrs. Gund go to 'check on Kristine' Constantino, the individual who resided at the home from which the distress calls originated." But, the Gunds say, "Nothing was said regarding a whispered distress 'help me' call.

"Claimants drove to the residence together in their truck. They had no safety concerns in following Corporal Whitman's request because Corporal Whitman had not advised them that a whispering 'help me' distress call had been received from the Constantino residence."

Mr. Gund stayed in the truck and his wife went to check on their neighbor.

"After a short period of time Mr. heard a commotion coming from the residence. He exited his truck and walked to the residence to check on his wife. As he got near the front door he could see an unknown male attacking his wife. Mr. Gund could see the suspect holding Mrs. Gund down and proceed to cut her throat with a knife. Mr. Gund thereafter ran to the door and entered the house in an attempt to help Mrs. Gund.

"As Mr. Gund entered the home, the assailant attacked him. Mrs. Gund was able to get away at that time and was able to drive their vehicle to the Kettenpom store. Mr. Gund was Tased by the suspect and punched several times. Claimant could see a motionless body on the floor in the living room of the residence with a bag over the head. Mr. Gund believed that the individual he observed was deceased and he suspected that the assailant was going to attempt to kill him.

"The assailant placed his knife by Mr. Gund's throat and managed to cut Mr. Gund. However, Mr. Gund was ultimately able to grab the knife with his hand and disarm the suspect.

"Mr. Gund left the scene and had to run to his house through the woods to get to his vehicle. As he was running to his house he saw the assailant flee the scene."

Gund says he got to the Kettenpom store, where he found his wife, and called 911 and described the assailant and his vehicle.

The suspect, Tomas Gouverneur, fled, and was killed in a crash during the police chase that followed, according to the Redding Record Searchlight.

Both Gunds suffered "severe laceration" to their throats, and Mrs. Gund continues to have difficulty speaking and breathing, according to attachment. Both suffered emotional distress.

They claim the Sheriff's Department was negligent and violated its own standards by asking them to investigate the Constantino home.

They each seek $5 million for negligence and violation of law enforcement standards.

The Gunds are represented by Zachary Zwerdling with Zwerdling, Bragg & Mainzer, of Eureka.

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