Ex-Editor’s Wife Asks Court for Death Ruling

     YUBA CITY, Calif. (CN) – Former City Editor of the Santa Cruz Sentinel and former editor of the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Len La Barth, is believed to have jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge in March, according to a request for a declaration of his death.
     In papers filed July 3 in Sutter County Superior Court, La Barth’s wife Sukhjit Purewal, asked the court to declare him dead based on the circumstances leading up to his disappearance. A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 19.
     While La Barth’s body has not been recovered, the California Highway Patrol found his locked truck in a parking lot on the Marin County side of the Golden Gate Bridge, with Purewal’s phone number and a note to call it when the truck was found, according to Purewal’s filing. A witness told the investigating CHP officer that the truck arrived on March 6, the same day La Barth was reported missing, according to the CHP report.
     March 4, La Barth had asked Purewal to pick up their daughter from school the next day, a task he had been doing. The last time the two saw him was March 5, when Purewal took their daughter to school.
     When a CHP officer called Purewal March 14, he said it appeared that La Barth’s truck had been in the same place for the seven days, according to his report.
     La Barth had left notes and a journal discussing suicide, in the house, and notes in the truck. The notes in the truck were written on the back of a printout of turn-by-turn directions from his home address to the Golden Gate Bridge.
     La Barth had been City Editor of the Santa Cruz Sentinel. He held three positions there from 1999 through 2006, when he went to work as editor of the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, 45 miles north of Sacramento. He reportedly was fired in 2012.
     Purewal states in her filing that La Barth then had gone through periods of mental disturbance resulting in several stays in mental health facilities. Due to troubles in their marriage, he moved out for the second time in 2010, but had come back to stay in the spare room after he had been in the hospital.
     La Barth told Purewal that he had received a job offer from a newspaper in Carson City, Nevada, but it is not clear whether he had started the position, according to Purewal’s filing.
     La Barth was 50 at the time of his disappearance. He leaves behind his estranged wife and 8-year-old adopted daughter.
     Ms. Purewal is represented by Brenda C. Smith of Yuba City.

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