Local briefs: Murder suspect found in Las Vegas

July 12, 2011 

A man who fled town after the murder of a Fresno homeless man was arrested Thursday in Las Vegas, Fresno Police Sgt. Dave Ramos said Tuesday.

Clifford Byrn, 71, was found unconscious around 1 p.m. July 5 in southwest Fresno at the Ambassador Inn at 1804 W. Olive Ave. and later died from upper body injuries.

Fresno Police were unable to locate the suspect, Vedgren Jones, 33, who was also homeless and lived in Fresno, until detectives learned that he was in Las Vegas.

Officers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department found and arrested Jones, Ramos said.

He is being held at the Harris County jail awaiting extradition to Fresno. Upon his return, Jones will be charged with Byrn's murder, Ramos said.

Clovis woman's death investigated

A woman whose body was found Monday afternoon in a pasture east of Fresno has been identified.

The woman is Nikki Williams, 22, of Clovis, the Fresno County Coroner's Office said Tuesday.

Fresno County Sheriff's Office detectives are investigating Williams' "questionable death." Her body was found shortly after 3 p.m. Monday beside a house on the 7700 block of East Shields Avenue.

Five arrested in drug investigation

Five people were taken into custody Monday by a narcotics task force in Tulare County.

The arrests followed a three-week investigation and the serving of a search warrant in the 14100 block of Avenue 420 near Orosi, a sheriff's spokeswoman said.

Three chop shops in two counties closed

Fresno law enforcement shut down three significant chop shop operations in the last 48 hours in Fresno and Madera counties, Fresno Police Lt. Burke Farrah said.

Fresno sheriff's deputies on Tuesday found two suspects stripping a vehicle at a chop shop in the 400 block of North Poplar Avenue. An 18-year-old-man and a 38-year-old man were arrested for operating a chop shop and possessing a stolen vehicle. Both were booked into the Fresno County jail.

Also on Tuesday, Fresno police followed a lead into Madera County and arrested a 24-year-old who was booked into the Madera County jail, Farrah said.

On Monday, a 24-year-old man was arrested for operating a chop shop on the 4600 block of East Fountain Way and for possessing a stolen vehicle and parts. He was booked into the Fresno County jail.

Education

Reedley College gets new president

State Center Community College District trustees appointed Mitjl Capet as the new president of Reedley College. Capet has served as the assistant to the chancellor at College of the Canyons/Santa Clarita Community College District for the past year.

Capet replaces Barbara Hioco, who retired in June. His term begins Aug. 1.

Also ...

Tulare Co. reopens Kings River access

The Tulare County portion of the Kings River was reopened Tuesday for recreational use.

Meanwhile, all portions of the Kings River throughout Kings County will reopen for recreational use at noon Friday. The Kings County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to rescind the river's closure because water levels are receding.

The river was closed June 16 because of high flows. On July 1, supervisors lifted the ban south of Flint and 18th avenues.

Officials in both counties warn people that the river's high flows have moved sandbars and created other changes in the channel and urge caution when entering the water, which is running swift and cold.

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