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Fort Bragg fugitive's fingerprint found in burglarized cabin

September 28, 2011 |  9:46 pm

Aaron Bassler Mendocino County investigators said Wednesday that a fingerprint lifted from a burglarized vacation cabin has proved to be that of a murder suspect they’ve been searching for for a month.

The cabin is along the Noyo River about 14 miles east of Fort Bragg, which was rocked in August by the slaying of two men: Matthew Coleman, 45, a land restoration worker, and Jere Melo, 69, a city councilman and former mayor.

Fingerprint comparisons show that the print lifted from the cabin belongs to Aaron Bassler, 35, who is suspected of killing both men, according to a Mendocino County Sheriff's Department statement Wednesday. Deputies have been searching for Bassler in the mountains east of Fort Bragg since Melo's killing Aug. 27.

Deputies made reverse 911 calls Wednesday afternoon to warn residents of Bassler’s presence in the area, according to a statement.

The burglary was discovered Sunday.

Investigators are still trying to determine what was stolen from the cabin as the owner was not in residence. But detectives collected items believed touched by the intruder. The prints were sent to a state Department of Justice laboratory in Sacramento, which found they belonged to Bassler, according to the statement.

Investigators also believe Bassler was responsible for three other burglaries last week in the same area: a full-time residence and two vacation cabins. A .22-caliber rifle and 12-gauge shotgun were taken during one of those burglaries.

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-- Sam Quinones

twitter.com/samquinones7

Photo: Aaron Bassler

Credit: Mendocino County Sheriff's Department

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