A bullet ended the life of Stephanie Faye Gawboy. A regular at protests against GMO food, fracking, vaccines and anything that would harm the environment, the 52-year-old Redway resident was found dead on Wednesday, Aug. 17 and the next day Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office announced that it was investigating her death as a homicide.
On Monday, Humboldt County Chief Deputy Coroner Lt. Ernie Stewart confirmed Gawboy’s identity and added that the autopsy was performed earlier that day.
Last week, before her identity was confirmed, the news in Southern Humboldt spread like wildlife and by evening the next day, KMUD’s Kelly Lincoln aired the details of Gawboy’s discovery by a neighbor.
According to the press release from Humboldt County Sheriff Office last Wednesday, Gawboy was found in her Redway residence with what investigators say was “what appeared to be a gunshot wound lying down.”
Though investigators were called to her home in the 100 block of Redway Drive on Aug. 17, it was later determined that she had died days prior. Stewart would not confirm that information.
The neighbor who initially found her and discussed the discovery on KMUD on Aug. 18 said in the radio interview that he was unsure of what to do and felt like he wanted to talk with someone before calling 911. When he did finally mention to a fellow neighbor that he thought something had happened to Gawboy, that friend immediately called 911 and met sheriff’s detectives at Gawboy’s residence.
“She was one of the most unique people I’d ever known,” Jeanette Dwyer said. “She was passionate about causes that mattered and about ensuring that we have a healthy planet.”
“I knew Stephanie for 26 years,” Darryl Cherney said. ”She was an incredible person and her voice will be sorely missed.”
Cherney and Gawboy once dated and the two stayed close friends after their relationship ended.
“What will now become my last memory of her,” Cherney added, “was watching her perform in an improv class we both took, she was really funny!”
Cherney said that though Gawboy was known for her seriousness, she had a lighter side that was endearing.
“Stephanie was ahead of her time,” said Andy Caffrey, another long-time fellow advocate. “She never shirked her responsibility to the planet and took the health of our environment very, very seriously.”
Caffrey added that her loss is an incredible blow to the community “and the country at large, she was an unwavering advocate for the health of our world.”
Gawboy was known within the community for offering her home as a space for those less fortunate in the community.
According to all of her friends, she would often invite anyone without plumbing to use her shower. The neighbor who initially found her lifeless body was one of the recipients of her kindness.
Lately, her friends say, her greatest passion was protecting our food and keeping chemicals out of our bodies. In what would turn out to be her last letter to the editor for this publication, Gawboy spoke out against vaccines.
Asked about whether she had mentioned any fears about anyone recently, some of her friends said she had. The Redwood Times received reports that Stephanie told close friends about six months ago that she was socializing with some people she didn’t feel safe around.
“She was hyper-vigilante by nature,” Caffrey explained. “I never knew her to have weapons, but always assumed her to be knowledgeable about self-protection.”
“I never doubted for a second that Stephanie could defend herself,” said Dwyer. “She was strong and fit and aware of her surroundings always.”
“She would have fought back if she thought she was at risk,” Cherney said. “Whoever did this was someone who Stephanie trusted.”
Zorilla-Mendoza stated that this homicide remained an active investigation and that anyone with information for the sheriff’s office regarding this case is encouraged to call Detective Jen Turner at 707-268-3642 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.