Wednesday, 12 June 2024

Womachka death a homicide, autopsy finds

LAKEPORT – Officials have reported that an inquest into the death of a Nice man has found he was the victim of a homicide.

Paul “Joe” Womachka, 39, of Nice was found in his submerged Hey Taxi minivan in the Konocti Vista Casino marina last Friday afternoon. He'd been reported missing two days earlier when he didn't return from an early morning taxi run to Robinson Rancheria Bingo & Casino.

Lake County Sheriff Rod Mitchell confirmed earlier this week that his office was investigating Womachka's death as a homicide, even before the results of Tuesday's autopsy were made public.

Lt. Cecil Brown, the sheriff's office press officer, said earlier Tuesday that three sheriff's detectives were to be present for the autopsy in order to report back immediately on the findings.

Late Tuesday, an official sheriff's office statement on the autopsy results that was to be released to all area media was, inexplicably, not made available to Lake County News or posted on the sheriff's Web site for public viewing.

As of Wednesday night, Lake County News had still not seen the release, and the sheriff's office was unable to explain the oversight.

However, Mitchell was contacted Wednesday morning, and he confirmed the homicide conclusion.

“We are confirming the manner of death as homicide but we are not yet releasing the cause of death,” Mitchell said.

“We are better able to prioritize investigative leads when those leads contain information consistent with what we know but have not yet made public,” he said.

“We are actively working many different leads and seeking out additional sources of information,” Mitchell added.

The man Womachka was called to give a ride to early Wednesday, Morgan Matthew Jack, 30, is in the Lake County Jail on a parole violation. He was arrested June 29 by Det. Corey Paulich, one of the sheriff's office's key homicide investigators, just hours after Womachka's body was found.

One of many questions in the case is why Womachka took Jack to Lakeport in the first place.

The sheriff's office reported this week that Womachka had been called to give Jack a ride to his home at Big Valley Rancheria in Lakeport from Robinson Rancheria.

However, on his booking sheet, Jack's home is listed as Nice. When asked about this discrepancy, Brown said the Nice address would have come from information Jack gave to officials at the jail during his booking.

Jack remains in jail on a no-bail parole hold. Officials said he has been interviewed as part of the homicide investigation.

Brown said Jack was known to sheriff's officials, having spent time in the jail on and off over the last few years.

Mitchell urged anyone with information to call the sheriff's office at 262-4200 and ask to speak to Det. Corey Paulich or Det. Brian Kenner.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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