NORTH FORK, Calif. -
An elderly woman in North Fork has been found murdered. The Madera County Sheriff's Office said 76-year old Bonnie Hale was found dead on her front porch Saturday morning. Hale was a former North Fork Rancheria Tribal Council member. Sheriff Deputies have arrested her neighbor 63-year old Mary O'Keefe on charges of murder.
The details on exactly how Hale died is still under investigation. The Sheriff's Office said there was some sort of physical altercation between the two women.
The last time Bobby Hale saw his 76-year old mother Bonnie was on Friday night. He said he came back to her North Fork home the next morning to visit, and knocked on her door several times, but she never answered.
Bobby said, "So I walked around the porch and I found my mom laying on the ground, and of course the blood rushes out of your body, and I could see that she wasn't right."
He said there were obvious signs on her that she had been in a fight.
"She had some wounds on her," stated Bobby.
The Sheriff's Office said O'Keefe murdered Hale. They said O'Keefe lives nearby. Bobby said his mother was not stabbed nor shot.
He said, "I don't know why she was here, you know. My mom didn't know her."
Hale said his mother was more than just the matriarch of his family. She played a huge role in the North Fork Rancheria Tribe and served on the Tribal Council from 2010 to 2014.
Bobby stated, "My mom was very, very well respected in the community not only in the North Fork community but especially in our Indian Native culture."
The North Fork Rancheria released a statement on Sunday saying, "The North Fork Rancheria is deeply shocked and saddened by the news of the senseless death of our beloved former tribal leader Mrs. Bonnie Hale. There will be an appropriate time and place to honor and respect the life and contributions of our dear friend and colleague in accordance with our Native traditions and customs as well as to reflect on the nature of Mrs. Hales's tragic passing. For now, however, the Tribal Council would simply like to express our deepest love, sympathy, and support to Bonnie's family as well as to all the tribal citizens, North Fork neighbors, and countless others that Mrs. Hale touched in her many years of service and care to our community. We all share heavy, hurting hearts at this news of Mrs. Hale's untimely passing and ask all to respect the privacy of the Hale family, Tribe, and tribal citizens as we begin the process of gathering facts and grieving this terrible, tragic event."
"She just loved life and she loved being here in North Fork and with her people," ended Bobby.
O'keefe has been booked into the Madera County Jail. The Sheriff's Office said an autopsy is expected to be done on Hale this week to determine exactly how she died.