Cope Reynolds is running for Apache County Sheriff in the 2024 election and arranged the meeting for residents living in western Apache County to share their grievances. The meeting was held at the Vernon Community Park.
The heartbreaking reality of living in rural parts of Apache County is a serious concern for many residents of Vernon, Arizona. Response times for the Apache County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) can be hours, if not the next day, in many areas of Apache County.
Drenth spoke at the meeting with his grandson, Matt’s son, and told his gut-wrenching story.
Don Drenth and his grandson speak to The Apache County Crime Response Forum at Vernon Park as Reynolds listens.
Drenth explained that his son texted him and told him goodbye and to take care of his children and his dog Camo. Matt’s text also stated that he was bleeding out and was stabbed, would die, and where to find him.
Drenth emotionally put his hand up to his pocket where his phone was and said,” I keep that text on my phone and will always.”
Matt’s text read that he was at Doyle Mtn. Drenth said he immediately called the sheriff’s office, and ACSO responded to Doyle Mtn along with Bo Hounshell from Apache County Emergency Services. The group looked for Matt and was unable to find him.
“ACSO thought Matt was hiding and did not want to be found,” said Drenth.
Drenth said he found Matt’s truck on Father’s Day and reported it to ACSO, and they did respond and took the truck to the impound yard in St. Johns.
Matt went missing on May 31, and his body was found near his truck on July 28. Matts remains are still at the Pima County Medical Examiners facility waiting for the autopsy.
“Apache County Emergency Response Bo Hounshell never stopped looking for my son and eventually found him,” said Drenth.
Drenth said they are still waiting for DNA results, and Matt’s mother gave a DNA sample on Sept. 6.
The Drenth’s were given condolences and met with handshakes and hugs by several people at the meeting.
Don Drenth and his grandson speak to a resident as she gives him support.
The previous Apache County Sheriff, Art Lee, spoke about his years of service to the people of Apache County. He served from 1973 until he retired in 1999. He said he won back-to-back elections and was raised in the Navajo Nation.
“My ties to the Nation were a supporting factor for being elected,” said Lee.
The fate of Apache County’s elected representatives rests on the votes of the Navajo people.
Lee looked directly at Drenth and said, “This would not have happened on my shift, and I am sorry that this happened to you.”
Previous Apache County Sheriff Art Lee talks directly to Don Drenth.
The meeting was then turned over to questions and comments from the residents of western Apache County.
Once services are received from ACSO, residents said at the meeting, “They have to solve their own crimes, and then they’re threatened by ACSO if they interfere.”
“The fact is that when you have no protection by the sheriff’s office, you must be on high alert and question ACSO, the agency you should trust with your only defense, that you pay for is tarnished,” said a resident.
Its not all the deputy’s fault, it’s Sheriff Deadmans fault, he’s the top leadership and he’s not leading ACSO and must be replaced noted several residents.
Apache County Residents are prepared to defend themselves, their families, neighbors, and property by any means necessary. One resident said this is an example of “taxation without representation.”
Reynolds said the situation can be fixed if he is elected sheriff. “One of my first goals is to address the poor response times in western Apache County that may include a substation or resident deputies near Vernon,” said Reynolds.
A resident said, “If Cope Reynolds is elected as the Apache County Sherriff, this will be the first time we will have a Sheriff from our area.”
Reynolds answers questions from residents.
A representative from ACSO was invited to the meeting and never responded back to Reynolds and did not show up.
Previous Apache County Sheriff Art Lee and Cope Reynolds and the Apache County Crime Response Forum at Vernon Park.
Molly K Ottman-Executive Editor/Journalist for Mountain Daily Star
Pictures Molly K Ottman-Executive Editor/Journalist for Mountain Daily Star