Investigators close in on Pat Gregory murder suspect

Tehama County Sheriff’s Office say that they are closer than ever to being able to provide closure on the 2014 case.

Francis "Pat" Gregory at the town meeting podium. He had served as West Tisbury town moderator since 1991. —MV Times

Law enforcement officials say they have identified the person believed to be responsible for the fatal shooting of longtime West Tisbury town moderator Francis (“Pat”) Gregory nearly 10 years ago.

Gregory was hiking along a remote trail in Northern California on the morning of May 16, 2014, when he was robbed at gunpoint, shot, and left for dead. A companion who was hiking with him was wounded.

The two men were found by another hiker hours later, who contacted emergency responders. Gregory died at the scene from his injuries. He was 69 years old. 

The news of Pat Gregory’s tragic death shocked the Vineyard. Those who knew him described the former West Tisbury School math teacher, local business owner, and town moderator as a highly respected and much-loved member of the Island community

According to the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office, the person believed to have killed Gregory and wounded his friend — a then-76-year-old, unnamed Manton, Calif., resident — has yet to be taken into custody, as investigators work to finalize details on the case. 

Officials anticipate issuing an arrest warrant in the near future. As of now, investigators say, they are actively aware of the suspect’s whereabouts.

“We know exactly where he’s at, [and] we do believe we are very close,” Sgt. Dustin Maria with the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office told The Times in a recent phone call. “Our investigators feel confident that we have identified the individual responsible for this homicide.”

Maria says it is “absolutely” the closest officials have ever been to solving the case, which has haunted Islanders for nearly a decade. 

In the days following Gregory’s death, which occurred on the Iron Canyon Trail near the town of Red Bluff, Calif., police released a composite sketch to the public, based on descriptions provided by Gregory’s hiking companion. 

A reward of $1,500 initially offered by the Tehama County Secret Witness Program to anyone who could provide information leading to an arrest of the perpetrator was later raised to $5,000, after pushback from Islanders who claimed the reward amount was too low. 

In 2019, law enforcement officials hoped to reinvigorate the investigation by releasing to the public a new composite sketch of the then-unknown assailant. 

Those efforts proved unsuccessful. 

It wasn’t until about two years ago when Tehama County had some leads develop that “really advanced the investigation,” Sgt. Maria said.

Since then, the multi-agency investigation, which included the Bureau of Land Management and the California Department of Justice, has worked to zero in on a single suspect. 

The sheriff’s office has not yet released the name of said suspect.

Meanwhile, over the past six years, the case has stuck with West Tisbury Police Chief Matt Mincone, who’s quietly been working with California investigators to help solve one of the Island’s biggest mysteries.

Through regular correspondence, Mincone has kept up-to-date on the case, mainly through Bureau of Land Management Special Agent Curtis Hubanks, who has worked the case since 2018, and traveled to the Vineyard that same year to meet with Gregory’s widow.

In a call with The Times, Hubanks declined to speak on particulars of the investigation, but shared that he’s always been taken by Gregory’s case, and had felt an obligation to return to Gregory’s family with answers. 

“He hasn’t let it rest,” Mincone said of Hubanks. 

Of Mincone, Hubanks has called him a “huge asset” to the investigation. Both men tell The Times that they’ve long awaited being able to bring closure to Gregory’s loved ones.

At the time of his death, Gregory was survived by his wife Dorothy, daughter Shannon, and son Timothy. Dorothy (Lacombe) Gregory passed away in 2021 at the age of 71; Shannon Gregory Carbon died just last month. 

Though disappointed and saddened that Gregory’s wife and daughter won’t get to see the case solved, Mincone says he hopes that an arrest and conviction of the person responsible for killing Gregory may offer some healing for the rest of his family, and the greater Island community who were devastated by his loss.


  1. I am not surprised one bit that in Northern California Pat Gregory, murdered on the morning of May 16, 2014, is still FREE even after they know exactly where he’s at and has yet to be taken into custody!
    How much closer to they have to get to punish this supposed known murderer.
    Please close this for our island family and further explain why he has not been taken into custody and charged long ago!

      • Julian– Yes, Woody’s comment clearly suggest
        that Mr. Gregory is still free.
        But , we know what Woody means.
        We all make spelling and grammatical errors.
        The more telling point is that Woody is more
        concerned with pointing out that this is in
        California than he is about his grammar.

  2. Good news. I always wondered why with an eye witness this case was never solved. One would think the murderer would have also left some DNA evidence.

    • Lack of preponderance of evidence.
      I am sure the cops thought of that.
      Do you think that they are stupid?
      Do you think that most people are?

  3. This article created much pain in my household. If you knew the family personally you would understand how this is extremely hurtful especially right now. There is actually no news here, just a rehash of painful events. If the editor had any compassion at all they would recognize the need to protect the mental health of certain individuals. For one who asks a lot from our community towards the health of their own child, it is stunning they are inflaming a real risk to other young adults.

    • There were 17, 000 murders last year. They all have family.
      If the editor had any compassion they would run this story every month until the murderer is executed.
      Knowing that the case is still alive must bring some comfort to the family.

  4. I can’t understand why the police would announce they know who the murderer is before an arrest. Why not buy this criminal a free ticket to Bolivia as he waits for the police to arrest him. Makes no sense to me.

    • I can.
      The police know that the murderer knows that the police know who the murderer is.
      If the murderer had the wherewithal to get to Bolivia he would have left long ago.
      The only reason that the police do not arrest the murderer is that they lack a preponderance of evidence of guilt (the police felt that they had preponderance of guilt in Trump’s cases).
      Now do you understand?

      The Police and MVT deserves kudos for keeping this murder ‘alive’, cockroaches die when illuminated.

      Cockroaches are vermin…..

      • Actually an arrest is made on probable cause and guilt is determined as beyond a reasonable doubt. A preponderance of evidence is a standard used in civil trials.

        But to answer one of your questions above to another commenter, I don’t think they are stupid but people asking if others are stupid while using legal terms incorrectly while lecturing others might be

          • Ha! Thank you Jackie. I think it maybe time for me to go on another sabbatical from posting. I think I have to follow my own advice about getting sucked into this abyss.

  5. To the editor– sometimes, just because
    you have a “scoop” does not mean you have to go with it.
    The Gazette didn’t.
    I fully understand that this article is offensive to all of us
    who knew Pat. The immediate family members must
    be devastated by this irresponsible “tease”.
    After 10 years of waiting for justice, for the Times to
    put this up the week before Thanksgiving is incredibly
    It is a nothing burger story served up with a generous
    helping of inconsideration.
    This kind of tabloid reporting will not help
    with increasing sales.
    You have let the comment section here lapse for days
    without any new posts, and you allow radical off topic
    rants to dominate the conversations.
    Get a grip !

    • The MVT and The Gazette are very different newspapers, thank God
      And very good newspapers.
      One person’s rant is another person’s logical point of view.
      Are rants Conservative or Liberal or just different from your point of view?

  6. Thank you Sarah. I wrote a comment very similar to yours yesterday, perhaps not as eloquent. Not only did it not get published I received an email from the Times defending this cruel article. I can only echo the above words and hope that the Times would think for a moment before acting in such an irresponsible manner in the future. Praying for all families hurting.

  7. To the Times Editor, I for one did not know about this story and did some additional research. Very tragic and sad case. Fresh eyes and bringing old stories to light often brings new findings to the stories and can even help solve old forgotten crimes. Cold cases are often solved with the help of media outlets publishing stories just like this. I hope in this case it helps and my condolence to Mr. Gregory’s loved ones.

  8. The job of a newspaper is to report news, not be sensitive. You may be of the opinion that this is not news, but I for one am thrilled to know this has been an active case for a decade and they know who the miserable SOB is who killed Pat.

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