John Snyder photo

Firefighters rescued two children who were trapped in a house fire in Joshua Tree Thursday morning. Fire crews were called to the 62300 block of Crestview Drive at 11:56 a.m. County Fire Assistant Chief Scott Tuttle said the victims, which included two adults who were in the house when the fire broke out, were taken to Hi-Desert Medical Center. From the hospital, helicopters transferred the pediatric patients to other area hospitals for further care. The house was a total loss as fire crews battled the fire for about 90 minutes. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

Cassidy Taylor photo
John Snyder photo
Cassidy Taylor photo
Cassidy Taylor photo


In our series of our top stories of four part-series of the top stories of 2020 is the arrest of Nicole Packer, 35, of Morongo Valley, who was arrested nearly 18 months after a crash that killed two teenagers. Prosecutors say that Packer was driving under the influence and at a high rate of speed when her 2018 white Ford Fiesta crashed into a Toyota Prius just west of Rosella Drive on Highway 62 on June 12, 2019. Hart Campbell, 14, and Ruby Campbell,17, both of Los Angeles, died at local hospitals a few hours later. Packer was arrested December 2 and charged with two counts of murder, DUI causing injury, driving with a suspended license, and speeding while DUI. Nicole Packer pleaded not guilty to all charges December 22. Managing editor Tami Roleff has more information about a murder in Joshua Tree that stunned local residents…

Nicole Packer

In April, many Morongo Basin residents were stunned by the stabbing death of a popular employee at a Joshua Tree gas station. Shane Castro, 24, of Twentynine Palms, and Anthony Frugoli, 26, were stabbed April 10 by David Urrea, 50, of Joshua Tree. Castro was driven by friends to Hi-Desert Medical Center where he died. Frugoli’s injuries were not life-threatening. Urrea had fled by the time deputies arrived, but a Sheriff’s helicopter located him near Broadway and Copper Mountain in Joshua Tree. Deputies said when Urrea threatened them, they shot and killed him.

And our final top story of 2020 is the conviction of a former Twentynine Palms Marine for murdering a Murrieta man and burying his body in Joshua Tree National Park in 2018. Curtis Krueger, 32, was sentenced in October to 18 years to life for bludgeoning to death Henry Stange, 54, and enlisting the help of his girlfriend, Ashlie Stapp, 29, to clean up the crime scene and help him bury the body. Stapp traded sex for drugs with Stange, but she told Krueger that Stange had raped her.

Curtis Krueger
Ashlie Stapp


The City of Twentynine Palms has received an application from Best Development Group to build a new Grocery Outlet store. The 16,000-square-foot supermarket is proposed to be built at the northeast corner of Encelia Avenue and State Route 62. The location is in front of the Fairfield Hotel and directly across the highway from the existing Stater Brother’s grocery store. The site plan and design review was formally submitted to the city December 24. The application will be distributed to city departments, law enforcement, utilities, CalTrans and others affected for review by January 22. The City of Twentynine Palms currently has only one major food retailer.


If you drove through the west end of Yucca Valley yesterday, you may have noticed flags waving on the north side of the highway. As the nation’s capital saw civil unrest, the scene was different as pro-Trump demonstrators gathered locally to express their support for the 45th president of the United States. Cassidy Taylor has the story…

“We’re representing the United States of America and President Trump”

A group of Trump supporters held a small rally alongside Highway 62 in Yucca Valley January 6. Cassidy Taylor photo

With the nation in civil unrest, a group of peaceful pro-Trump demonstrators gathered yesterday in Yucca Valley. The small group was originally organized by Missy Buchanan.

“We’re standing up with the president and we’re trying to let everybody know that this has been a stolen election. And so, we’re standing up here with righteous, fair votes that should’ve been counted.”

The demonstration fell on the same day that large scale protests broke out across the country as Congress met to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. What separated it from Washington D.C., was the peaceful nature of those present. If you walked up to the group, you were greeted with smiles, honking and a group eager to share their message.

Residents met at Highway 62 at Dumosa Avenue in Yucca Valley to protest the counting of electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden. Tami Roleff photo

Stan and Lori Thayer said the rally was about more than the election though.

“It’s about the freedom and the peace – we want to go back to church – encourage people! A lot smile, a lot get mad, but this is a peaceful assembly, a lawful assembly, constitutional. We love America, we love people, let freedom ring.”

*EDITOR’S NOTE: There has been no proof at all of any widespread voter fraud. Donald Trump’s claims of a stolen election have been proven as factually incorrect.


Firefighters were called to a blaze in Twentynine Palms early this morning. Crews from Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree, and the Combat Center were called just after 3 a.m. to the 72900 block of Manana Avenue where they found smoke and flames in an attached garage that had been converted to living quarters. Firefighters confined the flames to the converted garage area and had the fire knocked down in about 20 minutes, but the rest of the home suffered smoke damage. The cause of the fire is under investigation.