BERRY CREEK, Calif. - Authorities with the Butte County Sheriff's Office and Oroville Police Department teamed up during an investigation which ended up saving the life of a man in Berry Creek.
The Butte County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the Oroville Police Department on June 11, in regards to Ryan Blinston, of Oroville, who was wanted on a felony warrant for the arson of a vehicle and considered a person of interest in the disappearance of 57-year-old Vicky Cline, of Oroville.
Oroville Police requested assistance from BCSO with locating Blinston and arresting him on the felony warrant.
During the joint investigation that followed, OPD and BCSO detectives, Butte Interagency Narcotics Task Force detectives, BCSO Special Enforcement Unit detectives, and Designated Area Deputies worked together and developed information that led them to believe Blinston was staying with an acquaintance in the 1700 block of Milsap Bar Road in Berry Creek.
Detectives said they obtained a search warrant for the remote 80-acre parcel.
Due to the remote and secluded nature of the property and Blinston’s history of resisting arrest and flight from law enforcement, detectives said that a covert approach was necessary to prevent Blinston from being altered by law enforcement's presence early on.
Detectives were concerned that if Blinston evaded arrest, he would pose a danger to others. In order to decrease that risk, the BCSO Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) was tasked with serving the search and arrest warrant at the Milsap Bar property.
Early Sunday morning, deputies with the BCSO SWAT team, utilizing night vision equipment, covertly entered the property under the cover of darkness so they would be in a position to execute the search warrant and arrest Blinston at first light. After traveling approximately 1/4 mile onto the property, deputies said they heard the faint sounds of someone yelling for help along with banging noises, which became louder as deputies continued farther onto the property.
The deputies were eventually able to make their way to a small RV parked on the property. While approaching the RV the deputies, utilizing their night vision equipment, said they were able to see a man, later identified as Blinston, standing in the dark and holding a hatchet in his hand. Blinston was not able to see the approaching deputies and walked back towards the RV.
Once authorities were in a nearby position, they activated their flashlights and identified themselves as members of the Sheriff’s Office. Blinston immediately ran into the wooded area, still carrying the hatchet, with deputies running close behind, according to the sheriff's report.
A few deputies stayed behind and located the man in the RV who was bleeding from a deep cut on his neck. The man, who is not being identified at this time by the sheriff's office, was the person crying out for help.
The man told deputies he was attacked in his sleep by Blinston, who used a knife to slash his neck and stab him in the arm. Despite being seriously wounded, the man was able to fight Blinston off and push him out of the RV. The man locked the door in an effort to keep Blinston away. Blinston began attempting to force his way into the RV, which caused the banging noises heard by the deputies as they made their way onto the property.
Deputies immediately began treating the man’s injuries in an effort to save his life. Authorities said due to the time it would have taken for an ambulance to reach the location, and with the seriousness of the man’s injuries, deputies decided to transport him off the property in a BCSO vehicle to a landing zone where Enloe’s FlightCare helicopter was waiting. The man was flown to a local hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.
The area of 1700 Milsap Bar Road has no cell phone reception and due to the remote location, it's unlikely anyone would have heard the man’s cries for help. But for the joint effort of all involved agencies, coupled with the BCSO SWAT team arriving in the location when they did, it is unlikely the man would have survived his injuries, according to the sheriff's report.
The group of deputies that ran after Blinston located him attempting to hide in heavy brush, still holding the hatchet in his hand.
Blinston refused numerous commands to drop the hatchet, so deputies said they deployed a taser and pepper spray on him. After a short struggle, Blinston was taken into custody, medically cleared and booked into the Butte County Jail on the warrant for arson and is being held without bail.
On June 14, BCSO detectives, OPD detectives, Butte Interagency Narcotics Task Force detectives, and the California Department of Justice searched the Milsap Bar property and collected numerous items of evidence. The investigation into the attack of the man in the RV is ongoing. BCSO deputies will be booking Blinston for one count of attempted murder on June 15, 2020.
Questions regarding the disappearance of Vicky Cline and the associated investigation, should be referred to the Oroville Police Department. The Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with additional information regarding the attempted murder investigation to contact Sergeant Patrick McNelis or Detective Vaj Thao at 530-538-7671.