Escondido man kills lifelong friend and his girlfriend in Trinity County ( UPDATED)

Murder victims Amanda Payton and James Jacana, who attended San Pasqual High School.

Hayfork is about as far as one can go from Escondido and remain in California, a distance of approximately 700 miles.

Yet, two Escondido men were caught up in a recent incident resulting in the death of one.

Jason Paul Brady, 40, who attended Orange Glen High School, confessed the next day to police to the April 4 murder of Amanda Patton, 21, and James Jachna, 42, at a Hayfork residence. Jachna attended San Pasqual High School.

confessed killer Jason Paul Brady of Escondido.

Confessed killer Jason Paul Brady of Escondido.

Brady was arraigned on April 7 and scheduled to enter a plea at Trinity Superior Court on April 20. He was held without bail at Trinity County Jail on charges of premeditated murder and special circumstances of lying in wait, murder for financial gain and use of a handgun.

Trinity County District Attorney Eric Heryford said he was still awaiting reports on the case but his understanding was Brady had worked for the victims.

For more information on the incident, visit our coverage at

The two men were described as “childhood best friends, neighbors growing up,” by Sean Donegan, who was a few years ahead of them at school, but knew the pair.

“Jimmy was just trying to give (Brady) some work to help him out, not sure what went so wrong,” Donegan said. “I’m still in shock.”

Donegan continued: “They are four or five years younger than I am, but I grew up with both of them. Lost touch with them over the last decade. They were best friends but went separate ways…Family members are devastated and awaiting answers as well. It doesn’t make any sense.

“They were close, but Jason had battled drug addiction for years. Being a clean and narrow guy, I’m not sure what meth amphetamine does to people after 20-plus yrs of abuse…Jason Brady is the only one that knows what happened. I know Jimmy, or James, would give anyone the shirt off his back.”

Scene of the crime

Trinity County deputies said they received reports of a “suspicious circumstance” around 11:30 p.m.  Monday, April 4. Arriving at the residence on Carter Gulch Road, they spotted a person in the home, who then ran out the back in an attempt to escape.

Deputies pursued on foot and caught Brady a short distance from the home, where they found the two dead bodies. They didn’t disclose where the bodies were located.

Brady confessed the next day to the murders, Trinity County Sheriff’s investigators said.

Road to Hayfork, Trinity County, California.

Road to Hayfork, Trinity County, California.

Hayfork is out of the way, way way out of the way. With about 2,300 residents, it’s about 90 minutes west of Redding on Highway 3. The quiet community, nestled in forests north of the Mad River where everybody knows your name, was reeling from the event by all accounts.

“It’s a real shock to this town,” Rose Shelly, 40, said to the Redding Searchlight. She’s lived in Hayfork for 10 years and works as a clerk at Ernie’s True Value store on Brady Road. “Part of the time, I’m shocked,” Shelly said, “and part of the time, I want to cry.”

True Value  manager Kenny Halderman, 44, said he hadn’t been out of the store for the day, but noticed a “pretty rough” feeling among his customers.

Halderman and Shelly knew one of the victims, who stopped by to shop at their store, but said they hadn’t noticed anything unusual.

Kenny Wiley Jr., 29, of Wiley’s Supermarket said it’s common to know people in the neighborhood, especially in a small town like Hayfork.

Friends of the young Hayfork woman killed with her boyfriend described her to The Trinity Journal as a “beautiful, bright soul.”

Ronda Gonzalez, who taught senior seminar and was athletic director at Hayfork High School until her retirement last June said of the murders, said, “I’m still processing it. I’m heartsick.”

On a Friday, according to The Trinity Journal, a group of Patton’s close friends gathered at the home of one in Hayfork where they recalled overnights and good times with the friend they grew up with.

“She was the one person you knew was always going to stick up for you,” Lauren Kaz said.

Although there were “subgroups” at the high school, “she just got along with everyone,” Kaz said.

Emily Drain added: “No one felt like an outsider when Amanda was around. It’s hard losing your best friend when you’re 21.”

If anybody has any information about the two men and their possible connections prior to relocating to Trinity County, please contact us at

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