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‘Hard losing your best friend when you’re 21’

Hayfork still reeling from double homicide

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Friends of the young Hayfork woman killed with her boyfriend last week described her as a “beautiful, bright soul.”

Amanda Patton, 21, and James Jachna, 41, were found dead at their residence on Carter Gulch Road in Hayfork after deputies received a call reporting suspicious circumstances at about 11:30 p.m. April 4. Jason Paul Brady, 40, of Escondido, fled the residence but was caught by deputies.

Brady has been charged by the Trinity County District Attorney’s Office with two counts of premeditated murder and numerous special allegations including lying in wait, murder for financial gain and use of a handgun.

Brady, who is being held in the Trinity County Jail without bail, was arraigned in Trinity County Superior Court on the charges April 7 and is scheduled to enter a plea April 20.

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

Investigators have said Brady admitted to killing both victims.

The violent deaths have cast a pall over Hayfork where many knew Patton who grew up there.

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

She described Patton, who graduated three years ago, as a student with “a lot of promise” who was involved with all school activities and graduated as a leader of her class.

“The room would light up when she walked in,” Gonzalez said. “I truly loved her.”

On Friday 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.

“No one felt like an outsider when Amanda was around,” agreed Emily Drain.

“It’s hard losing your best friend when you’re 21,” Drain said.

Amanda could be protective of her friends.

“If someone messed with us they were going to hear from Amanda,” said Amanda Patton’s cousin Ivy Patton, who was the same age and like a lot of people described her cousin as “a beautiful, bright soul.”

“I always imagined our kids playing together,” she said. “I never imagined anything else.”

“There was never a dull moment with Amanda,” added Alicia Hall, describing an infectious laugh that was often accompanied by a snort.

The group did not know Jachna but said he seemed to make her happy.

“Amanda loved him. He loved her,” Drain said.

Out in the community, a woman said Jachna “would give you the shirt off his back.”

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