Man faces att’d murder, kidnap, torture, other charges, after DHS incident

DESERT HOT SPRINGS — A man was arrested and a woman was hospitalized after a domestic violence related incident at a Desert Hot Springs RV park and campground Wednesday evening, Feb. 6. The incident happened at Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA campground on the 70-000 block of Dillon Rd., east of Johnston Rd.


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Deputies assigned to Palm Desert Sheriff’s Station responded to the campground shortly before 7:30 p.m., after receiving a report of a domestic violence incident, Riverside Sheriff’s Sgt. Francisco Velasco later said. The 911 caller told emergency dispatchers her boyfriend had assaulted her and was preventing her from leaving the location. 

When deputies arrived they located the victim within the campground and determined she sustained “numerous injuries from the assault,” Velasco explained.

Because of her extensive injuries, AMR transported the victim to a local hospital, where she was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The suspect, John Leo Hemmer, 45, of South Dakota, initially refused to exit his RV, but was  eventually arrested and booked into Indio Jail on suspicion of kidnapping, torture, attempted murder, domestic violence, false imprisonment, making criminal threats, and resisting arrest. Jail records indicate he remains in custody on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned at Indio’s Larsen Justice Center, Feb. 11.

Anyone with any information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact Deputy Creiglow with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Palm Desert Station at (760) 836-1600 or call anonymously at (760) 341-STOP and reference incident # O190370017. Callers can refer to incident file number O190370017 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.

Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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