Humboldt County authorities have found human remains not far from the abandoned vehicle of Berkeley artist and musician Beebee Simmons, who has been missing for nearly a month.
Betty Baxter Simmons, who goes by the names “Beebee” or “BB,” was reportedly last seen outside her West Berkeley apartment in early September several days before Labor Day. On Sept. 24, authorities found her silver Toyota Prius abandoned on a Northern California logging road called Snow Camp Road. It “may have been stuck there for some time,” the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office said in a prepared statement last week.
On Friday, authorities recovered partial human remains from the Snow Camp Road area and alerted Simmons’ family due to their proximity to her abandoned Prius, Samantha Karges, spokeswoman for the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, told Berkeleyside on Saturday. A timber company employee had called authorities Friday just before 10:50 a.m. to report the discovery.
“We can’t officially confirm that these remains belong to Simmons until we conduct DNA testing,” said Karges. “There is currently no evidence that a crime has been committed and foul play is not suspected. However, it is too soon to rule anything out. A forensic examination of the remains will hopefully tell us more.”
Wendy Simmons-Taylor, Simmons’ half-sister, told Berkeleyside the remains that were found included only a few bones, a skull and dentures. She said she had been told her Simmons’ purse and license were also in the area, however. Additional search efforts were scheduled to take place Monday, Simmons-Taylor said.
Unclear why missing Berkeley woman was in Humboldt
The circumstances of Simmons’ disappearance remain a mystery. But authorities said previously that they found directions to a Trinity County Buddhist temple called Chagdud Gonpa Rigdzin Ling inside her car. Last week, Berkeleyside spoke with members of the temple who could find no obvious record that Simmons had ever been there.
On Saturday, one member of the temple said he had learned since speaking with Berkeleyside last week that Simmons had, in fact, visited at least once in the past for meditation and a Dharma talk. But she had not been there recently.
Several of Simmons’ friends have contacted Berkeleyside to share information about her this week. Sandra Green described Simmons as “a talented and passionate artist with whom one could connect in her long-cultivated cultural, musical, and spiritual endeavors. She trained and contributed to the humane arts in a time when many of her generation (though certainly not for all), flourished… in the better economic and social conditions that afforded opportunities to spend time among gifted others: to explore, seize and make one’s own many bodies of knowledge.”
Simmons had been a frequent visitor to a longstanding folk music jam session at a Berkeley home on Shasta Road, said local resident Steve Taylor, who also went to the jams.
“The folk musicians of Berkeley tend to be older, former hippies who fondly remember the ’60s, and in many ways still embody the spirit and the idealism of that era,” he said. “Beebee, I’d say, would fit that mold.”
Another friend, Julia Scott-Jackson — who took the photograph Simmons used as her Facebook profile photo, which appears at the top of this article — described Simmons as “a gracious, warm and delightful person everytime we engaged in conversation through the years.”
“It makes me sad to think of her, with her car broken down, and wandering around looking for help or a way out, if that is what happened,” she said.
“So quiet around here without her”
Simmons’ neighbor Lolita Porlaris told Berkeleyside last week that it was out-of-character for Simmons to go on a long trip. The two women have lived in the same four-unit West Berkeley apartment building on Eighth Street between Channing Way and Dwight Way for 17 years. Simmons already lived there when Porlaris moved in.
Porlaris said she saw Simmons packing up to leave on the trip a few days before Labor Day. Simmons had mentioned something about a five-hour drive, and seemed a bit stressed out about the upcoming journey, Porlaris recalled. Simmons was hurrying to get on the road and initially forgot one of her instruments — a banjo or ukelele — outside in the driveway.
Porlaris said Simmons had always been like a resident manager for the small building. Her presence has been missed, she added.
“It’s just so quiet around here without her,” Porlaris said. “I’m just hoping she’s OK wherever she’s at.”