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Man charged in wife's death after police shot her during California standoff he incited

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Posted at 2:53 PM, Dec 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-29 18:29:33-05

CALIFORNIA — In a tale full of twist and turns, a Las Vegas, Nevada couple was involved in a motel standoff with Sonoma County deputies in Northern California.

23-year-old Mary and 32-year-old Joseph Mantynen, a Las Vegas couple, were tracked down at a Ukiah, California, motel by Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputies after allegedly stealing multiple weapons from a family member in Sonoma, California on Dec. 20.

Deputies arrived at the Sunrise Inn motel around 7 p.m. on Dec. 21.  Joseph was outside of the motel when officers arrived and quickly ran into his room to grab his .22-caliber rifle.

The Press Democrat reported details of the ensuing standoff:

The motel room’s front door remained open and the couple retreated to the bathroom. A standoff ensued, with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s SWAT unit arriving to support law enforcement.

Mary Mantynen, who was wanted for parole violations in Nevada, screamed at officers and deputies that she did not want to go back to jail.

Around 8 p.m., Joseph Mantynen pointed the .22-caliber rifle at law enforcement from the bathroom. Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputy James Elmore responded with an undisclosed number of shots. Geniella said Joseph Mantynen was unharmed and turned himself in to deputies when he saw his wife had been struck by at least one bullet. Mary Mantynen was found dead in the bathroom. Her official cause of death has not been released.

The Press Democrat also says that Mary Mantynen called her mother in Pahrump three times on the night of Dec. 21 while officers surrounded her motel room — they hadn't spoken in months.

Mary, the mother of two young sons and a stepdaughter, got through to her mother, Lori Harvey, around 8 p.m.

“She was crying hysterically and told me to say goodbye to her sons,” Harvey said according to The Press Democrat. “The last thing I said to her was, ‘Don’t be silly, just turn yourself in.’”

By 9 p.m. Mary Mantynen had died in the bathroom of the motel room. Joseph Mantynen was then charged with murder in the death of his wife since she was killed during a standoff he incited.

“They were yelling about going down not surrendering and he pointed his gun toward an officer,” said Mike Geniella, spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office. “If you provoke law enforcement to shoot, and someone is killed, you can be held responsible.”

Mary Mantynen's mother Lori believes she knows why her daughter and son-in-law were on the run. She says the couple was evading police because her daughter once again began taking drugs and she wouldn’t be able to pass a drug test required by her parole.