California veterinarian’s death ruled a homicide

Published on October 29, 2014
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Dr. Richard J. Meinert, a popular mixed animal practitioner from Janesville, California, known for his compassion and generosity, was killed during a break-in at his veterinary clinic this summer.

Police investigators believe Dr. Meinert interrupted a burglary at the Thompson Peak Veterinary Service on the evening of June 22. It appears Dr. Meinert struggled with an intruder, who shot the veterinarian at close range. Lassen County sheriff’s deputies found Dr. Meinert’s body at the clinic the next morning. He was 55.

On the basis of autopsy and toxicology reports, along with evidence at the scene of the crime, the Lassen County sheriff’s office officially ruled Dr. Meinert’s death a homicide on Sept. 9.

At press time in October, the investigation into Dr. Meinert’s murder was ongoing. The sheriff’s office “continues to work this case from multiple directions, including following up on all leads or tips coming in from the community, forensics, and other investigative tools. We will continue to use all of the tools available to us until the murderer(s) are brought to justice,” the office said in a statement.

On Facebook, the Justice for Rich Meinert page has been created “to help bring justice for our local Vet and friend Rich Meinert and bring justice to his killer.”

Dr. Meinert was born Jan. 14, 1959, in Washington, D.C. He spent his childhood in Illinois, Tennessee, and Southern California, and moved to Janesville with his parents and five siblings in 1975.

His interest in animals began on the family ranch, where he learned to raise pigs, rabbits, cows, and horses. Dr. Meinert went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in animal science at the University of Nevada-Reno in 1984. Six years later, he received his DVM degree from Kansas State University.

For a time, Dr. Meinert was licensed in five western states, Kansas, and New Hampshire. He studied livestock diseases related to bioterrorism at Plum Island Animal Disease Center and researched bovine tuberculosis for the California Department of Agriculture. He worked for several years as the contract veterinarian for the Bureau of Land Management’s horse and burro program in Litchfield, California.

Additionally, Dr. Meinert volunteered as the fair veterinarian at the Lassen County Fair and taught young members of the Lassen Dairy Group, 4-H Club, and National FFA Organization about animal husbandry.