Santa Cruz search continues for missing L.A. man

BONNY DOON — Under a canopy of redwood trees, search crews and cadaver dogs regrouped after a four-hour search Thursday for the body of a Los Angeles man presumed to be dead after a drug deal gone wrong.

Klaus, a German shepherd search dog, panted heavily as he recovered at the top of a trail off of Smith Grade Road in Bonny Doon.

Kristine Black, his handler, sprayed water from her CamelBak into his mouth to keep him hydrated.

"We share everything out here," Black said as she fought to catch her breath. "You have to when you're out here for so long."

The partners from Santa Clara County's Sheriff's Office K-9 Specialized Search Team searched in 70 degree heat through thick brush and redwood groves off Smith Grade Road near where Sorokin's truck was found. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. the team did a wide sweep of the area, climbing up and down steep slopes and swatting away insects. Two other search dogs from the search team also canvassed the area Thursday, but no body was recovered.

"Every time we do a search, we work with law enforcement to come up with a new strategy for each day and we cover the areas we are asked to," Black said. "Officers don't always tell us everything; we just go out and cover the specified areas. It's not like trying to search for a needle in a haystack."

The canine teams are trained to locate evidence of a crime scene, residual scent, blood, tissue or body fluids and are also experts in locating
bones or teeth for identification, drowned or submerged bodies and bodies buried in rubble.

Santa Cruz police spokesman Zach Friend said the search dogs used evidence found in Sorokin's truck to pick up the scent.

"We are at the tail end of this assignment for this area," Black said. "We will go back and debrief with the sergeant and we will go from there and continue to move forward."

The team mainly searches on assignment in Northern California but has covered searches as far as Humboldt and San Bernardino counties and the Bishop area.

"We have found about 20 bodies this year and average about 30 a year," Black said. "These dogs are trained to find the scent and find it, whatever form it may come in."

Sorokin, 29, was last heard from on July 20 as he drove from Oakland to Santa Cruz. Police have said he had prearranged a drug deal in Santa Cruz, but that the marijuana sale went wrong and Sorokin was kidnapped, robbed and killed on July 21.

Friend said teams will continue to search the area where his truck was found, and that the Santa Clara County team also has offered to continue to assist in the search.

"We anticipate the usage of the helicopter again as it allows us to canvass more ground," Friend said. "We will continue to sweep down to Empire Grade Road."

The Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office filed murder, kidnapping and robbery charges against Adam Spencer Hunt, 29, of Watsonville, and Stewart Skuba, 31, of Santa Cruz this week. Both were in court Wednesday, when they were appointed attorneys. Neither defendant entered a plea. They will return to court Aug. 18.

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