There were 80,600 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What were your top five stories?
The body of a 20-year-old UC Santa Barbara student was found on the beach below Isla Vista early on May 4, and authorities are investigating the circumstances of her death.
Sierra Markee-Winkler, 20, of Eureka, was discovered about 7 a.m. by a bicyclist, who called 9-1-1, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said.
“The exact cause and manner of death will not be determined for several weeks and is pending a coroner’s investigation,” she said.
The Sacramento Bee reported that Markee-Winkler — a second-year student pursuing a double major in philosophy and language, culture and society — was a 2012 graduate of Grass Valley’s Nevada Union High School, where she was senior class valedictorian, a cheerleader and a champion debater. Her family moved to Eureka after she graduated.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact the Isla Vista Foot Patrol at 805.681.4179.
Thayer White, UC Berkeley sophomore and former star athlete at San Marcos High School, was viciously attacked outside a fraternity party near campus April 27 and has been hospitalized ever since with brain injuries.
According to Berkeley police, a man wielding a baseball bat struck White and a Zeta Psi brother in their heads after a confrontation in the parking lot of the fraternity house. The incident apparently took place after party-crashers were asked to leave.
Police quickly apprehended the suspect, identified as Frank Watson, 23, of Oakland, Berkeleyside.com reported. He’s been charged with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
White’s buddy, Benjamin Calder, has since recovered from his injuries.
White has not been as lucky, but he’s a determined kid and has plenty of fight in him. His mom, Michele, who has been at his bedside for the last two weeks, has been keeping family and friends informed about his progress through a CaringBridge page. Her heartfelt posts are as much about the emotional roller-coaster she’s riding herself as they are about her son, which is one of the reasons a growing community of well-wishers is devouring what she writes.
White also is the son of one of Santa Barbara’s most prominent orthodontists, Dr. Stewart White, and the family can draw support from a deep reservoir of appreciative parents of children — and a few adults, myself included — whose smiles he’s straightened.
Hang tough, Thayer. The Bear will not quit, The Bear will not die. This vid’s for you:
Gerald “Pastor G” Torres, executive pastor at Reality Church Carpinteria, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after crashing a motorcycle in Carpinteria, suffering major head injuries, broken bones and abrasions.
What is astonishing — on so many levels — is that his 8-year-old son was riding as his passenger and was mostly unhurt after being thrown from the bike.
The California Highway Patrol said Torres, 43, was driving a 1998 Yamaha westbound on Casitas Pass Road about 4 p.m. May 3. Just east of Lillingston Canyon Road, the CHP said, he veered off the road and ran into a traffic sign and a fence.
Torres was arrested on suspicion of DUI, the CHP said. He was then transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he underwent surgery the next day.
His son came through the wreck with just a scraped shin, and the CHP said he was released to a family friend at the scene.
Reality Church has placed Torres on administrative leave.
“We are thankful for the sparing of Pastor Torres’ life, that he will recover from his injuries and that his son did not suffer any significant harm,” the church said in a statement. “Sadly, Pastor Torres had consumed alcohol and is currently being investigated by law enforcement for driving under the influence.
“It was a terrible mistake, and it is sin on his part.”
A longtime Santa Ynez Valley girls soccer coach has been arrested on suspicion of committing sex crimes against a child.
Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said Jose Diaz, 42, of Solvang, was arrested May 6 for alleged sexual relations with a teenager when she was 14 and 15 years old. He also was charged with annoying or molesting a child and oral copulation with a child, Hoover said.
Diaz is being held at County Jail on $100,000 bail.
Hoover said Diaz has been a soccer coach with the local American Youth Soccer Organization girls league for approximately 18 years. Given his longevity, she said, detectives are concerned there may be other victims.
Anyone with information in the case is encouraged to call the sheriff’s confidential tip line at 805.681.4171.
The two-story house at 830 Serenidad Place in Goleta looks like an attractive, well-kept property, but neighbors say it’s the loud music, drinking and partying that go on there that make the place anything but one of serenity.
According to sheriff’s Lt. Butch Arnoldi, deputies have responded to the address 29 times in the last 18 months for noise complaints and other disturbing the peace issues. Three criminal citations have been issued.
Neighbors blame an absentee landlord, Robert Bullemer of Goleta, who operates the house as a short-term vacation rental in the quiet residential neighborhood off La Goleta Road a block west of Santa Marguerita Drive. According to Internet ads, the 3,900-square-foot house has four bedrooms and three bathrooms, and can be yours for $600 a night or $2,200 per week, along with a $500 security deposit.
A fed-up City Council has taken up the issue, which drew a dozen ticked-off neighbors — and Bullemer — to the May 6 council meeting.
“We have put in literally hundreds of hours of staff time, dozens of hours of law enforcement time, all because of you — no one else in this community but you — on this issue,” Mayor Michael Bennett told Bullemer.
The council recommended one last attempt at mediation with Bullemer before considering municipal code changes that would put “teeth” into enforcement and even potential condemnation of the property.
For his part, Bullemer said he was willing to cooperate with neighbors, but he also asserted that several of the complaints were bogus.
Bennett wasn’t buying it.
“I think it’s despicable and I think it’s a sad commentary that you would take advantage of your neighbors to make this kind of money and not cooperate with them,” he said. “You have complete control over your property, you’re the person who rents it out, you’re the person who can take care of who you rent it out to.”
Neighbor Cathy Wolf said there are groups of 30 people who descend on the house and spend the weekend drinking and playing basketball nonstop, cursing loudly every time they miss a basket.
She says vacationing families aren’t the problem.
“It’s these college kids on the weekends who are destroying everything,” she said.
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As first pitches go, this is pretty cool.
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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at email@example.com, follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.