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Bill Macfadyen: Murder-Suicide in the Sierra Touches Santa Barbara, Too

A train death, an apparent diving accident, and a man and his dog killed in a hit-and-run collision make this NoozWeek a grisly one. And then there's Chick-fil-A

What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. Northern California Murder-Suicide Hits Home in Santa Barbara

A Calaveras County man apparently shot and killed his teenage children as they slept Jan. 31 before killing himself in their Murphys home. The Sierra Nevada murder-suicide was shocking enough, but the tragedy’s trauma extended all the way to Santa Barbara, where the family lived as recently as 2011.

Alex Marshall
Alex Marshall

According to Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department officials, Philip Marshall, 54, killed his son, Alex, 17, and daughter Macaila, 14, as the children slept on the living room couch. After also killing the family dog, Marshall apparently turned the gun on himself. The grisly scene inside the house wasn’t discovered until Feb. 2.

Joel Metzger of the Calaveras Enterprise reported that autopsies revealed no new information, and toxicology reports won’t be completed for several weeks. Among other things, authorities want to know whether the children were drugged first and what Marshall’s state of mind might have been at the time of the crime.

Macaila Marshall
Macaila Marshall

News of the murders spread like wildfire in Santa Barbara. In 2010 and 2011, Alex attended San Marcos High School and Macaila was a student at La Colina Junior High. At the time of their deaths, both were students at Bret Harte High School in Angels Camp, about 80 miles southeast of Sacramento.

While there has been plenty of speculation about the deaths, authorities say no note was found and an official motive has not yet been determined.

Marshall’s wife, Sean, had filed for divorce in October 2012 and the estranged couple’s first hearing reportedly was scheduled for Feb. 25.

In 2008, Calaveras County sheriff’s records show that Marshall was arrested on a battery charge after a fight with his wife and her sister. No charges were filed in the case.

Authorities say Sean Marshall was traveling in Turkey at the time of the killings.

Click here for additional news coverage of the case from the Calaveras Enterprise, which has graciously shared its stories with Noozhawk.

2. Man Struck, Killed by Train in Apparent Suicide Near State Street

A 63-year-old Santa Barbara man was struck and killed by an Amtrak train Feb. 3 in Santa Barbara, and Santa Barbara police say the incident appeared to be a suicide.

Police say the man lay down on the tracks as the northbound passenger train approached the Anacapa Street crossing. His body was dragged almost to State Street, a block away.

Although the man’s family has been notified, Noozhawk has not yet been able to confirm his name. The police investigation is continuing.

» Click here for free suicide prevention resources that are available 24 hours a day.

3. Two Sides of the Bun on Santa Barbara Chick-fil-A Opening

In what turned out to be the most anticipated restaurant launch since In-N-Out Burger finally came to the South Coast in 1995, Chick-fil-A opened Feb. 7 at 3707 State St. in Santa Barbara.

Dozens of Chick-fil-A fans went so far as to camp out in the national chicken chain’s parking lot to be first in line when the grills fired up. A few miles away, meanwhile, Chick-fil-A opponents gathered to condemn the new business and call for a local boycott over what they say is the company’s support of anti-gay and hate groups.

Customers will have the final say, but Chick-fil-A plans to open three more stores in California this month.

4. Driver Arrested After Man, Dog Killed in Hit-and-Run

A man and his dog were struck by a car and killed Feb. 5 as they walked along North Blosser Road in Santa Maria. The alleged driver ran from the scene with his passenger but was arrested on suspicion of felony hit and run when he returned about an hour later.

The victim, a 56-year-old man, was walking his dog about 7 p.m. when a speeding car hit them, about a quarter-mile north of Rancho Verde, Santa Maria police said. The pair died at the scene, and police have withheld the victim’s identity pending notification of relatives.

While police were investigating the collision, the suspected driver, Alvino Corona, 19, of Santa Maria, returned to the car and was arrested. Corona’s passenger, his wife, Veronica, 18, was not arrested.

Corona was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail and police say their investigation could result in additional charges being filed.

5. Diver Found Dead Near Santa Cruz Was Solvang Man

A 59-year-old Solvang man was found dead off Santa Cruz Island on Feb. 1 after he disappeared during a diving expedition on the island’s north side.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department identified the diver as Bill Oooms, and said he was among a group diving from the 22-foot Coram Deo out of Santa Barbara Harbor. He went missing at midday and was located by fellow divers about four hours later.

The cause and manner of death remain under investigation.

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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