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Bill Macfadyen: Like Detectives, Readers Looking for Answers to Goleta Murder-Suicide Questions

After a flash-bang kind of night, NoozWeek’s Top 5 finds a melee in Isla Vista, comes across some graffiti fools, and drowns in a $10,000 water bill

That’s an unwelcome sight. Click to view larger
That’s an unwelcome sight. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

By the time you read this, a spacecraft that has been flying rings around Saturn for the last 13 years will have vaporized in an epic grand finale.

Before you bid arrivederci to NASA’s Cassini mission, it’s well worth your time to check out these breathtaking images from its historic journey. Then reflect on the magnitude of the engineering and scientific feats that made it possible. It’s awe-inspiring.

Still flying high is Noozhawk, which counted 141,153 readers in our orbit this past week, according to our Google Analytics.

What follows is my take on your top stories. I’m compelled to remind you that this is my opinion column and, as such, may contain opinion. You’ll be fine.

1. 2 Women Found Dead in Goleta in Apparent Murder-Suicide

If our traffic is any guide — and, as you know, that’s the whole point of this column — our readers have been captivated by the slow-developing apparent murder-suicide in Goleta.

As our Tom Bolton first reported, Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Hollister Village, across from Camino Real Marketplace, just after 7 a.m. Sept. 12. A resident of an apartment in the 7000 block of Aldus Drive had called 9-1-1 to report the discovery of an injured individual.

According to sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover, deputies arrived to find the body of a woman — later identified as Christina Maria Martin, 57, of Tampa, Fla. — inside the home. Soon after, she said, they found a second body — identified as Beth Curnow, 42, of Goleta — in the garage below.

Hoover said detectives believe Curnow killed Martin and then took her own life.

“The victim often frequented the residence,” she said of Martin, adding that the two women were “long-time acquaintances” with ties to Florida.

No other details have been released, and the circumstances of the killings and the motive behind them are under investigation. Autopsy results are pending.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division at 805.681.4150. Click here to leave an anonymous tip, or call 805.681.4171.

Click here for suicide prevention resources and information that are available 24/7.

In an odd twist, a large law enforcement contingent swarmed the neighborhood late on the night of Sept. 12 after receiving multiple reports of gunshots fired.

Sheriff’s deputies, joined by California Highway Patrol and UC Santa Barbara police officers, rushed to the scene about 10:30 p.m., setting up a perimeter around the building at 7021 Aldus Drive.

Hoover said authorities spent more than an hour trying to determine whether a shooting had occurred, going door to door to check on the welfare of residents.

They eventually determined there was nothing to the reports, she said. There was no immediate explanation of what residents actually had heard.

So far, Noozhawk has posted three stories about the case, with two in this week’s Top 5 and the third finishing in eighth place.

2. Thunderstorms Provide Dramatic End to Weekend in Santa Barbara County

Electrifying. Click to view larger
Electrifying. (Mike Eliason photo)

We all know the weather rarely deviates in Santa Barbara County. So why am I writing about it for the second week in a row?

Unsettled conditions the night of Sept. 10 produced a series of storms that included brief, torrential downpours, wind gusts as high as 50 mph, dime-size hail, a spectacular lightning show and rumbling thunder that was at times deafening.

The cluster of thunderstorms hung around until around dawn Sept. 11 before finally clearing out of the area.

Thank you to all of our Noozhawk readers who shared their lightning photos with us. They were striking.

3. 2 People, Including UCSB Police Officer, Injured in Large Isla Vista Fights

Fighting’s a losing battle on Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista. Click to view larger
Fighting’s a losing battle on Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

Fight night in Isla Vista, aka Saturday, got more out of control than usual Sept. 9 when a big party spilled out onto Del Playa Drive.

According to Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover, sheriff’s deputies and UC Santa Barbara police responded at around 11 p.m. to a large altercation in the 6700 block.

“One victim was transported to the hospital due to a moderate head injury he received as a result of the fight,” she told our Tom Bolton. “The large crowd dispersed and began moving eastbound on Del Playa.”

Forty minutes later, a second fight broke out near the intersection of Del Playa and Camino Del Sur. Hoover said a UCSB police officer was injured in that melee when a suspect allegedly resisted arrest. The officer was taken to the hospital, where she was treated for a concussion and later released.

Three days later, Isaac Brown, an 18-year-old Santa Barbara City College student and linebacker on the Vaqueros’ football team, was taken into custody on two counts of felony assault on a police officer, Hoover said.

He was booked into County Jail with bail set at $25,000.

4. 3 Men Arrested on Felony Vandalism Charges in Goleta Graffiti Incident

Tag, you’re it. Jackasses. Click to view larger
Tag, you’re it. Jackasses. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

In my mind, the stereotypical graffiti vandal is a young punk out past his bedtime. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw our Zack Warburg’s photos of three alleged taggers arrested in broad daylight Sept. 9 in Goleta.

They’re grown-ass men.

Albeit grown-ass men dressed in adorable boys’ clothing. Or should I say boyz? Knowimsayin’, holmes?

Kelly Hoover, a Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman, told our Tom Bolton that a citizen spotted the trio busy with their “art” project in a drainage culvert at Cathedral Oaks and Glen Annie roads.

“Sheriff’s deputies responded and located three males vandalizing the tunnel walls with large graffiti murals,” Hoover said. “Two of the suspects attempted to flee when they saw deputies but all three were detained.”

I guess they’re not as fleet of foot as they used to be, back in the day at recess. Or they parked their Razors too far away.

Hoover said the suspects were in possession of more than 60 cans of spray paint, five cans of paint, paint rollers, and a camera on a tripod — to make it easier for prosecutors.

Joseph Rocco Peransi, 31, of Santa Barbara, and Jansen Michael Lee, 31, and Gregory Winfield Smith, 32, both of Lompoc, were booked into County Jail on suspicion of conspiracy, vandalism of $400 or more, possession with the intent to commit vandalism or graffiti, and dumping waste matter in a creek, Hoover said.

It turns out there already was an arrest warrant out on Lee for felony graffiti and vandalism. Ooooh, he’s gonna be grounded!

Hoover said Lee was being held on $105,000 bail and Peransi on $45,000 bail, with an enhancement for commission of a felony after release on bail or own recognizance.

Smith was released after posting $20,000 bail. It was not known if his mom picked him up.

5. Santa Barbara Homeowner Loses Appeal for ‘Astronomical’ $10,000 Water Bill

Earlier this year, the City of Santa Barbara billed a Riviera couple $9,977.45 for water the city says they used between Nov. 17 and Dec. 20, 2016.

The usage is the equivalent to a constant flow of 6.8 gallons of water per minute — or a staggering 392 hundred cubic feet — for 30 straight days.

But Kay Robinson and Keith Schofield, the homeowners at 1617 Paterna Road, say there’s no way that happened, pointing out that their monthly average is 29 hundred cubic feet of water and they — and their neighbors — would have noticed an ocean cascading down the hillside.

On Sept. 12, the couple took their case to City Hall, where they squared off against Finance Director Bob Samario amid a trial-like appeal hearing before the City Council.

“We are not here merely to bicker about this bill,” Schofield said. “To me this is a matter of principle. We did not get this water.

“We’re not talking about a large amount of water, we are talking about an astronomical amount of water.”

Samario disagreed.

“We have to assume the water was used,” he countered.

Schofield believes the water meter malfunctioned, while Samario says there’s no evidence of that, citing the meter manufacturer’s assurances.​

In the end, the council sided with its water billing system on a 4-3 vote. Council members Jason Dominguez, Frank Hotchkiss, Cathy Murillo and Bendy White told the appellants to fork it over, with Mayor Helene Schneider and Councilmen Gregg Hart and Randy Rowse dissenting.

Robinson and Schofield actually will be paying a discounted $2,393 as the city apparently allows itself a pretty large cushion for bill adjustments. That — and the antiquated way we charge for water use in general — is worth a story all its own. We’ll open that spigot later this year.

                                                                  •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? 2 Men Found Dead Near Wreckage of Car Off Gibraltar Road Above Santa Barbara.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Flash forward from our recent lightning show: Cargo Ships Are Creating Sea Lightning. But is it really because of ship exhaust or is it the fact that the ships are the tallest metal things around?

                                                                  •        •        •

Watch It

This lunatic’s bogus boasts remind me of someone else with daddy issues and monumental insecurities. But who?

(Fox News video)

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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