Pixel Tracker

Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 3:28 am | Fair 44º


Bill Macfadyen: Another UCSB Student Found Dead on Beach Below Isla Vista

NoozWeek’s Top 5 follows an attack on Thayer White at UC Berkeley, an alleged DUI crash of a prominent pastor, an alleged creeper in the AYSO ranks, and Goleta’s House of Horrors

There were 80,600 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What were your top five stories?

1. Body of UCSB Student Found on Beach Below Isla Vista

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.

At UC Santa Barbara, Sierra Markee-Winkler was a double major in philosophy and language, culture and society. (Facebook photo)
At UC Santa Barbara, Sierra Markee-Winkler was a double major in philosophy and language, culture and society. (Facebook photo)

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.

Isla Vista Foot Patrol and county Fire Department personnel responded to the scene below the 6800 block of Del Playa Drive, but Hoover said the woman was dead.

“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.

2. San Marcos Grad Suffers Brain Injury in Assault Outside Fraternity at UC Berkeley

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.

Thayer White was a golf and basketball star at San Marcos High School. (Presidio Sports file photo)
Thayer White was a golf and basketball star at San Marcos High School. (Presidio Sports file photo)

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.

On Friday, White was well enough to be transferred home, or at least to the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital ICU closer to home.

Hang tough, Thayer. The Bear will not quit, The Bear will not die. This vid’s for you:

(KirbyEater video)

3. Local Pastor Arrested on Suspicion of DUI, Placed on Leave After Motorcycle Crash

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.”

4. Longtime AYSO Coach Arrested on Sex-Crime Charges

A longtime Santa Ynez Valley girls soccer coach has been arrested on suspicion of committing sex crimes against a child.

Jose Diaz
Jose Diaz

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.

830 Serenidad Place may not look spooky, but neighbors say it’s a real house of horrors. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)
830 Serenidad Place may not look spooky, but neighbors say it’s a real house of horrors. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

5. Neighbors, Goleta Council Rebuke Owner of Complaint-Heavy Vacation Rental

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.

                                                                        •        •

As first pitches go, this is pretty cool.

(G4MarchMadnessHD video)

                                                                  •        •        •

If you value our unmatched breaking news and in-depth reporting on the issues that you care about, please support our experienced staff of professional journalists and help us continue to provide a vital forum for the community.

How can you help?

» Join our Hawks Club.

Membership Options

Checks can be snail-mailed to Noozhawk, P.O. Box 101, Santa Barbara 93102.

» .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or market your business, organization, service or event.

» Subscribe to our free daily A.M. Report.

» Display your Noozhawk pride with a 3-inch-square Noozhawk sticker. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Noozhawk Promotions, P.O. Box 101, Santa Barbara 93102. The free stickers — as well as full-sized bumper stickers and pens — also are available at Noozhawk World Headquarters, 1327-A State St., by the historic Arlington Theatre.

» Like us on Facebook.

» Follow us on Twitter.

Please note that personal contributions to Noozhawk are not deductible as charitable donations.

Thank you for your support.

— 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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >