Santa Barbara police
Lower State Street in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone was closed while police investigated the March 14 murder of a homeless woman. (Santa Barbara Police Department photo)

A transient was arrested Monday on suspicion of homicide and robbery in connection with the death of woman whose body was discovered in a lower State Street parking lot, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.

Gabriel Jose Zepeda, 46, was taken into custody without incident on the 2900 block of State Street, Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale said.

At about 7:30 a.m., police dispatchers received a report about an unresponsive female lying in the parking lot of a business on the first block of State Street, Ragsdale said.

“Officers and paramedics arrived on scene, and determined the female was deceased and lifesaving measures would not be effective in attempting to resuscitate her,” Ragsdale said. “It appears the female victim was homeless and potentially in her late 40s or early 50s.”

The woman’s name was not released pending notification of relatives.

State Street was shut down to all vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists between Cabrillo Boulevard and Mason Street while detectives and forensics experts were investigating.

“Detectives learned of a potential suspect who was in the area where the female victim had been located,” Ragsdale said. “The suspect in this investigation was wearing a GPS tracking ankle monitor, per the terms of his probation.”

Detectives were able to utilize tracking software as well as other physical evidence at the scene to link Zepeda to the killing, Ragsdale said.

Zepeda was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of homicide and robbery, both felonies.

His bail was set at $1 million, and he remained in custody Monday night.

Zepeda had been released from County Jail last Thursday, Ragsdale said.

He has a lengthy criminal record, and was arrested in November on felony burglary charges.

“This investigation is still active, ongoing, and the cause of death is unknown pending autopsy,” Ragsdale said, adding that there appears to be no known affiliation between Zepeda and the victim.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at