Detectives reopen cold case homicide
SANTA BARBARA — The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department announced Tuesday that it is reopening a 45-year-old homicide case.
Paul Ornelas, who was 16 at the time of his death on June 21, 1975, was found deceased near the railroad tracks at the Turnpike Road overpass in the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara. The investigation was quickly deemed a homicide and detectives conducted a lengthy investigation that spanned several years, Raquel Zick, sheriff’s spokeswoman, said in a news release.
No suspects were arrested in connection with the incident.
The victim is described as a Santa Barbara resident with a loving family and deep local ties. The unsolved murder “has left his family with lingering grief,” Ms. Zick said.
Thanks to advancements in DNA technology and forensics processing methods, the cold case investigation is being reopened and assigned to detectives within the Criminal Investigations Division.
The Sheriff’s Office recently introduced a new investigative tool that has proven effective in a number of critical investigations. The ANDE Rapid DNA instrument was used during the Conception boat tragedy in 2019 to allow detectives to quickly identify the victims. The instrument has also been used to process minute levels of biological evidence left behind by suspects at crime scenes.
“This technology was not available at the time of the Ornelas homicide in 1975, but thanks to the preservation of evidence, and new comprehensive DNA procedures, the ANDE instrument offers a new, reliable, and effective tool for investigators to revisit the case,” Ms. Zick said.
The homicide investigation is currently assigned to the Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit within the Criminal Investigations Bureau.
“This highly trained and specialized unit is responsible for conducting complex and often lengthy investigations into unsolved homicides similar to the Ornelas case,” Ms. Zick said. “It is with our hope that continued advancement in DNA technology will further assist in solving these historical cases and generate new leads to bring closure to the families affected by these tragic and senseless crimes.”
— Mitchell White
Two arrested after brush fire
SANTA BARBARA — Two people have been arrested in connection with a fire that occurred Saturday morning in the 300 block of Bath Street in Santa Barbara, police said.
The fire was reported around 1 a.m. Saturday. It spread to an outbuilding or shed on the property at 315 Bath St., and two subjects were observed walking away from the area. Both subjects, Juan Carlos Deharo, 48, and Andrew Elliot, 35, were detained, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.
Mr. Dehora fled and resisted arrest, according to authorities.
Officers developed probable cause to arrest both men. Mr. Deharo was arrested on suspicion of railroad trespass, resisting arrest, recklessly causing a fire and possession of methamphetamine. Mr. Elliot was arrested on suspicion of railroad trespass, recklessly causing a fire, possession of methamphetamine and other drug paraphernalia, police said.
The fire was extinguished and caused an estimated $10,000 in property damage and $50,000 in content damage, according to the Santa Barbara City Fire Department.
The blaze caused significant damage to a storage container, equipment and tools on the property.
— Mitchell White
Deltopia crime stats released
ISLA VISTA — The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department announced Tuesday that a total of 20 citations and five arrests were made during the unsanctioned street party event known as Deltopia.
Eleven citations were issued for minors in possession of alcohol and five citations were issued for open containers. One citation was issued for drinking in public, one for noise ordinance and another for drinking in a park, said Raquel Zick, sheriff’s spokeswoman.
The Sheriff’s Office announced that two DUI arrests were made, one arrest was made for fighting in public, one for possession of a controlled substance, one for possession of nitrous oxide and one for possessing a loaded firearm on campus.
The 2021 crime statistics were well below the 94 citations and 38 arrests made in connection with the 2019 event. The event was canceled last year due to the pandemic.
Around 1:15 a.m. Saturday, Sheriff’s deputies assisted UCSB Police assigned to the Isla Vista Foot Patrol station on a traffic stop in the area of El Colegio and Ocean roads. The stop was conducted for an alleged improper lane change. The driver, Angel Carachure-Munoz, 20, of Santa Barbara, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and possession of a weapon. He was booked at the Main Jail and has since been released, Ms. Zick said.
The passenger, 32-year-old Ismael Torres, of Lompoc, was found to have a firearm concealed in his waistband and was arrested on suspicion of being a felon carrying a loaded and concealed firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and altering a firearm marking. He was booked at the Main Jail and has since been released on bail.
— Mitchell White
Disaster preparedness meeting scheduled
MONTECITO — The Montecito Emergency Response & Recovery Action Group will be holding a disaster preparedness course from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday via Zoom.
The class will offer lessons on the types and elements of disaster and its potential impacts on infrastructure; community alerts and warnings, evacuation routes and how to obtain critical information; how to practice skills and personal plans through periodic drills at home and in your neighborhood; and how to network to be able to help others, according to a news release.
The class will also include information on how to participate in community feedback opportunities and how to volunteer.
Registration required, and those interested in taking part in the meeting can visit merrag.org/training for more information.
— Mitchell White