A 44-year-old fitness professional and ex-con, who was already in jail for alleged serial burglary attempts in Irvine, was arrested today on suspicion of double murder in weekend slayings that rocked and mystified a Newport Beach neighborhood.
Jamon Rayon Buggs, 44, of Huntington Beach, is currently being held in Orange County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail, according to the Newport Beach Police Department.
Other than confirming that, the sketchy details of the killings and that the suspect is the same man the Irvine Police Department recently announced had been arrested for a string of attempted break-ins, a NBPD press release states, “This is an open and ongoing investigation and no additional details are available at this time.”
The bodies of Wendi Sue Miller, 48, of Costa Mesa, and 38-year-old Darren Donald Partch were found in his Newport Beach condominium in the 2100 block of East 15th Street on Sunday evening, police say.
Besides confirming the pair was discovered by Partch’s male roommate, that he did not know who Miller was, that there was no sign of forced entry, that they believed the violence was contained to the condo, that there was no threat to other Newport Beach residents and that they were investigating two murders and not a murder-suicide, police have not provided any more details.
It was Miller’s son who disclosed his mother had been shot before last being seen leaving a bar in Laguna Beach Friday night. Luke Carpenter said his family had been looking for his mother ever since she disappeared. Others disclosed she had been the CEO of Wings for Justice, an organization that aims to protect children in the family court system.
Partch was described by friends as a former minor league hockey player working as a financial consultant. One said Partch met Miller at the bar that night and that she agreed to give him a ride home.
The end of today’s NBPD press release gives an idea on how widespread the investigation has been: “The Newport Beach Police Department would like to thank our law enforcement partners, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Orange County Crime Lab, Irvine Police Department, Laguna Beach Police Department, Costa Mesa Police Department, Santa Ana Police Department, and Anaheim Police Department for their assistance with this investigation.”
The Irvine Police Department had previously announced that Buggs was arrested Monday on suspicion of a series of attempted burglaries in that city, including one in which he allegedly fired a bullet into a residence when spotted by an occupant.
Awaiting the filing of murder counts, Buggs already faces charges of attempted burglary, shooting into an inhabited dwelling, possession of a firearm by a felon, hit-and-run and evading police, according to Irvine Police Lt. Dave Klug.
Buggs is suspected in an attempted break-in around 11:35 p.m. Saturday, when an intruder made eye contact with a resident on a second-story balcony and, while fleeing, allegedly fired a bullet into the residence.
Surveillance video from another residence shows a man who police believe is the same intruder trying but failing to open a front door about 5 a.m. Sunday before leaving, according to Klug, who noted both homes are near Harvard Avenue and Barranca Parkway.
Around 12:15 a.m., Irvine cops patrolling that area saw “a suspicious vehicle” but, when trying to pull it over, the driver sped off, Klug says. That led to a short chase before the driver collied with a parked car, got out of his vehicle and ran off, the lieutenant says.
The man being chased on foot allegedly broke into an unoccupied home but, when trying to run away around 4 a.m., he was apprehended, taken into custody and later identified as Buggs, Klug says.
His Newport Beach counterparts have not yet revealed how Buggs was identified as a suspect in the murders or what previously sent him to prison.
Someone with the same name (Jamon Rayon Buggs) and photographs that resemble the suspect pops up in several fitness-released social media pages. See:
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.