Los Angeles Times

O.C. deaths are shrouded in mystery

Newport Beach police think 2 victims were targeted but have no motive or suspect.

- By Hannah Fry and Julia Sclafani Sclafani writes for Times Community News.

Newport Beach police believe the two victims were targeted but have not determined a motive or suspect.

Detectives are trying to determine when two people whose bodies were discovered late Sunday inside a locked Newport Beach condominiu­m were killed as the investigat­ion into the mysterious double homicide stretches into a third day.

The bodies of Darren Partch, 38, of Newport Beach and Wendi Miller, 48, of Costa Mesa were found by Partch’s roommate shortly after 9:30 p.m. when he returned home after a few days away.

The unit, located in a complex in the 2100 block of East 15th Street across from Newport Harbor High School, was locked when the roommate got home. There were no signs of forced entry, police said.

Partch was a retired hockey player who last played for the San Diego Gulls during the 2005-’06 season in the ECHL. More recently, he worked as an account executive for a marketing company, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Miller was chief executive of Wings for Justice, a Newport Beach nonprofit that advocates for children in the family court system. She also was an advocate for people who have experience­d domestic violence.

The mother of two was last seen around 1:45 a.m. Saturday after going to a Laguna Beach bar, according to friends who launched a campaign on social media to find her after she went missing.

Friends said she was going to give Partch a ride home because the two lived a few blocks from each other. When Miller didn’t show up to Easter festivitie­s over the weekend, her friends and family became concerned.

Miller’s son Luke Carpenter wrote on Facebook that his mother had been shot, but police would not confirm how she or Partch died.

“I have no doubt in my mind that she was loved on earth and I’m happy that she gets to be loved even better in heaven. I love you mom,” he wrote in the post.

Investigat­ors suspect the pair were specifical­ly targeted by an assailant, though a motive for the killings was not immediatel­y clear.

No arrests have been made.

Miller alleged in a video on the Wings for Justice website that she was sexually abused during her marriage.

She lost custody of her children more than eight years ago as a result of family court proceeding­s in Ottawa County, Mich., she said.

“She was a Christian and a really sweet lady who would do anything for you,” Miller’s neighbor Terri Rawson told KTLA-TV Channel 5. “It’s shocking and heartbreak­ing that she won’t be with us. I’m really going to miss her because she’s a great neighbor.”

Anyone with informatio­n about the case is asked to call Det. Rick Henry at (949) 644-3797.

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