Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Violence in Orange County

Charles Starnes stands among photographs Wednesday of Zachary Castaneda, the suspect in a deadly rampage in Orange County. Castaneda, of Garden Grove, is accused of stabbing four people to death.
Charles Starnes stands among photographs Wednesday of Zachary Castaneda, the suspect in a deadly rampage in Orange County. Castaneda of Garden Grove is accused of stabbing four people to death.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Aug. 3.

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Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:

Top Stories

Two hours of terror. In one of the worst binges of violence Orange County has seen in recent years, a man stabbed four people to death and injured two more over roughly a 2½-hour period. One police official described it as “pure evil.”

Cliff collapse. Scientists say it’s already difficult to predict when cliff collapses, such as the one that killed three women in Encinitas, will happen. Sea-level rise is complicating the science further.


Manson victims. Cold-case investigators believe Charles Manson and his cult followers may have been responsible for as many as 12 unsolved murders. Meanwhile, the families of the known victims are still fighting to keep the people who took their lives behind bars.

Taco Bell hotel. Here’s a look inside the pop-up Taco Bell hotel, which is taking over the V Palm Springs for this weekend only.

Salt cavern energy. Los Angeles hopes to store solar and wind power in underground salt caverns in rural Utah, to help replace a giant coal plant that will shut down in 2025.

Gilroy shooting. The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter’s target list has prompted the FBI to launch a domestic terrorism investigation. The probe comes as police try to determine a motive for the attack.

Orange and blue. Orange County, long a GOP stronghold, officially has more registered Democrats than Republicans.

Emoji house. A Manhattan Beach house painted bright pink with yellow emojis is the flash point of a dramatic ongoing feud between the homeowner and neighbors who say it’s a public nuisance.


Swamp rats. A nutria infestation in the Central Valley is threatening to damage levees and disrupt the state’s water supply. One congressman has declared war on the rodents.

Caught. Peter Chadwick, an Orange County multimillionaire charged in the slaying of his wife, was taken into custody Sunday after a years-long manhunt. Detectives say a true-crime podcast they made generated new interest in the case, which aided the search.

Look inside Amanda Hearst and Joachim Rønning’s stunning Hearst Castle wedding. Town & Country.

The biggest recycling store chain in California just closed its doors. Here’s why. Sacramento Bee.

These are the best “hippie towns” in the Bay Area and Northern California. SF Gate.

More than 1,000 public pensions in California are so big they exceed IRS limits. Sacramento Bee.

Had enough? Here’s how to fight the madness of mass shootings. Los Angeles Times.

ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

The saga of Adam Litwin, MD: He went to jail as a fake doctor. Now he’s a real one. Los Angeles Times.

Bird on Central Ave.: The night Charlie Parker soared in South Central L.A. Alta

Living in L.A., one Airbnb at a time: A new arrival explores the city through its neighborhoods and rental homes. Los Angeles Times

“Toni Morrison, the Art of Fiction”: A 1993 interview with the Paris Review. The Paris Review

Looking ahead

Saturday Recommendation: The Cayton Children’s Museum in Santa Monica

Hayley Alvarez, 7, and Nicholas Valladares, 6, play together in the ball pit at Cayton Children's Museum by ShareWell in Santa Monica.
(Los Angeles Times)

This week, editor Andre Vergara details how to have a family-friendly day in Santa Monica in the paper’s “Four Hours” column. Here is how Andre describes the Cayton Children’s Museum, a sprawling play place that recently relocated from downtown L.A. to the Promenade:

“Inside, your kids can dance in dinosaur and princess costumes and sing along with a hipster strumming songs about gratitude and love on a banjo. They can stop at stations to play with sand and water, sit for arts and crafts, even play on an American LaFrance fire engine. There’s a VCA-sponsored stuffed pet hospital and supermarket shelves stocked with play foods that kids can drop into their mini shopping carts. Bless them for being fascinated by everyday tasks we find mundane. And if the checkout line is too long, they can ditch their cart and jump in the ball pit. Why can’t Ralphs be like that? The museum stimulates physically, creatively and intellectually: A flipboard shuffles between letters, numbers and quotes from the likes of Confucius, Victor Hugo and Maria Montessori.”

The Cayton Children’s Museum is located at 395 Santa Monica Place, Suite 374 in Santa Monica. Admission is $14 per person and free for low-income EBT or WIC families in the museum’s first year of operation (subsidized admission after that).

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes. (And a giant thanks to the legendary Diya Chacko for all her help on the Saturday edition!)