Body of missing L.A. County fire captain found in Santa Barbara County

Wayne Stuart Habell, 43.
(Via Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

The body of a Los Angeles County Fire Department captain who went missing earlier this week was found Saturday in Santa Barbara County, authorities said.

According to Los Angeles County Fire Department Battalion Chief Jason Robertson, family members identified the man as Wayne Stuart Habell, 43, who was last seen leaving his home in Newhall on Monday morning. He was allegedly on his way to the gym.

Four days later, Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle parked near the Hot Springs Canyon Trail in Montecito and discovered that the car was registered to Habell. According to Lt. Kevin Huddle of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and Rescue, passersby said the SUV had been there since Monday. Its occupant was last seen walking alone up the trailhead.

The authorities searched the area on Friday and resumed early Saturday morning. That evening, they discovered a man’s body in the canyon.


The sheriff’s department has opened an investigation into Habell’s death, Robertson said.


2:15 p.m.: This article was updated with new information from a Los Angeles County Fire Department offiicial.


10:10 a.m., Aug. 19: This article was updated with new information from Santa Barbara County officials and a statement by a Los Angeles County Fire Department official.

This article was originally posted at 10:50 p.m., Aug. 18.

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