Advertisement
California

She offered him a ride, then they died together. A double homicide mystery in O.C.

la-1556046837-wgn3t1loyy-snap-image
Wendi Miller, 48, and Darren Partch, 38, are seen in photos provided by friends. Their bodies were found Sunday night in Partch’s residence in Newport Beach.
(KTLA)

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 in 2005-’06 in the East Coast Hockey League. More recently, he worked as an account executive for a marketing company, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

“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 was 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 — a claim a person with knowledge of the situation said was “unfounded” in an email to the Daily Pilot. 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.

Sclafani writes for Times Community News.

hannah.fry@latimes.com | Twitter: @Hannahnfry

julia.sclafani@latimes.com | Twitter: @julia_sclafani

Advertisement


Advertisement