A 44-year-old man charged with killing two people inside a Newport Beach apartment last month may have been targeting a third person in Irvine, police allege in court documents.
Authorities say Jamon Rayon Buggs of Huntington Beach fatally shot Wendi Miller, 48, and Darren Partch, 38, inside Partch’s apartment on East 15th Street in Newport Beach early on the morning of April 20.
Partch’s roommate discovered their bodies in Partch’s bedroom the next day and called police. They had both been shot in the head, Sgt. William Depweg wrote in an affidavit that accompanied a request to search Buggs’ Huntington Beach apartment.
“I believe Buggs left [Partch’s apartment] and traveled to the City of Irvine to commit another violent crime,” Depweg wrote.
Buggs’ attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
About 11:30 p.m. — hours after authorities say Buggs killed Miller and Partch in Newport Beach — a woman in Irvine called police to report that a man, whom police later identified as Buggs, had been standing on her upstairs balcony looking into her condominium through the sliding glass door.
The door was open a few inches, so the woman hurried over to pull it closed when she saw the man. They made eye contact and the man climbed down the balcony, police said.
As he made his way down the side of the building, the woman heard a loud pop and saw the flash of what she thought was a gunshot. Authorities recovered a single bullet lodged in the eaves. Buggs later told detectives that the gun accidentally discharged as he climbed down and he wasn’t trying to harm the woman, police wrote in the affidavit.
Detectives said they spotted Buggs when he briefly returned to the Silk Tree neighborhood in Irvine the next day around 9:30 p.m. Authorities trailed him in his Chevrolet Camaro for several blocks before they attempted to pull him over near Harvard Avenue and Irvine Center Drive.
He refused to pull over and led authorities on a short pursuit through the city that ended when the Camaro crashed into a parked car on Birch Street. Buggs hopped over fences into several backyards and eventually walked into a home through a rear sliding glass door, police said. About an hour later, he surrendered to officers and was taken into custody, police said in the affidavit.
A .38-caliber revolver was found later in the area where Buggs was arrested. Authorities say he tried to ditch the gun as he ran from police.
Authorities hadn’t yet linked Buggs to the double homicide in Newport Beach when he was taken into custody in Irvine. A bullet from a .38-caliber handgun fired during the alleged burglary attempt in Irvine was a key piece of evidence allegedly tying Buggs to the killings, documents show. Records allegedly show it matched two bullets police found lodged in Partch’s bedroom wall.
Police have not released a possible motive in the double slaying. However, resident Esther Lau said a detective told her a man was at the Irvine complex looking for another man he thought had been involved with his ex-girlfriend.
“He was looking for someone with the same name as my boyfriend,” Lau said. “But he had a picture of what the guy looked like, and so I think when he looked in and saw the two Asian guys playing games, he knew it wasn’t the guy he was looking for and so he left.”
During an interview with police, authorities asked him if “he had climbed [the] balcony only to discover he had found the wrong person.”
“Yes, it was a mistake. It was a mistake,” Buggs responded, according to the document.
Buggs and his ex-girlfriend have been in the midst of a legal battle this year in which the two traded domestic violence allegations and sought restraining orders against each other. Documents filed in Orange County Superior Court over the course of four months detail the seemingly toxic relationship.
In January, the woman filed a restraining order alleging that Buggs had broken into her Huntington Beach home at 3:30 a.m. a month earlier, walked upstairs into her bedroom and demanded to know who she liked.
“I thought he was going to kill me,” she wrote.
Buggs responded by filing his own restraining order request. He disputed the allegations and said his former paramour had been sending a barrage of messages via text, social media and email despite his attempts to block her. He also accused her of pestering him to pay back money he owed and said she repeatedly used a racial epithet against him, according to the filing.
A judge granted the woman’s restraining order in February. Roughly a month later, the woman went to Newport Beach police to report that Buggs had impersonated an official with the Costa Mesa Police Department in conversations with the woman’s family and friends in an effort to get her phone number and address, according to court records.
The back-and-forth legal filings continued until April, records show.
Buggs is charged with two counts of murder, attempted burglary and possession of a firearm by a felon along with a possible sentencing enhancement on allegations that he was armed with a firearm in the commission of a felony. He has not entered a plea.
If convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. The special circumstance allegations make him eligible for the death penalty, but prosecutors have not decided whether to pursue it.