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Huntington Beach real estate agent charged in New Year’s Day double slaying

A real estate agent was charged with arson and murder Wednesday in connection with the slayings of two women and a house fire in Westminster on New Year’s Day, according to court records.

Christopher Ken Ireland, 37, faces two counts of murder and one count of arson, according to an Orange County Superior Court criminal complaint. He is also charged with one count of aggravated mayhem for “intentionally and unlawfully [causing] permanent disability, disfigurement, and deprivation of a limb, organ and body member” of one of the victims, according to the complaint.

Westminster police have released few details about killings, which they said occurred sometime Sunday.

Firefighters were called at about 5:30 a.m. to put out a fire at a home in the 5000 block of Northwestern Way in Westminster, police said.

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But the homeowner, Yolanda Holtrey, and her friend, Michelle Luke, were nowhere to be found.

Police said the fire was suspicious, so an arson investigator and detectives were asked to look into the case to determine what happened.

The next day, police found Holtrey and Luke’s bodies in a field off Bonita Canyon Drive and Ford Road in Newport Beach, according to the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner’s Division.

Investigators found neighborhood surveillance video that led them to Ireland, KNBC-TV reported. He was arrested after he and his wife showed up at Holtrey’s home offering to help, the television news station reported.

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The couple had gone to a party at Holtrey’s home on New Year’s Eve.

His wife, Samantha Ireland, told KNBC-TV that they went home after the party and she didn’t recall him leaving. She said she thinks her husband was sleep walking.

Ireland is a real estate agent who worked at Realty ONE Group and was going to help Holtrey sell her home, she told the news station.

“I don’t know any realtors that would kill their clients,” Samantha Ireland told KNBC-TV. “That’s stupid -- why would he do that?”

A relative of Holtrey told KTLA-TV that Ireland’s wife worked with Holtrey at a department store, the relative said.

Although Ireland’s wife knew Holtrey, the defendant hadn’t met the victims before that evening, the relative told television news station.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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