Man suspected of 2 Newport Beach killings will be charged with double murder

Jamon Rayon Buggs was arrested Thursday on suspicion of killing Wendi Miller of Costa Mesa and Darren Partch of Newport Beach. Their bodies were found Sunday night in Partch’s residence.
(Courtesy of Newport Beach Police Department)

The suspect in the fatal shooting of a man and a woman whose bodies were found in a Newport Beach condominium this week will be charged with multiple felonies, including two counts of murder with a special-circumstance allegation of multiple murders, prosecutors said.

Charges will be filed against Jamon Rayon Buggs, 44, in connection with the deaths of Darren Partch, 38, and Wendi Miller, 48, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday. Buggs also will face one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, one count of attempted first-degree burglary and a sentencing enhancement allegation of personal discharge of a firearm causing death, prosecutors said.

Buggs, a Huntington Beach personal trainer, was arrested Thursday in connection with the slayings. He was already being held at Orange County Jail after being arrested Monday by Irvine police on suspicion of a pair of attempted burglaries there last weekend.

The first alleged burglary attempt occurred about 11:35 p.m. Saturday and was interrupted by a resident, according to the Irvine Police Department. The would-be burglar fired a single round from a gun, and a bullet was found lodged outside the home, police said.

The second case occurred about 5 a.m. Sunday but was not reported until that afternoon. The homeowner reviewed surveillance video and saw that someone had tried to open the front door, but no entry was made and the would-be burglar ran away, police said.

Partch and Miller were found dead last Sunday night inside Partch’s residence in the 2100 block of East 15th Street when Partch’s roommate arrived home after a few days away, Newport Beach police said.

Police investigating the two incidents saw a suspicious vehicle about 12:15 a.m. Monday, authorities said. Officers tried to stop the vehicle and a short pursuit followed. The driver crashed the vehicle and ran into a nearby backyard, police said. The driver then broke into an unoccupied home and was there for hours before he ran out about 4 a.m., police said.The suspect taken into custody was later identified as Buggs.

He pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges related to the attempted burglaries, including one felony count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one felony count of reckless driving while evading a police officer and a misdemeanor count of hit-and-run with property damage, according to court records.

Buggs’ bail was set at $1 million. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in the homicide case.

He has a prior conviction for an assault on a police officer in San Diego County in 1995, the district attorney’s office said.

Miller, a mother of two, was last seen around 1:45 a.m. Saturday after going to a Laguna Beach bar, according to friends who launched an awareness campaign on social media after she went missing. Friends said she was going to give Partch a ride home since the two lived a few blocks from each other.

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.

Partch worked in Irvine as an account executive, according to his LinkedIn profile, and was a former hockey player. He last played for the San Diego Gulls in the East Coast Hockey League in the 2005-06 season.

Their slayings brought the number of homicide deaths in Newport Beach to five since the beginning of the year. A man was charged with murdering his parents and their housekeeper at the parents’ home in February.

The hourlong service, which is open to the public, will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Harbor Lawn-Mt. Olive Memorial Park & Mortuary, 1625 Gisler Ave. Visitation is scheduled between 4:30 and 8:30 p.m.

A celebration of life for Miller is scheduled for 2 p.m. May 3 at Mariners Church, 5001 Newport Coast Drive, Irvine.

A GoFundMe campaign has been established by Miller’s family for the celebration of life. It had raised $12,545 as of Friday evening.