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2 individuals found dead at Costa Mesa massage parlor, in a strip mall with a rocky past

The business complex at 440 Fair Drive, where two people were discovered dead at a massage parlor.
A business complex at 440 Fair Drive, in Costa Mesa, where two people were discovered dead at a massage parlor Saturday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Costa Mesa police are investigating the deaths of a man and woman whose bodies were discovered Saturday at a massage parlor inside a Fair Drive complex that’s been in the city’s crosshairs for years for ongoing illicit activities.

Costa Mesa Police spokeswoman Roxi Fyad confirmed officers were called to a location on the 400 block of Fair Drive after 8 p.m. June 5 and that two deceased individuals were discovered on the property. Further details on the incident were not being made public, pending toxicology reports and official causes of death from the Orange County coroner’s office, Fyad said Tuesday.

Erica Arellano, a supervising deputy coroner, identified the two deceased individuals as Lynne Charles Vanderwall, 51, of Irvine, and 39-year-old Baixue Ren, whose city of residence had not yet been established.

Whether or how the two decedents may have known each other remains unknown, but an online listing for Six Stars Massage in the city of Westminster lists Baixue Ren, of Santa Ana, as the business agent.

Arellano said Ren and Vanderwall are thought to have both died sometime around midnight that Saturday night, roughly eight hours before their bodies were discovered. They were found at Lucky Spa, a massage parlor operating in a unit at 440 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa.

The address is well known to city officials, who have taken a series of legal actions against property owner Dennis D’Alessio and a string of itinerant tenants operating illegal marijuana dispensaries as well as massage parlors, where undercover police operations have turned up evidence of prostitution, according to one complaint filed by the city.

“This has been a problem site for, gosh, 10 years or more,” said former Mayor Katrina Foley, now a county supervisor. “The police have done so many undercover investigations at that site — there are multiple legal actions. I’m also concerned about human trafficking [that might be going on there].”

Costa Mesa City Atty. Kimberly Hall Barlow confirmed by email Thursday officials have been engaged in an ongoing legal battle over activities at the property for years and, on April 23, obtained a preliminary injunction against multiple dispensaries operating there.

“The city has been in litigation relating to this property at various times for illegal activities, including dispensaries and massage businesses, since at least 2011,” Hall Barlow wrote, describing administrative and criminal citations dating back to 2004.

In an 89-page lawsuit filed on April 20, 2011, attorneys representing the city declared seven massage businesses and three marijuana dispensaries operating at the site public nuisances and sought a court-ordered injunction to have them temporarily or permanently shut down.

Florentino Contreras Bacilio and Angel Lopezevaristo were charged with kidnapping to commit rape and sodomy, and two counts of sexual penetration by foreign object.

The document provided details on multiple undercover operations conducted by members of Costa Mesa police’s special enforcement detail from July 2010 through February 2011. Officers visited the massage parlors posing as customers and were offered sex acts in exchange for money on multiple occasions by practitioners at all businesses.

“During separate undercover operations at the seven massage establishments, officers received agreements to engage in prostitution,” the document reads. “Several criminal violations were observed at each location.”

In addition to repeated offers of “happy endings” — a term referring to stimulation of a customer’s genitals at the end of a massage, usually for a fee — officers noted improperly attired and sometimes topless masseuses, practitioners using multiple, and often rotating, aliases, doors with locking mechanisms and businesses without a manager on site, among many other violations.

Hall Barlow said Thursday all the massage businesses at the site have “been under investigation for some time” but added the nature of those investigations could not be disclosed. She said one person identified as a manager was arrested on Dec. 30 and that other citations may have been issued to that same individual or at the same address.

Calls made to D’Alessio and a Newport Beach branch of Nevada-based property management company D’Alessio Investments, LLC requesting comment were not immediately returned Friday.

Foley said, following the news of the recent deaths on the property, she planned to reach out to the district attorney’s office.

“We have to get somebody to do something,” she said. “I don’t know how long this has to go on before some agency does something.”

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