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Search warrants reveal new details in Newport Beach double-murder case

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Jamon Rayon Buggs is charged with two counts of special-circumstances murder in the deaths of Wendi Miller of Costa Mesa and Darren Partch of Newport Beach.
(File Photo)

Newly released search warrants shed light on how a Huntington Beach man became linked to two killings in Newport Beach.

A bullet fired during an alleged burglary attempt in Irvine the same weekend would be key in tying Jaymon Rayon Buggs to the killings, according to the documents. Records showed it matched bullets found in the upstairs bedroom of a condominium where the bodies of Darren Partch and Wendi Miller were found.

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Buggs, a 44-year-old personal trainer, has been charged with two counts of special-circumstances murder in the deaths of Partch, 38, and Miller, 48. He is being held in Orange County’s Theo Lacy jail without bail.

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In a court appearance Monday, Buggs did not enter a plea. His attorney, Gabriela Ramirez of the county public defender’s office, did not respond to a request for comment.

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Partch and Miller reportedly were last seen leaving a Laguna Beach bar at about 1:45 a.m. April 20 as Miller, of Costa Mesa, gave Partch a ride home to the condominium in the 2100 block of East 15th Street in Newport Beach.

The two were found dead at about 9:30 p.m. April 21 when Partch’s roommate arrived home after a few days away, the Newport Beach Police Department said. Both had suffered fatal gunshot wounds, police said. Authorities believe they died April 20.

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In a warrant to search Buggs’ Huntington Beach apartment, Newport Beach police Sgt. William Depweg wrote, “I believe Buggs left [Partch’s residence] and traveled to the city of Irvine to commit another violent crime.”

Buggs was arrested in the Newport Beach case on April 25, but he was already in custody after being arrested three days earlier by Irvine police on suspicion of a pair of attempted burglaries there.

The first occurred about 11:35 p.m. April 20, according to the Irvine Police Department.

Resident Esther Lau said a detective told her a man was there 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.”

A resident saw the man on a balcony, and the would-be burglar fired a single round from a gun, police said. A bullet was found lodged outside the home.

The second case occurred about 5 a.m. April 21 but was reported that afternoon, police said. 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.

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Police investigating the two incidents saw a suspicious vehicle at about 12:15 a.m. April 22, 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.

According to a search warrant filed by Irvine police, Buggs said in an interview after his arrest in the burglary cases that he had climbed the balcony only to discover he had found the wrong person. He said the gun “accidentally went off” as he was climbing down, according to the document.

Buggs pleaded not guilty to multiple felony counts in connection with the burglary cases, according to court records.

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