A 37-year-old Huntington Beach man was in custody Tuesday on suspicion of killing two women in Westminster whose bodies were found in Newport Beach.
He is also suspected of possibly setting one of the women’s homes on fire.
Christopher Ireland was taken into custody by Westminster police and booked on two counts of murder in the deaths of Yolanda Holtrey, 59, and her 49-year-old friend, whose name was withheld pending notification of next of kin.
The bodies of the two women were found in a field in Newport Beach Monday morning prior to the arrest, according to authorities.
This drama began when Orange County Fire Authority firefighters responded to a fire at Holtrey’s home in the 5000 block of Northwestern Way on New Year’s Day.
The fire was reported at 5:21 a.m., according to OCFA Capt. Larry Kurtz.
“It took about 30 minutes to put out,” Kurtz said. “There is no confirmed cause for the fire yet, but it’s possibly arson.”
That’s a sentiment shared by Westminster police.
“It does seem to be connected to the murders,” Westminster police Corporal Alan Aoki told City News Service.
After the fire at the house was put out, authorities could not locate Holtrey, a fact that sparked the murder investigation and the grisly discovery of the two women’s bodies made this morning.
Ireland was arrested after he appeared at the fire scene. Aoki said his arrest came after detectives uncovered certain, unspecified evidence at the home that appeared to connect Ireland to the crimes. However, he said the motives for the fire and the subsequent murders is unclear at this point and remain under investigation.
Ireland, he said, has had no prior run-ins with law enforcement in Westminster.
Ireland is a licensed real estate agent working for Realty One Group, Inc. in Rancho Cucamonga with no disciplinary actions on his record, according to California real estate records. Ireland was first licensed as an agent this past August.
Media reports indicated that Ireland and his wife may have attended a New Year’s Eve party at Holtrey’s house. It’s unclear at this point what the relationship was between Ireland and the two murdered women. But Aoki said it didn’t appear that anyone else but Ireland was involved in these crimes.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department was assisting Westminster police in this investigation.
Ireland was currently being held in Orange County jail without bail, according to jail records. He is scheduled to head to court on Wednesday for his arraignment.
–City News Service
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