A 44-year-old ex-con — already facing charges related to a rash of attempted break-ins in Irvine, was booked Thursday on suspicion of killing a man and woman in a Newport Beach apartment, police said.
Jamon Rayon Buggs, a personal trainer who lives in Huntington Beach, is being held on $1 million bail related to the attempted burglaries, including one in which he is accused of opening fire on a resident who interrupted the break-in.
Buggs is accused of killing 48-year-old Wendi Sue Miller of Costa Mesa and 38-year-old Darren Donald Partch of Newport Beach. The two were found in Partch’s residence at Villa Siena, the Orange County coroner’s office reported.
Miller was last seen in Laguna Beach over the weekend. Her family contacted Costa Mesa police when they could not reach her. The bodies were discovered about 9:30 p.m. Sunday in the residence on the 2100 block of East 15th Street near Irvine Avenue, the Newport Beach Police Department reported.
Police would not release further details of why investigators suspect Buggs of the double murder, according to the department’s Heather Rangel.
On Monday, police assured the public there was no danger, but did not indicate why. It could be because Buggs was already in custody after Irvine police arrested him early that day.
Buggs is charged with attempted burglary of an inhabited dwelling, discharge of a gun at an inhabited dwelling, possession of a firearm by a felon, and leading police on a chase, all felonies, as well as a misdemeanor count of hit-and-run with property damage and a sentencing enhancement allegation of being armed with a gun in the commission of a felony.
The initial attempted break-in occurred about 11:35 p.m. last Saturday, but the burglar ran off when a resident who heard the intrusion on a second-story balcony made eye contact with the suspect, according to Irvine Police Lt. Dave Klug. While fleeing, Buggs allegedly fired a bullet into the residence.
Another attempted break-in happened about 5 a.m. Sunday. Surveillance video shows the man leaving when he failed to open the front door, Klug said.
Both burglary attempts happened in the vicinity of Harvard Avenue and Barranca Parkway, police said.
About 12:15 a.m. Monday, Irvine police patrolling in the area of the break-ins saw a suspicious vehicle and attempted to pull over the driver, who refused and led officers on a short chase, Klug said. Buggs bailed from the car and ran off following a minor collision with a parked car, Klug said.
The suspect then allegedly broke into an unoccupied residence and was taken into custody about 4 a.m. when he tried to run from the home, the lieutenant said.
Buggs pleaded guilty to felony vandalism and possession of a firearm by a felon, both felonies, as well as taking property from another and brandishing a firearm, both misdemeanors, in September of 1996, according to court records. He was sentenced to 32 months in state prison, according to court records.
Rangel said a man came home to Villa Siena and found his roommate and a woman he didn’t know dead.
Miller’s son, Luke Carpenter, posted on Facebook that his mother had been shot to death and added that the family was told “she did not suffer.”
Carpenter thanked his friends “for all the prayers” and added, “please don’t stop because I feel our family needs them even more now.”
Miller was the chief executive of the nonprofit organization Wings for Justice, which aims to “protect children in the family court system by creating awareness, providing education, and advocating to bring positive change,” according to the organization’s website.
Miller’s “career includes over 25 years as a national speaker and 12 years with a psychological practice specializing in abuse and domestic violence counseling, and support groups for women and children,” according to Wings for Justice.
Miller was a licensed psychologist in California and Michigan where she counseled children, individuals, couples and families. “During the last several years of Wendi’s practice, she specialized in treating victims of domestic violence and abuse,” according to the nonprofit’s site.
She wrote two books, “Betrayed Vows,” and the “Care Point Training Manual for Facilitators of Support Groups,” according to the organization.
Miller and her children “experienced severe injustice in the family court system and her children are left unprotected along with thousands of others across the country,” according to the website’s biography of Miller.
Miller received a master’s degree in counseling from Hope International University in Fullerton, where she also taught undergraduate classes, according to Wings for Justice. She received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.
Partch was a minor league hockey player who played for the San Diego Gulls in 2005-06.