Follow-up files

The latest scoop on stories we’re working on

by , and



All too often too many news stories make headlines and then disappear, unless some event brings them back into the limelight. Most stories have tales to tell while they await a hopeful conclusion.  We have gathered several major and minor stories we have reported on within the last year and wanted to bring them as up to date as we possibly could.
Another autopsy review

It has been more than a year since the body of Bill King, 41, was found on the remnants of his partially burned mattress in a hidden encampment near the intersection of Los Osos Valley Road and Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo. His arms were crossed in a defensive fashion over his face and his tongue protruded from his ash-covered lips.

King’s body was discovered on March 12, 2005, by his close

  • Courtesy: King Family
# friend and campmate Daryl Owens. How King died remains a mystery, and due to the handling of the body, a questionable autopsy, and the lack of a timely investigation, we may never know. The SLO County Coroners Office initially reported that King burned to death after passing out on his mattress while smoking a cigarette. They changed the official cause of death to ‘undetermined’ after it was confirmed that King died prior to the fire and that the toxicology report listed only a trace amount of alcohol and no drugs in King’s system.

San Luis Obispo police never declared the area a potential crime scene, mishandled the body, and failed to inform the coroner’s office immediately after discovery of the body, a violation of California code. “Law enforcement has a duty to inform the coroner,� said Undersheriff Steve Bolts in an earlier interview. “It is the responsibility of the first responders to contain the scene. We prefer an uncontaminated scene.� Within weeks of the discovery of King’s body, SLO police changed their procedures due to a request from the coroner’s office, Bolts added.

On Sept. 1, 2005, the coroner’s office terminated pathologist Dr, Fred Walker, who according to numerous reports was not entirely competent during the end of his employment with the county. “He sometimes jumped to conclusions that we had to point out didn’t make sense,� Bolts said, “Then he would come back with a more descriptive, logical conclusion.�

In Feb. 2006, the coroner’s office brought in a second pathologist to review King’s autopsy report. And currently they are waiting on an entomologist report on maggots that were present in Kings body. An earlier study of the maggots by Robert Kinsey, a forensic specialist on time of death from at UC Davis, determined that King was dead from a day and a half to two days before his body was discovered. “We will change the certificate accordingly, hopefully soon,� Bolt said.

The San Luis Obispo Police department has closed their investigation of King's death, though any new findings by the coroner’s office could reopen the investigation.
Word on the street is… 

Last July, Sharon Ostman’s battered body was found partially

  • Courtesy: Ostman Family
# submerged in San Luis Obispo Creek near the Mission. She had been sexually assaulted, savagely beaten, and murdered. Ostman was homeless, and for the last 20 years of her life, was a well-known figure wandering the streets of San Luis Obispo. The Ostman homicide hasn’t been an easy one for SLO police to solve. For one thing, a majority of the clues have come from the streets, a source where information is often considered dubious and unreliable. The trail for clues has led local police to several western states including Oregon, where New Times recently discovered in our on-going investigation spearheaded by reporter Karen Velie that a confession right after the killing was reportedly made in a homeless encampment near Albany by a man identified as Hippy G. Another man who may be involved in Ostman’s murder has been identified as Roger. Police have confirmed that the two individuals, both meth addicts, are ‘persons of interest.’ As we go to press, neither is in custody.

According to Eddie Simmers, the last person to see Ostman alive, and the many other people New Times has questioned, Ostman was murdered for the large amount of cash she had from a disability check.

With the investigation still on going, police have yet to release specific details as to how Ostman was murdered, perhaps hoping that a confession might ultimately match up with the evidence and lead to an arrest. As of today, police have no major suspects in the case.

On the loose…again

Anthony Francis Dacayana, four-time convicted rapist, a man described as a sexual deviant and remorseless predator, and the subject of a New Times cover story last November, is nowhere to

  • Courtesy: SLO County Sheriff’s Dept.
# be found, even though his picture on the Megan’s law internet data base shows he last registered as a sex offender in Ventura County at the beginning of the year. But his address is not listed. Sex offenders are legally required to register with local law enforcement agencies at least every 90 days and within five days of moving, becoming a transient or having a birthday.

As recently reported in New Times, Ventura County District Attorney David Lehr noted that in accordance with Megan’s Law, the public has Internet access to detailed information about sex offenders, including places of residence. But he added the database isn’t always up to date.

Dacayana was convicted of four rapes, including those of a blind woman who was his friend, as well as his 13-year-old stepsister. He is described as an extremely charming man, but he was diagnosed with paraphilia, defined as one of several complex psychiatric disorders that are manifested as deviant sexual behavior. He was also deemed a sexually violent predator in accord with the Sexually Violent Predator Act, and committed to the Atascadero State Hospital after his release from prison in 1996. Last June, at a trial to determine if he would remain a sexually violent predator, a jury decided that Dacayana was no longer an SVP. He was re-examined every two years after his committal in 1996 and was kept behind bars by various juries each time. Most authorities believe Dacayana will offend again.

Not in vain

No changes in the operational status of the Bureau of Land Management overseeing the Carrizo Plains have been reported since the tragic death of Marlene Braun, the former Carrizo Plain National Monument manager who committed suicide last May following a tumultuous year with her BLM supervisor Ron Huntsinger. Braun, who was profiled in the Nov. 17-24 New Times story “To die on the plain,� was appointed manager of the plains soon after President Clinton made the area a national monument in 2001. At the southeastern corner of SLO County, the 250,000-acre Carrizo Plain contains the greatest concentration of endangered wildlife in all of California. Braun was reportedly working on plans to preserve the plains when Huntsinger became her supervisor and started to change the direction of her

  • Courtesy: Nick Koury
# proposed policies. According to Braun’s friends, the rift between the two got so great it prompted the taking of her own life.

Since then, the Department of the Interior has been investigating events surrounding the suicide (although results of that query have not been forthcoming as of yet); group of environmental organizations have asked the BLM to consider completing a more comprehensive environmental study of the monument; and Braun was honored by the Sierra Club and commended for opening “a new chapter in the cooperative management of the area by the Bureau of Land Management, The Nature Conservancy, and the California Department of Fish and Game. She embraced, nourished, and encouraged the partnership and reached out to a broad spectrum of the public.�

As of this date, Huntsinger continues to oversee the operation of the plains from BLM offices in Bakersfield.

Worse off than ever

It was shortly after 10:30 in the morning on Monday May 8 when a 22-year-old Cuesta College student dressed in a T-shirt and jeans jumped feet first from the top floor of the Marsh Street Parking Garage. She landed on Chorro Street in front of Copeland’s Sport Store, blood seeping from her mouth and convulsing in pain. Both of her ankles were crushed; numerous bones including her legs, pelvis, and arm broke on impact. She remains in the intensive care ward at Sierra Vista Hospital. “There was significant stuff going on with her,� says San Luis Obispo Police Captain Dan Blanke. “A lot of baggage drove her to it, though now, it’s a worse situation than it was before.�

Well suited

Jarek Molski, the man who more than 400 California restaurants, wineries, and motels for alleged Americans with Disabilities Act violations and as a result was labeled a vexatious litigant, and banned from filing any federal lawsuits without court approval, has turned around and began filing suits in state court.

  • Courtesy: KKAL News

# “We are still in litigation because he has now filed in state court,� says Kerry Vix General Manager and partner at EOS Estate Winery in Paso Robles. “The case is pending a decision by a state court judge. We are not giving in. Here you have someone taking advantage of a loophole in a law, and taking advantage of businesses on the central coast.�

Other local businesses being sued by Molski have either settled or in the case of some, have counter-sued and are waiting word on their case in court as well.

During the summer of 2003, Molski filed his first lawsuit against a San Luis Obispo business, claiming he suffered mental emotional, and physical harm because the facility did not meet access guidelines set by the Americans with Disability Act of 1990. By the end of 2005, Molski filed suit against nearly 95 businesses between Santa Ynez and Paso Robles.

In 1988 Molski, 35, was injured in a motorcycle accident. He sued the truck driver for between $4.4 million and $5.5 million. The suit was settled out of court and was the first of over 400 lawsuits Molski has filed.

He has sued random business throughout California for alleged inadequate handicapped access. Unable to afford the cost of lengthy litigation, most of them settled with Molski for between $5,000 and $40,000. “We offered a settlement early on, but it was not excepted,� Vix says. “What they wanted us to settle on was significantly higher.� Molski has a law degree, but has never practiced as an attorney.

All in good time

Charles Clark is considered violent and unpredictable, and should

  • Courtesy: SLO County Sheriff’s Dept.
# still be in jail, but as of May 25 he is back on the streets of San Luis Obispo a free man. Clark served only four full months of a six-month sentence he received for a random and vicious attack on SLO County employee David Siebert in broad daylight earlier this year.

Shortly after noon on Jan. 26, Siebert was strolling down the 500 block of Higuera Street not far from the New Times building, when Clark along with his accomplice Andrew Mitchell, 19, struck Siebert in the side with a skateboard and swung a two-foot hitching chain with a nine-inch square piece of metal attached to one end at Siebert’s head. Fortunately, Siebert turned around in time to block the blow with his forearm.  After an unknown citizen ran across Higuera to assist Siebert, Mitchell and Clark fled the scene laughing.

“This just wasn’t some gag,� Siebert said at the time. “These guys were yelling ‘beat his ass’ and ‘gang bang’. They were having fun. They were yelling. It was like a rodeo.�

While serving time in jail for the assault, Clark continued to display violent tendencies. Sporting a Mohawk, he attacked inmate Donald Woods, 50, for what witnesses say was no apparent reason. Clark spit in Woods face, bit his shoulder and left him with two black eyes. Due to his anti-social behavior, jailers were forced to change his housing designation six times. 

Following Clark’s jail cell assault on Woods, a SLO County Sheriff’s deputy sent pictures of the Wood’s injuries and statements of distressed cellmates to the SLO County District Attorney’s Office. Clark faced an additional three years in state prison if found guilty of assaulting Woods and breaking probation.

However, filing deputy Jerret Gran reviewed then rejected the case due to what he said was a lack of witnesses, even though two uninvolved cellmates claim Clark started the fight. “Woods asked Clark to leave him alone, but Clark spit in his face and started hitting him,� said Bradley Fox, an inmate who witnessed the attack. “He said he liked messing people up.�

When New Times asked San Luis Obispo County Sheriff corrections Lt. Barry Shottz why Clark was released early, his reply was he did good time. (just before we went to print, Clark was arrested for being drunk in public and is back in jail)

Another roadblock for Sunny Acres

A project by local landowner Dan De Vaul to transform his Los Osos Valley ranch property into a facility for recovering alcoholics and addicts continues to languish before county government, but he hopes a few aspiring architects might, again, soon help change that. At the beginning of this academic year, De Vaul recruited the services of an interdepartmental collaboration of Cal Poly classes to draft a master land-use plan for Sunny Acres, a sober living facility.

The projects drew strong reviews at the December unveiling but

  • Photo by Christopher Gardner
# failed to present a workable solution to the Sunny Acres expansion due to certain filing requirements. This time around, the class aims to formulate a master plan designed submit to the county, rather than city, of San Luis Obispo. Classes from the Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Construction Management departments split into ten teams aiming for a once-and-for-all solution for the controversial project. The new batch goes before a panel of judges Monday and Tuesday morning at Architecture West from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

However, while the students hunt for solutions, De Vaul faces a challenge of his own. In order to get the building permit to lay the foundations for the future of Sunny Acres, he must first acquire a conditional use permit from the planning commission. So far, he says, the communication has proved less than promising.

The sober living director originally offered amnesty to 73 recovering alcoholics and addicts, but most were forced out when the county found the property grossly in violation of code. In the wake of the Sunny Acres shutdown, De Vaul hired a lawyer for a point-by-point analysis of the various code complaints in a wide scale cleanup of the property. Working with contract architects, he labored over various solutions, but met a different roadblock each time. Eventually, he managed to present a 7,200-square-foot expansion on the existing Victorian farmhouse. The county responded by calling for the conditional use permit, which De Vaul reports is a “very complicated matter.�

“You would think that since we’re footing the bill for something that’s providing a public service, that the county would be a little more receptive,� he complains. “It seems like we’ve found a way to do it every time and the county could accept it, but instead they say, ‘here’s another hoop to jump through.’�

The county planning office declined to comment on the status of the project for the simple reason that De Vaul hasn’t yet officially filed for the conditional use permit. A meeting with the planning commission, scheduled for June 16, was postponed indefinitely until the paperwork is in. The planning office certainly expects it sometime early this summer. De Vaul claims he’ll be ready to file soon after the Cal Poly unveiling.

“Right now, everything is hinging on that permit,� he says. ∆



Add a comment