June 3 – Santa Barbara County
When a 911 Emergency dispatch operator sent Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies to a quiet residential area just north of the famed La Purisima Mission following a late night 911 hangup call, responding units discovered Asta Marie Elliott, 64, dead in the home.
According to SBSD Central Stations Bureau spokesman Lt. Brad McVay, Elliott “had stab wounds obviously inflicted by someone else.”
California Highway Patrol deputies, along with Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s units from Lompoc, Santa Ynez, and Goleta all responded to the scene and “secured a perimeter to search for any suspects, along with two K-9 units,” McVay said. According to Drew Sugars, SBSD Public Information Officer at Goleta Headquarters, a helicopter search was called off due to heavy ground fog in the area.
With the search promptly under way, an early morning Reverse 911 call was made to all area residents to warn of a possible murder suspect, and to instruct the public to remain inside their homes. “That call went out just after 3:00 a.m. as a precautionary measure,” Sugars reported, indicating that the initial search proved fruitless.
The search continued well into daylight, and at approximately 9:40 a.m. Lompoc Police officers spotted Phillip Joseph Johnson, 23, and detained him for questioning. When it was established that both Johnson and his grandmother – who was under the care of the victim – reside in the home where the homicide occurred, Johnson was taken into custody and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on murder charges, where he remains in custody on $1,000,000 bail.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail booking
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