Crime

Lompoc woman arrested on suspicion of murdering 74-year-old neighbor

Lompoc woman arrested on suspicion of murdering 74-year-old neighbor

LOMPOC, Calif. - A 35-year-old woman was arrested Monday afternoon, accused of murdering her 74-year-old neighbor.

The new development comes just days after police say a missing woman's body was found in Melissa Martin's apartment.

This is now the fourth homicide investigation for the Lompoc Police Department since March.

There's still a lot of unanswered questions. We still don't know the cause or motive behind Eldri Jauch's death.

However, we do know that she at one time trained to be a victim advocate and wasn't afraid to stand up for others.

As the community mourns the loss of Eldri Jauch, friends say the one thing that really sticks out about the 74-year-old was her voice.

"She spoke up for the underdog," said Ann McCarty, Executive Director of the North County Rape Crisis Center. 

Lompoc police say Jauch's neighbor, 35-year-old Melissa Martin silenced that voice.

After a witness came forward with updated information, detectives say Jauch was found dead in Martin's apartment late Saturday night and they immediately began tracking their suspect into the Santa Ynez area. 

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office helped establish surveillance and when Martin stepped outside a Santa Ynez residence Monday around 4:00 p.m. she was arrested and booked on a murder charge.

"We need to come together as a community to make several statements. First of all that we're sad, we need to band together and be together at this time but we also need to send a message that violence like this is not acceptable in our community and we won't stand for it," said McCarty. 

Initial reports said Jauch was last seen around 11:00 a.m. June 4th but we know she attended a Lompoc City Council meeting that same night to receive a proclamation.

In the meeting footage, you can see her standing in the back row near the podium wearing a blue shirt and a light colored vest, this may be the last time she was seen alive. 

Her friends say she left City Hall that night on her bike. The 74-year-old was reported missing by her sister on Thursday. 

"We've lost a good friend to our community, we've lost a strong advocate and a strong activist," said McCarty. 

While authorities keep information close to vest, they emphasize that the homicide is not being investigated as a hate crime.

The North County Rape Crisis Center is organizing a Saturday candlelight vigil in Lompoc's Centennial Square to honor Jauch. McCarty says she deserves at least that. People will gather at the corner of South H Street and East Cypress Avenue at 7:00 p.m.

"We are a strong community, we honor Eldri but no more violence," said McCarty.


(Initial Story)

Lompoc police have arrested Melissa Martin on suspicion of murder. 

74-year-old Eldri Jauch was reported missing last week. 

Police say on Saturday they received information that helped them locate Jauch. They say she was found dead in an apartment belonging to Melissa Martin. 

Detectives found Martin in the Buellton/Santa Ynez area. 

Around 4 p.m. Monday, Martin stepped out of her residence and was taken into custody, police said. 

She was taken to the Lompoc Police Department and booked on the charge of murder. 


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