Eight suspects have been arrested in connection with the videotaped kidnapping and assault of a male 19-year-old UCSB freshman during a party on September 15, 2000 at an apartment on the 6600 block of Trigo Road.
The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. began the investigation after an anonymous source gave a copy of the videotape to an officer at the Isla Vista Foot Patrol station on June 4, and the IVFP turned the video over to the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit.
On June 8, suspects Matthew Blessing, Patrick Mueller, Charles Anderson and David Rhodes were arrested in I.V. Sheriff’s Dept. Lieutenant Jim Peterson said Blessing, Mueller and Anderson lived in the Trigo Road apartment, and Rhodes is a San Diego resident who was visiting at the time of the incident.
“On Tuesday, June 12 … the suspect Scott James Carter, 19 years old, was arrested during a vehicle stop after he left his residence in Lompoc, California,” Peterson said. “During the time of the assault, Carter was a resident of Isla Vista, however not at the Trigo Road address – he was not a student.”
Poway resident Adam DeLaFuente was arrested in San Diego on June 20. Gregg Singer, a San Diego resident, was re-arrested at the San Diego County Jail, where he is in custody for unrelated charges. Peterson said the eighth suspect, Joshua Burns, turned himself in to the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. on June 19 upon the advice of his father.
The suspects were all charged with kidnapping, administering alcohol or drugs to commit a felony, battery with serious injury and sexual battery; bail was initially set at $100,000 for each suspect. The victim’s name will not be released because he is the victim of an alleged sex crime.
Peterson said the sexual battery charges do not have to involve rape. “Penetration doesn’t necessarily have to be involved for the crime to be sexual battery,” he said.
On June 13, Mueller, Blessing, Rhodes, and Anderson pleaded not guilty to all charges. Mueller was released on bail after the amount was reduced to $25,000. Carter pleaded not guilty on June 14, and on June 22 Burns pleaded not guilty to his charges. Blessing, Anderson, Mueller, Carter and Rhodes are currently free on bail. The Daily Nexus could not obtain the pleas and statuses of DeLaFuente and Singer at press time.
IVFP Lieutenant Russ Birchim said the victim did not appear to know the suspects prior to the incident.
“I’m not sure what the relationship between the suspects was, but they did not know the victim. [The victim] wandered in to this apartment and had already been drinking before he arrived to the house,” Birchim said.
According to Peterson, the videotape shows the suspects “holding the victim up” and force-feeding shots of alcohol and beer to the victim until he becomes unconscious and unable to stand on his own. The suspects proceeded to write with a marker on the victim’s face, chest, arms and lower body, and painted the victim’s face, mouth and genitals with whiteout, Peterson said.
“The unconscious victim was [then] dragged to an exterior enclosed laundry room and left in a lying position, flat on his stomach with his face flat down in a pillow,” he said. “While in the laundry room, the victim was disrobed of all of his clothing [and] urinated on.”
Peterson said the video then shows a hose and a crutch “placed against the victim’s buttocks” while the victim was displayed to people attending the party. The suspects carried the victim outside and laid him on a couch located in the parking lot of the apartment complex.
“The suspects posed with and apparently took still photographs of the unconscious victim,” Peterson said. “The couch containing the victim was moved to the middle of the street. Then food, beer and trash items were poured and thrown onto the victim while he was unconscious on the couch.”
On September 16, 2000 at 4 a.m., Isla Vista Foot Patrol deputies found the victim passed out on the couch, Peterson said. He was transported to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital and treated for an alcohol overdose. The Sheriff’s Dept. attempted an investigation, but due to his high level of intoxication, the suspect had no recollection of the events that occurred.
Mark Chaconas, assistant to Third District Supervisor Gail Marshall, said that this incident was not indicative of Isla Vista as a town.
“You need to look at [previous years IVFP crime] figures – the arrest statistics have been flat or going down for serious part one crimes, and assault have been static,” he said. “I’m not going to say it’s at all symptomatic of a greater problem.”