Over the weekend, the Isla Vista Foot Patrol responded to the discovery of a dead female body on the beach as well as an occurrence of shoplifting, among other minor incidents.
According IVFP Station Lieutenant Robert Plastino, deputies responded following a call by a cyclist at approximately 7:00 a.m. on Sunday to report a female body lying on the beach. Police and fire officials determined that the female was deceased and later identified the female as second-year junior and double major in language, culture and society and philosophy Sierra Markee-Winkler.
Plastino said police were able to determine the body as Markee-Winkler due to help from her roommate and forensic evidence.
“During an area canvas, IVFP was approached by a female subject, who observed us carrying the decedent from the beach and was concerned that it may have been her missing roommate,” Plastino said. “Using forensics and a lead provided by [Winkler’s] roommate, the decedent’s identity was verified.”
Plastino said investigation into the circumstances surrounding Markee-Winkler’s death are ongoing and that although a cause of death has not yet been determined, Markee-Winkler was missing the night before.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that Markee-Winkler was involved in an argument with one of her roommates at her residence,” Plastino said. “Markee-Winkler, who had been drinking and was upset, left the residence and headed toward the 6800 block of Del Playa.”
However, Plastino said that while Markee-Winkler was reported to be emotional when she left the scene, there was no sign of foul play and no one had followed her.
“[The] Sheriff’s, Coroner’s and forensic team are working to determine the cause of death,” Plastino said.
Until a full autopsy is completed, Plastino said, there are several possible causes of death, including a fall from the cliff. But Plastino said it is likely Markee-Winkler died from other causes due to her experience living in I.V. and the fact that her phone and sandals were found neatly placed behind the residence located at 6865 Del Playa.
“Initially, we were thinking she accidentally fell off, but then we realized this is not the typical fall from the cliff. Unlike other victims, who are usually out-of-towners or [freshmen], she was a junior and knew the area well,” Plastino said. “But there is nothing to indicate that she threw herself off on purpose.”
Plastino also said it was possible Markee-Winkler had gone down to the beach and fallen asleep on the sand when the waves were at low tide and was later unable to escape the high tide currents.
“Remember, it is pitch black down there at night and the water is freezing. In that water, she wouldn’t have lasted 15 minutes,” Plastino said. “We have a lot of questions that still need to be answered.”
Over the weekend, deputies also responded to a call on Saturday afternoon at approximately 1:05 p.m. from the Movement Ink store on 6556 Pardall Road. The store’s owner had detained an individual suspected of shoplifting.
“The owner of the store was standing inside the shop detaining [the suspect]. The shop owner signed a citizen’s arrest form and stated [the suspect] walked out of the store with a hat worth $40 concealed under his shirt,” Plastino said.
The owner confronted the suspect outside, Plastino said, which is when the suspect revealed the hat. After performing a background check on the suspect, officers discovered he had committed other acts of theft in the past.
“[The suspect] admitted to law enforcement that he hid the hat under his shirt,” Plastino said. “A record check showed [the suspect] had been arrested less than a month prior for shoplifting at 7-Eleven and was a person of interest in a residential burglary in 2013.”
The suspect was arrested and eventually released with a citation for theft.
A version of this story appeared on page 4 of Wednesday, May 7, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.