Darren Partch, a former pro-hockey player, and Wendi Miller, the prominent CEO of a non-profit that is dedicated to preventing violence against children, were both found dead inside an apartment in Newport Beach. The bodies were discovered on April 21 inside the Villa Siena Complex. Various reports have referred to Partch, 38, and Miller, 48, as “friends.”
Miller spent most of her life in advocacy for various groups including victims of domestic abuse and veterans. Miller was the CEO of Wings for Justice. The organization is based in Newport Beach.
The pair were last seen together leaving the Sandpiper Bar in Laguna Beach together on April 20. Their bodies were discovered by Partch’s roommate. He told authorities that he did not recognize Miller. Police have said that they are still looking for a suspect and a motive in the deaths. There was no sign of forced entry into the apartment.
Jamon Buggs was charged April 25 with two counts of murder in the deaths of Partch and Miller. Buggs had previously been arrested in a series of attempted burglaries in Irvine, California, on April 22, and was also accused of shooting at a residence after a person who lived there spotted him. Buggs is a personal trainer and police have not said he has any connection to Partch and Miller. You can read more about Buggs here.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Miller’s Son Said in a Facebook Post That Authorities Told Him His Mother Had Been Shot
Miller’s son wrote on Facebook on April 21 saying his mother “had been shot and it was told to us that she did not suffer.” Miller was the mother of two children, according to posts on her Facebook page. Miller’s son said in part, “I have no doubt in my mind that she was loved on earth and I’m happy that she gets to be loved even better in heaven. I love you mom.”
Miller’s neighbor, Terri Rawson, told Fox Los Angeles, “I know the sweet, loving, warm, wonderful woman that she was and it’s hard to say she ‘was.’ I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that she’s gone.” While Miller’s mother, Mary Lu, described hearing about her daughter’s death as “the worst nightmare any mother can imagine,” in an interview with KTLA.
2. Darren Partch Was Described as Being ‘Very Calming’ & ‘Very Likeable’
Partch’s friend, James Kwast, told ABC Los Angeles that Partch “was a great guy. My first interaction with him, he was very calming, he’s very likable.” Kwast continued by saying that Partch and Miller “hit it off” and that Miller was known for giving people rides home. The ABC report went on to say that on April 23, locksmiths could be seen changing the locks outside of Miller’s home in Costa Mesa.
3. Partch Attended a Presitigious Hockey-Focused Boarding School in Canada
In February 2004, Partch told the Las Vegas Sun that he was shipped off to boarding school in Alberta at the age of 15. Partch said that his parents had enrolled him in the hockey-focused Banff Hockey Academy in Alberta. Partch said, “You wake up at 7 or 8, go skate for a few hours, go to school, and either leave for your game, or you play your game, or are basically practicing every single day.” Following his high school graduation, Partch redshirted at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. A year later, he transferred to Plattsburgh State in New York.
That piece described Partch as growing up in Agoura Hills, California, and excelling in roller hockey. According to Stats Crew, Partch played as a forward for the Dubuque Fighting Saints, Waterloo Black Hawks, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, Long Beach Ice Dogs, Lubbock Cotton Kings, Las Vegas Wranglers, San Diego Gulls, Tulsa Oilers and Jacksonville Barracudas between 1999 and 2005.
4. Since Retiring From Hockey, Partch Worked in Digital Marketing
According to his LinkedIn page, Partch was working as an account executive for Atrinsic, a New York City-based digital marketing company. On Partch’s Facebook page he referred to himself as being from Thousand Oaks, California, and had been living in Corona del Mar at the time of his death. In 2004, Partch told the Las Vegas Sun that his family had moved to Sin City when he was 14 years old.
5. Wendi Miller Was a Licensed Psychologist in California & Michigan
Wendi Miller’s profile on Wings for Justice’s official website details that she was a licensed psychologist in Michigan and in California. Miller had been working with children, couples and families for over 12 years. During her life, Miller published two books, “Betrayed Vows” and “The Care Point Training Manual for Facilitators of Support Groups.”