CARLSBAD — The horrific and shocking home-invasion burglary and murder of a 63-year-old Carlsbad woman has put the city on edge.
The victim, Marjorie Gawitt, was stabbed 50 times in her home at around midnight Monday morning, according to reports.
As a result of growing fear and uneasiness, Carlsbad PD Lt. Greg Koran said the department will hold community meeting on March 20 at 5:30 p.m. at the Carlsbad Safety Training Center, 5750 Orion St.
Koran remarked on the important role residents in the community played in leading to the arrests of Bushee and James.
“We are approaching people to give them peace of mind,” Koran said. “The purpose of this is to give people the opportunity to ask questions, grieve in their own way and understand what we (PD) do.”
Koran also said the department representatives will answer questions about personal and home safety, adding that while residents may not see the police everyday, the department and its officers are out on the streets every day.
Law enforcement officials reminded residents of the motto, “see something, say something.”
Two suspects — Ian Bushee, 37, and Malissa James, 26 — were arrested on Tuesday after police found the pair hiding in bushes on Park Drive, less than a mile from Gawitt’s home on Outrigger Lane.
The defendants pleaded not guilty Wednesday to multiple felony charges including first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and auto theft.
James is also facing a separate charge of torture in the fatal attack.
Investigators believe Bushee and James broke into Gawitt’s home, attacked her before fleeing in the victim’s vehicle, Lt. Jason Jackowski said in a previous report.
Gawitt was able to call emergency dispatchers and died shortly after arriving at a local hospital, according to San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Nicole Rooney.
Officers searched for the burglars by ground and aboard a law enforcement helicopter throughout Monday morning.
Deputies found the victim’s vehicle abandoned on the 800 block of Grand Avenue in San Marcos shortly after 5:30 a.m. on Monday, San Diego County Sheriff’s Lt. David Buether said.
Carlsbad police described Bushee and James as transients who are both on probation for residential burglary in San Bernardino County.
Bushee and James were arrested last April after a homeowner in Upland walked in on them burglarizing a home, according to The Press-Enterprise in Riverside.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.