San Juan Capistrano Murder Mystery Stuns the O.C.
Two adults are killed and a child is wounded in their luxury home – is a business dispute to blame?
Shortly before 2 a.m. on Feb. 9, in a hilltop neighborhood in southern Orange County, one or more people entered, without apparent resistance, a three-story luxury home and opened fire, leaving a man and woman dead and critically injuring an 8-year-old boy.
Two teenage girls in the 8,874-square-foot house were not hurt. One of them dialed 911. By morning, the quiet moneyed streets above San Juan Capistrano and its historic mission were blocked by crime-scene tape and invaded by news vans and police cars.
After days of investigation, no arrests have been made in the murders of Bradford and Andra Sachs and the wounding of their unidentified son, and residents have gone from stunned disbelief to fearful that a killer or killers are on the loose.
“We’re still exploring all possibilities, including their past and present business relationships,” Orange County sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Jeff Hallock tells PEOPLE. “And we’re still encouraging the public to call. Somebody knows something out there. We’re still trying to press hard.”
Seeking to ease concerns, the sheriff’s department issued a statement saying the crime “appears to be isolated to the residence” and that the department “continues to maintain that the city of San Juan Capistrano is a safe community,” but it offered little hard evidence to back that up.
With the boy last listed in critical but stable condition, detectives apparently had no motive and no possible suspects. They also released few details about the shootings, declining to say where the victims were located when they were shot or what kind of gun or guns were used. It wasn’t clear how many assailants entered the house or how they got in, only that there was “no forced entry.”
Complicating the investigation is the couple’s tangled personal and business histories.
Although living in the same house, Bradford, 57, and Andra, 54, actually had been divorced for years, the result of a battle so heated the judge suggested they stay away from each other, according to records obtained by the Orange County Register. For whatever reason, they reunited and continued to raise their children. In addition to the 8-year-old, at least one of the teenage girls was their daughter, as are two adult children no longer living at home.
The couple were involved in numerous real-estate ventures, with properties in three states and Mexico, plus investments and dealings over the years in a host of companies, including an Internet service provider. Their business dealings frequently landed them in court; the Register found 17 legal actions since 1999, with the pair named as defendants in all but two.
But friends and neighbors saw nothing that could have led to such violence.
“They were just loving, smiling people,” Andra’s close friend Kelley Winterbottom tells KCAL-9. “I couldn t imagine anybody wanting to hurt them for anything.”