Iraq Fallout Comes to San Clemente
"With my brother in the mental state he's in since Iraq, nothing would surprise me."
That's Matt Needham talking about his brother, a 25-year-old who reportedly served two Army tours in Iraq before coming home to a plush San Clemente condo and allegedly beating his 19-year-old girlfriend to death.
Shortly before 11 p.m. Monday, deputies were called to 15 Paseo Luna -- in the same condominium complex as the photo shown here -- by a woman who said she had been in a dispute with another woman inside the condo and wanted to be escorted inside to retrieve property. But deputies were greeted at the door by the suspect, who was completely nude and combative.
The Orange County Register reports that deputies fought with the unidentified suspect and used a stun gun to apprehend him before searching the home and finding the unconscious 19-year-old woman, who was taken to Mission Hospital where she died at 12:15 a.m., said Orange County Sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino.
Amormino confirmed the victim was the suspect's girlfriend. The suspect lived in the condo with his father and brother.
KTLA Morning News interviewed Matt Needham at the scene this morning.
"He's been really mentally unstable for the past few months," he said of his brother, who was taken to Orange County Jail. "He's no good since he got back, I'll be honest."
Needham said he knew a breakup with the girlfriend could be bad, but he "never saw this coming."
"He's my brother, we grew up in the crib together, I love him like no other ... and it's sad to know the person closest to me to completely write them off because they are crazy is sad."
Amormino revealed few details about the suspect to KTLA, other than to say he heard the man served two tours in Iraq and "since he has returned he has had problems." There were no records of police contact with the suspect since his return, but they had been previously called out for a domestic dispute involving the girlfriend, the spokesman said.
The KTLA crew was later approached by a woman identified only as Debbie who said the 19-year-old girl used to live with her family. The victim had called Debbie's house hours before deputies responded to Paseo Luna saying she was being abused, beaten and choked by the suspect. She was told to immediately leave the condo.
"She was a beautiful young lady, and she didn't deserve this," Debbie said as she fought back tears. "She didn't hurt or harm anybody. She was an awesome person and she will be missed dearly."
Debbie disputed an allegation the victim apparently made while in custody that the dead woman was addicted to drugs. "She had never done any drugs I was aware of," Debbie said. "She did drink a little."
The 19-year-old came to live in her home, Debbie said, because "she just wanted to better her self, to just work and she wanted to try be on her own. She didn't want to impose on her family."
She eventually left Debbie's household because she felt she was imposing there, too.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.