What in the devil is going on in Rancho Santa Margarita?
Essentially a giant master planned community, the 10-year-old city boasts neighborhoods with rows of million-dollar homes, locations where most of The Real Housewives of Orange County are filmed and, until the past 13 days, no reported homicides since 2005.
Three people have been shot to death since the night of July 17 in the same upscale Robinson Ranch community.
That's when Newport Beach bail bondsman Dean Patrick Maldonado was gunned down
in the home of a woman he'd been romantically involved with. Orange County Sheriff's deputies, who patrol Rancho Santa Margarita, are still trying to discover if the shooter was justified in ending Maldonado's life.
Eleven days later and about a mile away from the Stonetower neighborhood where Maldonado was killed, Eddie and Stacey Bryant were found shot to death in an upscale, two-story home on Birdhollow Drive. He apparently gave his wife no warning before shooting her and then turning the gun on himself.
The Stonetower and Birdhollow incidents are otherwise totally separate, but the killings are still jarring for a sleepy bedroom community more accustomed to police calls for trespassing, drunken driving and cats stuck in trees.