'Amazing, Loving Mother' Is Found Dead with Ex-Pro Hockey Player in His Newport Beach Condo

KC Baker
Charges Filed in Murder of Calif. Mom, Ex-Hockey Player

A California mom who’d been missing since Friday night and a former pro hockey player were found dead in his Newport Beach condominium Sunday in what police are calling a possible double-homicide.

On Sunday at 9:30 p.m., Newport Beach police responded to a 911 call from a man who returned to his upscale condo to find the bodies of his roommate, Darren Partch, 38, as well as a woman he did not recognize, later identified by the Orange County coroner as Wendy Miller, 48, of Costa Mesa, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Police are investigating. They have said the crime was an isolated incident with no sign of forced entry, and they do not believe the public is in danger, local ABC affiliate KABC reports.

Miller had been missing since late Friday night, KABC reports. On Saturday, her son, Luke Carpenter, pleaded on Facebook for her safe return.

Newport Beach resident James Kwast says Miller had given Partch a ride home Friday night after they left the Sandpiper bar in Laguna Beach, where she was last seen, the Times reports.

“They hit it off,” Kwast told the Times. “They had a great time down in Laguna Beach. He needed a ride home. She was known for giving people rides home whenever they needed it.”

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A friend of Miller’s told local CBS affiliate KCAL that Miller had texted friends early Saturday morning saying she was OK, KCAL reports. “From what I understand it just said, ‘We made it safely. Did you make it home OK?'” the unidentified friend told KCAL. “She was checking in but she didn’t say where she was and she wasn’t home.”

A well-known social justice advocate in the community, Miller was chief executive of Wings for Justice, a nonprofit that works to protect children in the family court system.

On Sunday, Miller’s son wrote an emotional post on Facebook announcing his mom’s tragic death and thanking everyone for their support, saying, “She had been shot and it was told to us that she did not suffer. The police are still investigating all the details,” the post read.

It continued, “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.”

A statement released by Miller’s family says, “Wendi lit up every room she entered,” KABC reports. “She was an amazing, loving mother. She was joy and light and love.”

Partch worked as a finance and credit consultant, KABC reports. He played on several minor league hockey teams over the years, according to Pointstreak.com.

“Darren was a great guy,” Kwast told the Times. “My first interaction with him, he was very calming. He’s very likable.”

The Newport Beach Police Department did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to call Det. Rick Henry at (949) 644-3797.