Irvine has one of the lowest crime rates in the country, but the community also has its own lasting secrets and unsolved cases.
The list of high-profile unresolved Irvine cases ranges from headline killers and suspected conspiracies to mysterious deaths pending months for the coroner’s findings.
Despite the obstacles investigators face, recent updates have been made in three different cases.
• In the case of Jourdan Watanabe, a popular budding baseball player from Orange Coast College and former Northwood High School star, who died hours after police found him bleeding and injured in an Irvine store in late February, the coroners are investigating just recently completed.
Coroner’s investigators now say Watanabe died from multiple deep cuts, although the cause of death also states that tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid, or THC, was also found in his system along with chlorpheniramine, which is commonly used to treat allergies. Police say there were no signs of bad play, but it’s still unclear how Watanabe got to the Irvine store after walking out of a Lake Forest house earlier that night.
• A coroner’s recent determination has also shed light on the death of a man whose body was found in a van parked outside an Irvine food court on Main Street. Robert Sumner, 43, died of an accidental death due to the combined effects of cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, morphine and codeine, said Coroners Deputy Mitchell Sigal.
• Meanwhile, police have sought help from the public in finding a suspect in the death of a man who was found in a car parked behind a mall in Irvine in February. The governor’s office offered a $ 50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Other high profile unsolved cases in Irvine include:
• A failed attempt to assassinate James Patrick Riley in 2000 at Biofem’s Irvine headquarters sparked a series of events leading to the suicide of another partner in the company, Dr. Larry C. Ford, led a search for chemical agents and a weapon cache in an Irvine home in Woodbridge and allegations of ties to the South African government from the apartheid period.
• The murder of Brandi Mares, a 36-year-old mother of two who was found stabbed to death with a screwdriver on Thanksgiving 2006.
• The identity of the infamous Orange County’s serial killer known as the “Original Night Stalker” who struck Irvine multiple times during a ten year crime.
To find out the full story about these high profile unsolved cases, as well as the community’s weirdest crimes, read the Irvine Crime wiki section on the OC Register and go online at ocregister.com/Irvine for the latest news from Irvine.