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October 3, 2023

Santa Cruz police treating suspicious death as a homicide

SANTA CRUZ—Santa Cruz police are investigating the death of a man whose body was discovered Sunday in a rural setting in the Soquel hills.

A person checking a property line in a wooded area off of Glen Canyon Road near Redwood Drive in Santa Cruz led the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department to the body, said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Ashley Keehn.

An autopsy revealed the person was a victim of a homicide, said Lt. Warren Barry of SCPD. While the cause of death has not been determined, initial findings show the victim had been stabbed, Barry said.

The victim was identified as 36-year-old Santa Cruz County resident Douglass Murdock. He has been listed as a missing person by SCPD since December 2019.

A press release regarding the suspicious death had the same case number as a police incident from Dec. 23 in which SCPD issued a warrant at a residence on the 300 block of Pennsylvania Street in Santa Cruz. 

The warrant stemmed from suspicious circumstances, SCPD said. The resident at the Pennsylvania Street property has had numerous contacts with police from various law agencies. 

Around the time of the search warrant police received information that one of the residents at the home had access to an assault rifle, SCPD said. Police set up a mobile command post at the site and were seen in protective suits wheeling wheelbarrow loads of soil out of the property.

No arrests were made at the time. 

Santa Cruz police are still investigating the cases in concert with the Santa Cruz County District Attorney and Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.

Anyone with information is asked to call the SCPD Investigations Unit at 420-5820. 

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.

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