WESTMINSTER (CBSLA.com) — A Huntington Beach man accused of killing two women and setting fire to the house of one of the victims in Westminster was in a Santa Ana court Wednesday.
Christopher Ken Ireland, 37, was arrested in connection with the deaths. Ireland’s wife worked with both victims at the Huntington Beach Stein Mart, and they had all been at Holtrey’s home Saturday night. Police say there is security footage linking Ireland to the crime, but they have not determined a motive.
His attorney asked for time to continue the arraignment. The request was granted and Ireland will be arraigned Jan. 20. He is being held without bail.
Flames tore through the house in the 5000 block of Northwestern Way around 5:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day after a party there.
The homeowner, Yolanda Holtrey, 59, was not home at the time of the fire, according to Westminster police. The next morning, the bodies of Holtrey and her 49-year-old co-worker Michele Luke of Huntington Beach were found in a field near a mall in Newport Beach 10 miles away, police said.
John Robinson had kind things to say about his neighbor Luke.
“She was super nice, real outgoing, very social, smart, fun lady,” Robinson said. “It seems unbelievable. The whole thing seems unbelievable,”
Holtrey’s son and daughter are trying to understand why a man who she just met would want to kill her and her co-worker and then set the house on fire.
“She was a rock of our family,” Harmony Holtrey said.
Harmony Holtrey and her brother shared pictures of their mother Yolanda Holtrey at her Westminster home where they grew up.
“You can tell by her decorations she’s wanted to bring joy to people’s lives and she welcomed people into her home,” Harmony Holtrey said.
Hours after the New Year’s Eve gathering, neighbors reported a fire at the home.
The manager at the Stein Mart said his employees didn’t have anything to say. With tears in his eyes he just said he’s trying to help his employees get through this difficult time.
Holtrey’s children already lost their father when he was in his 30s, and are now just trying to cope.
They’ll be in court to face the man who is accused and who they say their mom had just met.
“What kind of person does this to someone they just met, I look at it as just a sick person,” Holtrey’s son Fabian Garcia said. “I want me and him to make eye contact.”