Filed under: developing story

Family of five found dead in San Clemente, CA

Five dead bodies were found in a home in a gated community in San Clemente, CA on Sunday. A spokesperson for the local sheriff’s dept. indicated that the deaths were likely the result of “foul play.”

Authorities came to 31 Campanilla to do a welfare check after a relative of the family living there became concerned and called the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept.

The Orange County Register reported that the dead were “an elderly woman, a man and woman ages 40-50, and two women in their early 20s, all related.” The paper related another report from a local TV station: “KCAL-TV news reported that the home was occupied by a doctor and his wife, their twin daughters and a grandmother.”

31 Campanilla was the San Clemente address for accident reconstruction specialist Dr. Manas Ucar. Ucar’s expertise was in vehicle fires, explosions, and seat belts.

At one time Dr. Ucar was a professor at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. Several newspaper articles about Dr. Ucar were published in the Syracuse Post-Standard in the 70s and 80s. Interesting in light of this story was a small announcement published in that paper in October, 1986. It told of twin daughters being born on September 6 that year to Mr. and Mrs. Manas Ucar of 734 Westscott St.

Those daughters would have been 22 this fall.

A True Crime Weblog tipster sent an e-mail pointing out that a Manas Ucar once copyrighted an original screenplay. In fact, someone with that name copyrighted several screenplays in 1996 and 1997. Some of the titles: Master Play; Light of the Morning Sun; The Adventures of Dr. Inspector Dimmier–Viva Casablanca!; Viva Casablanca! The Adventures of Dr. Michael Mirage; and Kill Me Last.

Police in San Clemente have not said if the deaths were murder-suicide or a mass homicide. They have indicated, however, that ” there is no threat to the community.”


Via the OC Register:

Sheriff’s Lt. Erin Giudice declined to give the exact street address for the house, but neighbors said it was 31 Campanilla. That house is owned by Manas Ucar, property record show. Ucar is listed as a consulting engineer and an expert witness for accident investigations, according to – an online California database of expert witnesses.

Property records also list a Margaret or Margrit Ucar at the address.


The family that owned the house, the Ucars, had twin daughters in their early 20s, said Roxie Weaver, a neighbor.


Grace and Margaux Ucar were 2004 graduates of San Clemente High School, according to a yearbook Weaver showed to KDOC. A Grace and Margo Ucar studied human biology at UC San Diego, where they were due to graduate this year, according to a list posted on the university’s Web site.

The twins’ mother had a jewelry store at the atrium in Fashion Island, Weaver said. She said the family had lived in the gated neighborhood for 17 or 18 years and were “very private…”

Readers have filled the comments with further info, but some of that info was simply clipped from this blog entry.

Deadly Ricin Discovered in Vegas Hotel *UPDATED*

UPDATE, 3/02/08

(Post date and time have been changed to bump this entry to the top of the blog’s main page.)

An article published today in the Salt Lake Tribune has new information about Roger Von Bergendorff, the man currently in a coma in a Vegas hospital after possible exposure to ricin. While it still isn’t clear that he is the same Bergendorff whose award-winning artwork was featured on the covers of science fiction novels and possibly even magazines (link may not be safe for work) he is described as a “57-year-old graphic designer” who moved to Las Vegas from Utah over a year ago, allegedly for a job in his field.

Police in Salt Lake are investigating the Riverton-area home Bergendorff shared with cousin Tom Tholen in 2005 and 2006 and a nearby camper where Bergendorff lived after moving out of the Tholen residence. The owner of the camper, John Walster, told the Tribune that Bergendorff was basically a nice guy who could sometimes flip and become “vindictive” towards others. While Walster was aware that Bergendorff may have owned a handgun, he never saw the graphic designer behave in a violent manner.

Bergendorff was apparently a loner in while living in Utah and continued his asocial ways in Vegas, tending to his pets and minding his own business. He reportedly told John Walster of past problems with drugs, but he’d apparently beat his addictions.

Walster’s wife, Carol, wasn’t fond of Roger Bergendorff. She told the Tribune that she “never felt comfortable around” the man. “There was just something about him,” she said.

Other sentiments in the same article are similar to Carol Walster’s — something about Roger Von Bergendorff bothered others. The Tholens’ neighbors, however, are certain that Tom Tholen had nothing to do with any of Bergendorff’s current pursuits.

UPDATE, 3/01/08

Right-wing bloggers like Michelle Malkin are interested in this story, perhaps because they believe it to be related to terrorism.

As you’ll see if you follow the link to Malkin’s blog, the man currently hospitalized in Las Vegas is 57-year-old Roger Von Bergendorff. Not the most muslim-sounding name you’ll see today.

Malkin references the Las Vegas Review Journal‘s article naming Von Bergendorff. The paper acquired a “Homeland Security internal document” giving the comatose man’s name.

According to the Review Journal, Von Bergendorff called emergency services on February 14. He indicated that he was in distress and needed to go to the hospital.

Von Bergendorff can’t speak, but authorities say his condition definitely dovetails with his having been exposed to ricin.

An “anarchist textbook” and firearms were found in the suite Von Bergendorff had occupied. The “textbook’s” section dealing with the preparation of ricin was bookmarked, or “tabbed.”

Police learned about the toxic substance from Thomas Tholen, age 53, who said he was related to Von Bergendorff. Tholen entered the suite and found the poison as well as castor beans. Ricin is derived from processing castor beans.

Authorities don’t seem to believe that the ricin was intended for an act of terrorism. They have been equivocal about Von Bergendorff, as well; he could have been a victim, not the creator of the substance. They did indicate to the Las Vegas paper that Von Bergendorff had at least one misdemeanor arrest on his record, but that was it.

Public records show a Roger V. Bergendorff, also age 57, has lived in both Riverton and St. George, Utah.

Relatives or not, Bergendorff and Thomas Tholen have both been listed in public records at the same Riverton street address, a 3-bedroom, 1-story home in the 3000 block of West 13400 Street. Salt Lake County property records show that address is owned by Tholen.

There is no evidence at the moment that the man in the Vegas hospital is the same Roger Bergendorff who created sci-fi-oriented visual art in the 80s, but it is interesting to note that some of the Salt Lake City-related info found related to a Thomas Tholen online indicate that Tholen may be a fine arts teacher at a Salt Lake area high school.


Las Vegas authorities say an unnamed man is currently in critical condition and comatose in a local medical facility, a possible victim of exposure to ricin. The man was found Thursday night in a room at the Extended Stay America Motel.

Though FBI spokesman Richard Kolko publicly stated that this incident “does not appear to be terrorism related,” the FBI and Homeland Security are working with local police to determine just why anyone would have any positive reason to have one of the deadlier toxins known to man in a Vegas motel room. There has been speculation that the poison was related to a murder plot.

Several others were treated for possible exposure as a precaution, but so far, only one person has fallen ill.

Ricin is a vicious killer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is made out of castor beans and can be made into a pellet, mist, or powder. Further info from the CDC on what ricin can do, depending on how it is ingested:

# Inhalation: Within a few hours of inhaling significant amounts of ricin, the likely symptoms would be respiratory distress (difficulty breathing), fever, cough, nausea, and tightness in the chest. Heavy sweating may follow as well as fluid building up in the lungs (pulmonary edema). This would make breathing even more difficult, and the skin might turn blue. Excess fluid in the lungs would be diagnosed by x-ray or by listening to the chest with a stethoscope. Finally, low blood pressure and respiratory failure may occur, leading to death. In cases of known exposure to ricin, people having respiratory symptoms that started within 12 hours of inhaling ricin should seek medical care.

# Ingestion: If someone swallows a significant amount of ricin, he or she would develop vomiting and diarrhea that may become bloody. Severe dehydration may be the result, followed by low blood pressure. Other signs or symptoms may include hallucinations, seizures, and blood in the urine. Within several days, the person’s liver, spleen, and kidneys might stop working, and the person could die.

Comments with new links and updates are welcome, as are tips or inside information about this strange and still-developing story.

This entry will be updated and revised.


Yahoo News/AP: “Man critical after ricin find in Vegas.”
Reuters: “Toxin ricin found in Las Vegas hotel room.”

A Fire in Fishkill (Developing Story out of New York)…

The fire was reported just after 3 in the morning. Someone passing 203 Route 82 in Fishkill, New York spotted flames leaping from the 21/2-story dwelling and phoned emergency services.

Authorities determined that the fire was the result of arson. The dead people inside the house had not simply succumbed to the smoke or the heat, either — they’d been murdered.

At the moment, it appears that the toll in this dawning nightmare is three kids, two adults.

New York State Police have not identified any suspects and they are not releasing the names of the people found in the home.

In press conference held close to the burned-out home, Major William Carey, State Police Troop K, said that a vehicle fire had been reported about 20 minutes after the fire at 203 Route 82. Carey told reporters that the car fire “appeared to be related.” 1.

Someone posting a comment on the article that provided the info for this blog entry wrote the following about the house on Route 82:

This house on Route 82 caught my attention yesterday as I drove past about 2:45 pm. I thought the place looked neglected and their was garbage scattered all over the yard. This was not the way this house usually looked. This is such a terrible thing, and now they are saying it was a homicide…

I will update this blog entry as more news becomes available. Anytime 5 people die at once under such mysterious circumstances, it’s news worth following — especially if you live in the neighborhood. Obviously I don’t… and at the moment, I’m glad.

UPDATE, 9:32 p.m. ET

From the Hudson Valley News, the names of the victims:

Police Friday evening identified the five people killed in a house that was torched in the Town of Fishkill that morning as a mother, father and their three sons.

The Dutchess County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled the deaths as homicide.

Dead are Manual Morey, 33, Tina Morey, 30, and their children, Manuel Morey, 13, Adam Morey, 10, and six-year-old Ryan Morey…

Other articles indicated that the 10-year-old boy had been stabbed to death, the youngest boy, Ryan, was bludgeoned.

A family vehicle was found torched on Lomala Lane, about a mile-and-a-half from the home on Route 82.

This horrific story is still developing…

1.Police: ‘Multiple homicides’ at site of Fishkill fire,” The Poughkeepsie Journal, January 19, 2007.