Santa Rosa Police Look for Killer of Michela Wooldridge
Police are still searching for the killer of a homeless mother
who was found by joggers in downtown Santa Rosa the morning
after Halloween, as reported by the Humboldt Sentinel.
They don’t have any suspects yet but do have some leads that are being followed up on. So far, no witnesses have come forward.
Police said 24-year-old Michela Wooldridge had recently become homeless after dropping out of a drug recovery program. She was killed off Fourth Street just outside downtown Santa Rosa, near a lamp shop. She was a former Humboldt County resident.
Investigators said Wooldridge was stabbed several times with a knife or blade- edged instrument. They believe she was most likely was killed where she was found.
Wooldridge leaves behind a 2-year-old son. Investigators said she came to Santa Rosa from at the beginning of October. Growing up largely in Cloverdale, she had recently been living in Humboldt County.
Friends said she had a rough childhood. She was wrestling with repressed memories of childhood molestation and more recent sexual trauma, as well as episodes of drug use, family members said.
She came to Santa Rosa to take part in a one-year recovery program at the Victory Outreach Women’s Christian Recovery Home. But she left the program Oct. 11, apparently with a man she met in Santa Rosa, according to her former boyfriend, Clearlake resident Nick Azbill, the father of Wooldridge’s 2-year-old son.
Wooldridge’s mother, Elizabeth Vawter, and her husband, Kevin Wilson, have recovered her daughter’s remains and taken them back to Humboldt County to bury her alongside her
grandparents in Fortuna.
People at Santa Rosa’s The Living Room and the nearby Interlink Self Help Center saw her more recently after she left her recovery home including up to the day before her body was found, said Celeste Austin, program coordinator for The Living Room Day Shelter at Church of the Incarnation.
Wooldridge was a sweet, approachable woman who made friends easily and whose naivete and vulnerability makes her violent death all the more difficult to bear, Austin said.
“Our women were impacted at The Living Room in a pretty deep way because it was a woman; it was someone who some of them knew, and she was murdered brutally,” Austin said. “And so our women are feeling unsafe because they haven’t apprehended the individual.”
Staff and volunteers at the day shelter have offered counseling and support, but there were others “in a lot of pain around this death,” she said.
After a week of investigation, detectives are without a suspect, though they are continuing to conduct interviews and developing leads through family members scattered around the North Coast and members of the local homeless community, Santa Rosa Police Sgt. David Linscomb said.
“We’re going in a lot of directions with this,” Linscomb said. “We haven’t ruled anything out. People in the homeless community, my advice — stay vigilant, and stay careful.”
The Sonoma County Alliance is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect in the case through its “Take Back Our Community” program.
Santa Rosa Police have a special tip line at (707) 975-1106.
(Posted by Skippy Massey)