A man accused of killing a Santa Cruz woman over 2 years ago, and keeping her body in his East Cliff apartment for nearly 3 weeks, was found guilty of murder today. Jurors convicted 66-year old John Bruce Clauer after 4 hours of deliberation in the death of Heather Stearns in April 2011. Prosecutors say Stearns, a 1999 Santa Cruz High School graduate, was strangled and stomped to death. Neighbors claim they heard Stearns cry out for help the night of the murder, but didn’t call police until 2 weeks later about a terrible smell coming from Clauer’s apartment. Stearn’s body was found wrapped in blankets on his bed. He faces 25-years to life in prison.
Santa Cruz Council members are expected to meet tomorrow to discuss taking a nearly 50% pay raise. Council members currently earn an annual salary of $16,700, while the mayor earns $33,500. The salaries reflect 2008 rates less 10%t. The council could either set annual salaries at nearly $25,000 for it’s six part-time members and nearly $50,000 for the mayor, or could also choose to make a moderate adjustment or no raise at all. Assistant Manager Tina Shull said the city is considering increases now because the economy is recovering from a recession that began in 2008.
Victims of the Pfeiffer Fire in Big Sur will now be able to receive Federal financial assistance. The loans will be available through the U.S. Small Business Administration, which now has a new Disaster Loan Outreach Center at the Big Sur Lodge. The Center is expected to be open 9-a.m. to 6 p.m. through Thursday. Homeowners will be able to receive disaster loans up to 200,000, while businesses of any size and private, non profit organizations may borrow up to 2-million dollars to repair or replace damaged or destroyed property, machinery and equipment.
Police in Greenfield are searching for a suspect who shot a person in the face early Saturday morning. The shooting occurred around 2:40 a.m. on the 300-block of 10th street. The victim was airlifted to an area trauma center with serious injuries. Police ask anyone with any information to contact their anonymous tip line.
No one was injured after the Monterey County bomb squad responded to two different incidents over the weekend. The first incident occurred after a metal box was left outside of a Salinas Church Friday afternoon. The box was found by a pastor just before 4 o’clock outside the front doors to The Church of The Latter Day Saints on the 200 block of E. Alvin Drive. The bomb squad arrived and discovered paper ashes inside of the one-foot by one-foot metallic box. No evacuations were made however, a portion of E. Alvin Drive at McKinnon Street was closed until the roads were reopened as of 7 p.m. The second incident occurred Saturday after an unexploded military ordnance was detonated at a South Salinas home. Police say the bomb squad did not know if the ordnance was active, and detonated it as a safety precaution.
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