Crime & Justice

DNA leads to arrest in Calif. beach house killings

After an 11-month investigation, police arrested a man in the stabbing of a pregnant woman and her husband at their California beach house while their two young children were home

Joshua Packer, 20, will be arraigned on three counts of murder and two counts of robbery Tuesday in Superior Court.

He was arrested Sunday after his DNA collected in a separate robbery case was linked to the killings that shocked this beachside neighborhood of Faria Beach along U.S. Highway 101 about 80 miles from Los Angeles.

Brock and Davina Husted, both 42, were repeatedly stabbed last May by an intruder wearing a motorcycle helmet who slipped into their home through an open sliding-glass door. Police considered it a triple homicide because Davina Husted was about five months pregnant.

The Husteds' 9-year-old son saw a man confront his mother in the kitchen and ran to his 11-year-old sister, who was asleep, authorities said. The children then ran to a neighbor's home and called 911. They were not hurt and now live with relatives.

"It's horrible for the children," sheriff's Capt. Ross Bonfiglio said.

Sheriff's Deputy Chief Gary Pentis said the stabbings were some of the most horrific homicides in years in Ventura County.

Pentis believes the crime began as a robbery. He said items were taken from the couple's home but didn't provide further details.

"My personal opinion is this was not a random act," Pentis said. He wouldn't say whether Packer knew either Brock or Davina Husted. No other arrests were expected.

Packer's DNA was entered into a state database after he was arrested for investigation of robbery at a Santa Barbara gas station in September 2009. He is suspected of pulling a gun and ordering a clerk to the ground.

Authorities put Packer under surveillance and seized items that police believe were in his possession on the night of the killings. Other evidence includes text messages and telephone conversations, Pentis said.

Scott Husted, brother of Brock Husted, said the family was grateful for the hard work of detectives but added the arrest does not ease the loss.

"When two people and their baby are killed, there's no way it will ever make sense," he said.

Packer, a security guard, was being held in county jail on $2.2 million bail. It wasn't immediately known if he retained an attorney.

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