A couple in their 40s as well as their large Great Dane were discovered shot in a murder-suicide in their home on Halloween night, the first murder to occur in Laguna Beach in three years, police said Thursday.
Investigators did not find a note at the Arch Beach Heights home at 835 La Mirada St., but recovered two handguns, both of which had been used, Capt. Jason Kravetz said. “We’re assuming it might be money issues,” said Kravetz as to a possible motive.
Mendy, 47, and Michael Brown, 49, who moved into the neighborhood on July 1, were having hard times and asked to break their lease, planning on returning to her family home in North Carolina, said Dani Purcell, a real estate broker representing the owner of the home rented by the Browns.
The couple’s belongings were all boxed up and scheduled to be moved this Saturday, said neighbor Matt Bond, who described Mendy as “super nice” and a daily presence in the neighborhood walking her dog. By contrast, Michael was noticeably quiet, the neighbors noted.
“They made lots of friends,” Purcell said. Even so, “Michael was upset that he moved his wife cross country and was struggling to make things work.”
Michael Brown worked for a technology company involved in animation, Kravetz said.
A friend, who had been contacted by the husband’s employer about his absence made the discovery about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31, entering the house through an open door, Kravetz said. Police believe the deaths occurred on Tuesday, Oct. 30, having interviewed someone who heard gunshots.
The last murder to occur in Laguna Beach was the beating death of hotel caterer Damon Nicholson, which occurred on Oct. 23, 2009. Suspects in his death are still awaiting trial. In another murder-suicide 10 years ago, a man used a ruse involving the exchange of mail to shoot his estranged wife and then himself on Wesley Drive, Kravetz said.
Preliminary information indicates that the male shot and killed the woman and dog before turning a gun on himself, Kravetz said.
Purcell said the couple each have a daughter from a previous marriage.