Jovanna Vasquez, the once popular childcare provider, was sent to county jail last Friday for violating a court order prohibiting her from communicating with her three adopted children, whom she is accused of mistreating. Prosecutors presented evidence that Vasquez sent coded letters to her kids, now in protective custody. Vasquez got in hot water with the court nearly six months ago for seeking to communicate with her children, who reportedly are afflicted with an associative disorder that prevents them from bonding adequately. Last week, Judge Ochoa remanded Vasquez into custody pending her October 16 court date.

Josiah Jenkins – the manager of this year’s Fiesta Rodeo – faces misdemeanor animal cruelty charges because animal rights activist Jolinda Hackett claims she saw rodeo workers use electric cattle prods on nine calves to get them through the chutes leading to the main pen. While legal in ranch work, cattle prods are prohibited when animals are confined in chutes. Hackett, who took video images upon which the charges are based, claims the Hot Shot cattle prod delivers a 5,000-volt jolt. Jenkins denied breaking the law, saying he used a “vibrator,” not a prod, and that it was only to “persuade” the cows to move, just as a father removes his belt as if to discipline a child. “Just seeing the belt is enough,” he said. Hackett claims her videotapes demonstrate that the electronic persuader was used while the cattle were in the chute, and not, as Jenkins claimed, leading up to it.

A 60-year-old grandfather was shot and killed while sitting in his car with his wife on West Islay Street. Frank Tacadena, a Santa Barbara native who did upholstery work, had just dropped off his granddaughter at his stepdaughter’s house when he was shot in the neck at point-blank range. A police spokesman declined to discuss the murder, but police arrested one suspect – John Manuel Lopez, 25 – on suspicion of accompanying the shooter to the scene of the crime. The gunman was still at large as of press time.

A 56-year-old woman fought off an armed intruder into her mobile home on Cacique Street. According to police, the woman was awakened by a man holding a large knife to her neck. While she struggled, her elderly father turned on the light, which so startled the intruder that he dropped the knife. As he bent down to pick it up, the woman repeatedly kicked him from behind. He fled. Arturo Lopez, 23, incriminated himself during a police search of the area with a rambling story about being recruited to commit robberies.

Four high school students have been accused of vandalizing a car belonging to the superintendent of schools for the greater Cuyama Valley. Jan Hensley found her car dented, scratched, and smeared with feces and urine after she attended a community planning meeting Tuesday night. Deputies said the vandalism was in retaliation for disciplinary action taken against one of the boys last year.

A local man was convicted last Friday of molesting his 6-year-old niece. Edi Aristondo was found guilty of three felony counts, and is scheduled to be sentenced October 15. He faces 15 years to life in prison. The girl said Aristondo began sexually molesting her when she was four.

DNA analysis has linked two teenagers to the rape of a 15-year-old girl in Los Olivos. The victim was raped in April 2005 after becoming intoxicated at a friend’s home. One suspect has been apprehended, but his name is being withheld because he was a minor when the crime was allegedly committed. The second suspect, Sean Hemmings, turned himself in on Tuesday.

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