Body Found on Isla Vista Beach

Originally published 10:45 a.m., May 4, 2014
Updated 6:00 p.m., May 4, 2014
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At 7:03 a.m. this morning, the body of a 20-year-old female was found on the beach below the 6700 block of Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista. According to Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Vince Agapito, two people spotted the body and called 9-1-1, but emergency crews declared the woman dead at the scene. The case has been forwarded to the Sheriff’s Office for investigation. Calls to Sheriff’s officials were not immediately returned.

Sierra Markee-Winkler
Click to enlarge photo


Sierra Markee-Winkler

[UPDATE, 6:00 p.m.]: The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office has identified the woman found dead this morning on an Isla Vista beach as UCSB student Sierra Markee-Winkler of Eureka, California. Initial dispatch information from the County Fire Department has been updated by law enforcement officials.

Markee-Winkler’s body was discovered by a bicyclist at approximately 7 a.m., said Sheriff’s spokesperson Kelly Hoover, who also stated that Markee-Winkler was found below the 6800 block of Del Playa Drive. Detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding her death, Hoover said.

“The exact cause and manner of death will not be determined for several weeks and is pending a coroner’s investigation,” said Hoover. “If anyone has information on this case, please contact the Isla Vista Foot Patrol at (805) 681-4179.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

"Calls to Sheriff's officials were not immediately returned." I've become used to it , public information hasn't been their strong suit in a while. RIP to friends and family, this is terrible news and hopefully law enforcement can thwart this from happening again. Once is too many times, but student deaths have become all too common.

ooshea (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2014 at 11:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

how does this keep happening?

StockiestCastle (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2014 at 12:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

They put a party school on a cliff, and then don't put enough law enforcement resources there (or at least in the right places) for the public safety. Clearly the SBSO's attempt to thwart underaged drinking in IV isn't working.

ooshea (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2014 at 12:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Stop jumping to conclusions about something you weren't part of.

Consider this - the Sheriffs are doing their job and not releasing any info to the general public until they've figured out what happened - other that what was already reported - investigations are an inherent part of what they do.

Also, and please - consider the family and friends of the deceased, as this is their personal tragedy to deal with, not yours... the information, when ready, will be released in due time.

Lastly, instead of clamoring for more "nanny state" tactics (more rules, more laws, more nets, more cops, etc) that we're already living with, how about we all consider the personal responsibility each of us has to ourselves, and the common courtesy of helping others whose paths we come across, to do what we can do to (hopefully) avoid horribly tragic situations like these - for the greater good of our community, and humanity as a whole.

Step up and become part of a better solution instead of sitting in the spectators seat whining for answers.

MotoBella (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2014 at 1:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)


Why are you blaming (1) the cliff, and/or (2) law enforcement when someone has an accident?

Does UCSB itself party, or do persons off-campus party? Whatever that word is supposed to mean.

Drinking, doing drugs, getting into fights and making irresponsible choices is an odd way to "party".

Perhaps you have a different definition of this word. Used to mean just having fun, and living to tell about it afterwards.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2014 at 2:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A young woman on a date with a military cadet (can't remember if he was from Hueneme or Vandenberg) fell to her death from the cliffs on the east side of UCSB in about 1966. UCSB promptly put up fences, few if any deaths since. Even though the dorms are right there.

In Isla Vista, it is the job of Santa Barbara County to devise building codes and enforce them to provide human safety. In the 60 years that IV has been densely inhabited, the County has not required fences along the bluff top.

About one death every two years in IV from falling off the cliffs. Only recently did a student group, Fence Isla Vista, step and try to address the situation…

Last year when a balcony collapsed, people were quick to blame the students. But the real fault was with the County for not requiring good engineering in the building codes.

pardallchewinggumspot (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2014 at 2:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)


High, steep place: fall-y, fall-y, dangerous, don't need warnings or fences. Just need to stay away. Life cannot be 100% insulated from common sense.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2014 at 3:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree with your overall sentiment about people using common sense Foofighter, but according to what I read in this article, all they say is that the woman was dead, but not how they think she died.

She could have been murdered, or died from a natural cause.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2014 at 5:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you for pointing out the distinction. I was addressing the prior demand that all IV cliffs need fences. At this time it is not even known what the cause of death was or if related to any fall from a cliff in the first place. It was an inappropriate diversion on my part.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2014 at 5:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Intoxication + out of towners not familiar with the bluffs + dangerous cliffs make for a bad combination. I was a disgusted with some of the behavior exhibited during Del Topia as the next person but that doesn't mean that falling to your death is a reasonable punishment for underaged drinking. And you can bet your last dollar that if it were happening in an area frequented by drunk Old Spanish Days patrons that the city would move heaven and earth to fence the bluffs.

DarkMarcsun (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2014 at 5:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)


ahem (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2014 at 7:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hopefully after enough mayhem and debauchery - the paradigm shift will bring with it - more compassion, understanding, empathy and a heightened regard for the sanctity of life.

sbresident2 (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2014 at 8:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Another tragedy, I feel terrible for her friends and family. Of course we don't know the cause of death, but none of the possibilities are happy.

Isla Vista is a high density community built along a dangerous cliff. The County approved the subdivision and all the buildings that put thousands of people near the cliff, day in, day out. The County should be responsible for the safety.

The last cliff death, Giselle Ayala, had a blood alcohol level of 0.145, indicating most likely significant impairment. She did *not* deserve to die for having gotten drunk, however. A better fence would have saved her life.

I don't think there's been a death from the cliffs on the east side of UCSB since 1966 or so, when the fences there were put up.

pardallchewinggumspot (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 6:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

She was a sweet soul, worked @ Java Station, always pleasant & smiling. A sad thing. Even sadder is the fact that these "best and brightest" can't govern or manage themselves in a way that keeps them safe or alive.
You can blame the university, law enforcement or county for not doing enough, but the fact to the matter is that responsibility is a 2 way street. The so called "best and brightest" need to live up to their end of the bargain by showing some responsibility as well as accountability. THEY DON'T.
Besides, if the university, law enforcement or county did more then you'd have certain individuals saying stupid crap like "leave IV alone" or claiming "social injustice" because the mentioned entities ARE doing their job.
Remember how much certain individuals bitched about the surveillance cameras in IV? Remember how they claim those cctv's made people act up? What a crock of crap!
If you drive down ANY avenue or road in Goleta/Santa Barbara guess what? YOU'RE ON CCTV!
Enough already, get over it. That's 2 girls dead within the span of a year and a few weeks, numerous stabbings, one resulting in a death, a couple of brutal sexual assaults on women, the balcony disaster, where does it end? Never will as long as people don't accept the fact that IV is in a state of disarray.
I'm going to miss this lovely young lady's smile and humor when I go to Java Station, so will many others.
Meanwhile, these fools keep running around yelling "YOLO" and getting wasted beyond the point of being incoherent. Yeah, you only live once, but why does it have to be a short life? A sad and tragic loss, thanks IV, you're doing it WRONG!

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 10:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@pardallchewinggum I believe that someone fell off the cliffs downtown last year. I think it was at Shoreline Park? It happens in San Diego too. I'm actually surprised it does not happen more often in Isla Vista. The students seem to be pretty aware of the dangers, but accidents happen.

laxer (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 10:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is just hella sad - she had so much more life to live. I won't surmise the exact circumstances of her passing. I went to ucsb 2007-2012 - these cliffs are treacherous and the view of the ocean can captivate one into losing your bearings without even being drunk. A better fence would absolutely prevent these falls from happening regardless of the case - but Isla Vista is broke and Santa Barbara county doesn't do shi*t to help the residents. They only help private businesses and put more cops on the street who really dont give a crap about anybody living there.

CHARRIStheBOSS (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 10:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Peggi Donaubauer, remembered her name. April 1966, something else makes me recall the date. Went to a party with a Vandenberg Cadet, drank too much, fell off the cliffs on the east side of the UCSB campus. UCSB put fences up, can't recall another cliff death on the east side of campus.

Seems like about one every two years on average in IV, where there aren't complete fences.

pardallchewinggumspot (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 10:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey guys, how about the girl during douchetopia last year? Then,as if cliffs ain't enough, how about that couple that fell of the balcony just before Thanksgiving of 2011 where the girl died and the guy got critically injured?
It ain't just about the cliffs, yes, they're a factor, but there's more to the IV picture that's being missed.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 12:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@ooshea law enforcement does not help people from falling off of cliffs, in fact, Giselle Ayala may have fallen off of the cliff BECAUSE law enforcement came to break up a party while she may have been using the area on the other side of the fence to go to the restroom. This is a very highly probably explanation based on the witness testimony that right after she told her friends she had to use the restroom, cops came to break up parties. She seemed like a pretty outdoor friendly girl, and since all of the regulations and new ordinance restrictions that you can't serve alcohol to minors at an open party, it makes it very difficult to access a person's house these days simply to use the restroom. I used to do that all the time when I lived there and it wasn't a big deal. Now there are no public restrooms and people are very hesitant to allow others to use theirs so people often use the cliffs as there is usually room on the other side of the fence. Using the other side of the fence is something else I did quite often, although as a guy usually you can get away with simply peeing through the fence if you hop over to an empty patio.

Giselle may have been terrified of being arrested for public urination and intoxication when she saw the cop and could have tried to sneak away which caused the fall. .145 BAC is not so high that it would cause somebody to wander off of a cliff, but it could cause them to lose balance if they were already there.

We don't even know if this girl died from falling yet, but I'm going to take a wild guess and say that if it was then maybe we need to stop restricting the parties so that residents may allow guests in if they wish and they can have a place to go to the bathroom.

So now I have thought of THREE ways that cops enforcing these anti-privacy alcohol ordinances push kids to fall off of the cliffs just by enforcing them -

1. Physically scare someone off the cliff who is using the restroom on the other side of the cliff.

2. Cause more people to use the cliffs as a restroom since the access to open parties has become extremely limited.

3. Not to mention, as I've said many times, kids end up drinking a lot more before they go out and party because they don't have alcohol served at open parties anymore and they know they have to binge drink before they go out if they want to get drunk. It used to be more hit and miss, you would get buzzed then go out and you could drink at a more comfortable pace IF you found a party that served alcohol and still had some left and the keg line wasn't too long.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 12:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

loon, your trolling has become boring.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 12:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Here he goes again, the as*hat that pretends to know anything about everything but knows nothing and continues spewing.
Loondork, YOU KNOW NOTHING OF IV. You never lived there, you don't live there, you know NOTHING about that place, yet you never stop spewing your wannabe anarchist/pseudo socialist bull for everyone within typeshot.
Your drug induced paranoid delusional stupidity has been proven to be wrong every time, all the time.
The ONLY thing defending you here is the 1st Amendment right to be as stupid as you want to be.
Again, you know nothing of IV, yet you don't shut up about it. How adamantly stupid of you.
Go ahead, post another meaningless youtube or wikipedia link that has been put together by somebody as clueless as you, we're just going to look at it and say "same as unrealistically usual."

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 1:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

loonpt's comments here have considerable merit. It is atrocious that in a place where 1000's of people gather regularly that there is a scarcity of public bathrooms. Pure punishment of certain taxpayers by the government (taxpayer who certainly pay sales tax, gas tax, income tax, and their landlord's property tax). And the environment suffers too.

One should plan safety mitigations for *reality*, not for hopeful wishes as to what behavior might be.

A lot of public health organizations have a combination of behavior modification and accepting reality and mitigating its effects.

It sure would be nice if 18-20 year olds never drank to excess. Efforts to get to that goal sure help. But we also know that the constitutional amendment that banned alcoholic beverages in the 1920's failed miserably.

Tom Kleveland at the old News-Press suggested what he called a `Ha-Ha' fence, dug in below the line of sight, to mitigate the danger, while not ruining the view.

pardallchewinggumspot (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 1:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sorry dear Blah, but I am witness to both Loon's residency in IV and his continued participation in the IV scene.
On the surface it might be a headscratcher as to why there are no public restrooms, but not if you think of the variety and volume of potential users and their varying states of mind. In addition if you think we have a problem with intoxicated people falling off cliffs, wait til they start falling head first in porta-potties.
Kleveland had a reasonable idea.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 1:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

there are mods available for people who are double-X too.

pardallchewinggumspot (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 1:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Do we know she fell, jumped, or was pushed? Apparently not. Sad story of too young a bright star to have vanished from the sky so early in life. Condolences to family and friends.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 1:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I have witnessed police officers heading towards cliffs with flashlights in hand more than likely going after public urinators literally hundreds of times. We used to have 'watches' for cops when somebody had to urinate in public. It wasn't often anybody got caught, but it is such a lame and embarrassing thing to get caught doing.

In fact, my very first weekend in IV as a freshman I met two very nice pretty girls on del playa and started walking and talking with them, we really hit it off and were going to look for parties and hang out. They asked me to watch for cops as they went to use a restroom in an alley. No cops came by me, but there were cops on the neighboring alley who saw them and next thing I knew I looked over and saw flashlights spotting on them and it was too late, they were busted. They were freshmen too and ended up having to drop out of school over the whole thing. What a waste, all that work to get into school just to drop out due to such a stupid thing. If there had been bushes and a cliff next to them and they knew what was going to happen, you have to wonder if they wouldn't have tried to get away as well.

Stop harassing students, leave IV alone!

loonpt (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 2:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Moral of loons tale of woe. As a lookout, loon is not the one to use.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 3:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I thought I explained that the cops snuck around the back? Plus it was my first weekend in IV, give me a break.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 3:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You're still at a loss looners and that loss is reality.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 3:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You're the one with the deranged reality thinking that you some how have the ability and the right to use violence to change the way young people interact and relate with each other. Get a clue, kids aren't going to stop drinking, partying and doing drugs, EVER, you can't make them stop. They aren't any worse these days than they were decades ago, if anything they are more sheepish today.

Let them have their "zone" in IV and leave them alone. If you don't like IV, then don't go there.

Using violence (police) to solve the problem is your solution and that is only going to continue to cause more violence and tragedy.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 4:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yeah, so you lewt them run amok and watch what happens. Oopsie! We already did that you jackhole, it doesn't work. Get off your wannabe libertarian fantasy there loons, you're still NOT IN THE KNOW!

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 5:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

When did we "leave them alone" exactly? They've been sending the National Guard to IV since the bank burnings...The bank burnings were over a curfew which was over protesting against a war where we were slaughtering people en masse on the other side of the globe. If Russia attacked our country and some University students in Russia burned down a bank to protest attacking the US, what would you think of them? If Jews burned down a bank in Germany to protest Hitler invading Poland, what would you think of them? Banks are owned and run by banking families who control the government, they aren't a corner sandwich shop owned by your nice neighbor Frank. The big banks are the ones who profit from war, their infrastructure would be a morally valid target, although I don't recommend actually attacking a bank as you will likely be slaughtered like the guy who tried to put out the fire at the bank and was murdered by cops (and subsequently the cops lied about it of course).

They had a curfew in IV during the bank burnings and the police have always had a heavy hand in that community... and you have the lack of wherewithal to claim that "we have tried leaving them alone"? Ridiculous. Seems like the National Guard or the riot police are there about once a decade, and it seems like the provocation for that comes from law enforcement.

So why not try ACTUALLY leaving them alone instead of your whole thing where you pretend they are being left alone, but actually not?

loonpt (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 5:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If by leaving alone, loonpt means not using aggressive tactics to curb underage drinking, I agree with him. It would be great if they could get out of their desk chairs, leave their cop cars, and walk around for a change. That is why they are called Foot Patrol, right? Interract with the residents during the day time. Maybe introduce themselves. Leave a card so the residents can contact them if something goes wrong.

I teach a lot of undergrads and I have found that making them feel like you are cutting them a break (even though you are not) or talking with them on a personal level goes a long way. They respond well to that sort of stuff. Maybe writing the students up for a ticket them ripping it up would change the student's attitude towards police and create a better atmosphere.

Also, what about all the permanent residents on the west end of IV? They are totally neglected and they have to deal with some of the worst issues facing IV. I have heard about some pretty weird stories down there, and when they call the police, no one ever comes out. I'm speculating, but my guess is that if it doesn't have to do with the party scene, it's not worth their time because that's where they get all of their money from these ABC grants and such.

laxer (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2014 at 7:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

BlahBlah - seriously man what is your deal? All i see from you is anger, badmouthing people, and saying how terrible IV is. This is an article about a young life being lost - not a forum about how IVers have lost their way. Sure loon goes over the top sometimes - but his heart is near the right place. Have you ever lived in IV? and if so what was your experience like?

CHARRIStheBOSS (anonymous profile)
May 6, 2014 at 10:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

CHarris, YES, I lived in IV, was involved in the cityhood, worked with the plover preservation, Environmental Affairs Board, still have vested interests there, go there quite a bit and can tell you with 100% accuracy that loon's "opinion" of the IV situation is 100% inaccurate.
I never said IV is terrible, just the behavior of some of the residents passing off as students..
My experiences in IV were always great, no hassles from cops, hit many parties, did my share of illegal stuff (pot, shrooms, hash, nothing more than that), but here's the difference: DISCRETION!
If you're KNOWINGLY doing something illegal then WHY DRAW FIRE IN YOUR DIRECTION?
That's what you have now, a bunch of seemingly "educated" individuals that think they can do whatever because at home they probably got away with everything they could and entitlement is all they know.
IV is an awesome place, still surf Jailhouse, hit many of the eateries there, have made MANY young friends there. Want to know something? They actually agree with what I say.
They've read my posts here, as well as loon's, and they agree that loon's stuff is just ridiculous.
They seem to feel it feeds the stupidity of those who WANT to harm IV. This "leave IV alone" whine in itself is the laughing stock of many young IV residents.
By the way, anger isn't what I feel, it is disgust. I knew this wonderful young lady from Java Station. There was always a sparkle in her eyes that said she was one of the good people. Now she's gone and none of us can get her back in our lives.
I feel disgust at the attitude of uncaring and disregard. For a place that claims to have a population of "environmentally conscious individuals" you have a trash heap of cigarette butts, solo cups, broken bottles, all kinds of crap littering the place.
The best thing that can actually happen there is what's going on with buildings such as the Icon, luxury apartments with shops underneath that'll weed out the riffraff.
Another good thing is the cameras going up. Now the cops can see who the problem children are when it comes to identifying they have their likeness caught on candid camera.
I was in IV just last Friday night, saw the IV Foot Patrol doing their rounds and have to say that it felt good to see the cops making their presence known. Want to know something? Many people came up to the cops and ACTUALLY THANKED THEM FOR BEING THERE.
I moved from IV in the early 2000's, saw my block go from normal to ghetto overnight. Funny how many people from IV that lived or still live there say the same thing.
Once that happened and saw how the cityhood proposal flunked I figured it was time to move to The Good Land.
Problem solved right? Nope, douchetopia came and every idiot from everywhere else blocked the streets, took up parking, just made a mess.
As a parent, do I want my kid going to that social craphole? Chances are I'll probably lose my kid to some random event that'll take the kid's life. I hope this gives some answers.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
May 6, 2014 at 1:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"If by leaving alone, loonpt means not using aggressive tactics to curb underage drinking, I agree with him."

Yes, that's what I mean. If IVFP remained respectful of residents (some are to some degree but I don't believe any are completely) and simply were on the lookout for people being hurt and responding to residents who actually asked for their help then that is fine.

In fact, I have an even better alternative since some people think that UCSB should help foot resources for IV's student party scene, why not have primarily CSO doing patrols who can communicate to IVFP if something needs responding to so IVFP doesn't need to have as many patrols? You have a couple cops on bikes on patrol and they could respond to something called in by CSO in less than a minute. CSO can also help walk female students home safely and can become a more trusted organization actually looking out for the students' safety.

blahblah, I have a REALLY hard time believing that you know anybody in the 18-22 range in IV who shares your views about police doing everything they can to crack down on the party scene by being heavy handed on underage drinking, noise ordinances and bringing in riot gear over one kid who got in a fight. I knew hundreds of kids in IV when I lived there, and none of them respected the cops. None of the kids I know who live there now or who have lived there recently respect the cops or their tactics on underage drinking. Any time somebody was being arrested, it didn't matter what it was for, people always sneer and say something like "fing pigs.." because they know most likely they are being arrested for something that shouldn't be against the law. If they didn't have that reputation they would have more respect.

I can certainly understand that there may be students in IV who are wary of the crime and property damage element of IV and/or deltopia and want something done about that, but I just can't imagine there being many students who share your views on combating underage drinking in college, it is just a ridiculous notion, especially at UCSB.

In fact, many would argue that the cops would be able to focus on actual crimes if they spent less time arresting people for drinking in public and peeing in bushes.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
May 6, 2014 at 2:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Want to know what you REALLY have a hard time w/ loony? REALITY. Also accepting the truth.
Coming from the buffoon who made the claim "I am more educated than you" it is evident that your lack of sense of reality & skewing of the truth have truly affected what you propose as a solution or anything for that matter.
All you do is sound like those same idiots in IV that get pissy when they don't get their way because after all, mommy and daddy's coddling and consistent bailouts enabled them to be the douchy people they are.
In your case it is the excessive war while high on drugs that skews your sense of what's real and makes the paranoid stoner come out full force.
Get over it junior, you ain't got NOTHING on me and your lack of reality further proves it. Sorry kid, it's IV, not fantasyland.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
May 7, 2014 at 11:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

pardallchewinggumspot (anonymous profile)
May 10, 2014 at 10:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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