Theresa Colosi sits in Santa Barbara County Jail without bail, accused of attempted murder and kidnapping. On top of that, this morning, the court granted two restraining orders against her, keeping her from contacting or being within 100 yards of four people, one of them her 12-year-old son. Her attorney, Robert Sanger, had petitioned the court to allow bail, but he withdrew the request during this morning’s hearing. The paper trail of that petition, however, lays out the details on how an orthopedic surgeon came to be accused of serious crimes.
Colosi left her medical practice in San Jose to move to Santa Ynez after the boy’s father, also an orthopedic surgeon, moved to Santa Barbara in 2018. Their son was born in 2007, but by 2010, his parents’ custody battle had become so “turbulent,” according to the District Attorney’s Office, that it required a special master to hash out the parents’ differences. Along the way, the DA’s papers state, Colosi lost custody entirely in March 2017; the filing cited several instances in which she’d either kept or intercepted her son, “willfully disregarding” court orders. She was allowed three-hour supervised visits twice a week.
One of those took place on December 8, 2019, in Goleta. Colosi met her son and the court-appointed visit supervisor at a coffee shop; then they agreed to go to Zodo’s Bowling & Beyond. Colosi had originally wanted to meet in a “rural and remote location,” but the supervisor felt uneasy about that, given how unhappy Colosi was with the visitation setup. The doctor had said she “can’t go on like this. I can’t do this anymore,” the DA’s opposition to bail states. After the trio parked, Colosi wanted to talk, so the supervisor told the boy to go ahead into the bowling alley, but Colosi told him to stay with them. About five minutes into the conversation, the supervisor related, she noticed Colosi holding a SodaStream oxygen cylinder in her hand. When Colosi shouted to the boy to get in her car, she turned her head to look. According to the court filing, Colosi slammed the cylinder atop her skull and then into the woman’s forehead and nose. Though Colosi tried to grab her son, the boy ran into the bowling alley.
In the DA’s opposition to granting bail, four people are quoted expressing fear of Colosi — from the boy’s attorney in the custody hearings, who said his office had a “safe action plan” for Colosi, to the child’s current principal, who said his school had no security officers. A family friend was concerned for the safety of the boy, his father, and a woman who is described as the father’s partner of 10 years. The three of them and the court-appointed supervisor were put under the protective orders, deputy district attorney Wes Meyer said, to ensure no contact occurred via phone or a third party, as well as personal contact.
During the investigation of the assault, sheriff’s detective Christopher MacAuley found that Colosi had chartered a flight out of Lompoc to Glacier Park International Airport near Kalispell, Montana, under false names for herself, her son, and her dog. Further, she’d cashed out her Lompoc bank account in the amount of $900,000. When she was arrested in Whitefish, MT, on December 11, she was carrying $4,000 in cash and two passports; Whitefish police found itineraries for Spain and Portugal during a search of the place where she’d stayed.
This morning, the young man’s father and partner sat in the the courtroom audience, talking occasionally with Wes Meyer about the delay as they waited for Sanger to appear. Once he did, Meyer audibly rebuked him for being late. Sanger asked him if he wanted to tangle so soon in the case, then explained he’d been waiting his turn behind public defenders to talk to prisoners in the two cubicles allotted. Colosi sat behind a glass window in one of the jail’s orange jumpsuits, watching the proceedings calmly.
Sanger asked the judge if he could sit with his client in the “fishbowl,” a separate windowed space for incarcerated defendants in Department 8. The judge, sitting in for Kip Anderson, denied the request for safety and corrections issues. She offered to let Sanger stand at the window on a telephone and microphone, which Sanger declined. He withdrew the request for bail, stating new documents, including a psychologist’s report, had only been given to him minutes before.
For Colosi, Sanger pled not guilty, denying all the special allegations in the District Attorney’s complaint. After the attorneys rejected holding the preliminary hearing setting before Judges Brian Hill and Thomas Adams, and despite Meyer’s assertion he would be recused in Department 11, the next meetup will be before Judge Von Deroian on January 2.
Correction: This story was revised on Dec. 28 to accurately describe the custody dispute and remove those named in the restraining orders.