A dismembered body was found in a lake at Blacklake Golf Resort in Nipomo on September 21. | Credit: Courtesy Google Maps

The dismembered body found in a lake at Blacklake Golf Resort in Nipomo on September 21 was identified to be Joseph Martin Govey of Santa Maria by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office on Friday. 

Two people were arrested for the alleged murder on September 22: Kimberly Machleit, 35, and Donald Anderson, 37, both of Santa Maria. Sheriff’s detectives believe Govey was murdered, dismembered, and then dumped into the lake in December 2018. The victim and the accused knew each other, according to detectives. Machleit is being held on $2 million bail on murder charges; Anderson is held on $1 million bail as an accessory to murder.

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Govey was reported missing by his family to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in August 2019, stating that they hadn’t heard from him since late in 2018. The Santa Barbara Coroner’s Bureau identified Govey based on dental records, but authorities were not able to say how many body parts were in the lake or Govey’s connection to the alleged killers.

A person with the same name and age had been dismissed from a federal lawsuit in early 2018 due to a “jailhouse snitch scandal” in the Orange County jail. Govey’s was one of six cases dismissed by a federal judge after a sheriff’s deputy took the Fifth Amendment rather than incriminate himself. The deputy’s testimony was part of the government’s case against the defendants, Govey’s attorney Timothy Scott explained, but the judge found it difficult to give it credence if the deputy refused to testify. 

Govey was a one-time member of a white-power group called Public Enemy Number One Death Squad, the OC Weekly reported, and was long “the target of snitches and cops.” He’d been accused by police informants of narcotics possession and solicitation of murder. At the time of the trial, he’d been jailed for seven months for possession of 37 grams of methamphetamine and was also charged with counterfeit possession.

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