Credit: Santa Barbara Police Department

[Update: March 14, 8:30 p.m.] A man was arrested on upper State Street in connection with the death of a woman this morning. The death is being treated as a homicide.

Detectives arrested the man, Gabriel Jose Zepeda, 46, on the 2900 block of State Street and linked him to the crime scene using the ankle monitor he was wearing as well as evidence at the parking lot where the woman was found. Police state he is a transient, which is also how they describe the decedent, a woman in her forties or fifties whose next of kin are being notified.

Zepeda is being held on $1 million bail for homicide and robbery. Detectives learned he had been released from jail on March 10, 2022; the past charge is unknown at this time.

[Original Story] A woman whom police believe was homeless was found lying in a business parking lot on the first block of State Street, across the boulevard from Stearns Wharf, at around 7:40 a.m. this morning. The officers and paramedics on the scene determined the woman was dead; she was in her late forties or early fifties, reported Sergeant Ethan Ragsdale, spokesperson for Santa Barbara Police Department.

Police believe hers to be a suspicious death, and detectives and forensics are on scene. Ragsdale could not say why the death was regarded as suspicious, but adding that they had to close Santa Barbara’s main street at the beach for a good reason: “We want to treat this death with the utmost importance with all investigators on scene rather than potentially ruining the evidence by not having detectives and the forensics unit at the scene.” State Street has been closed between Cabrillo Boulevard and Mason Street all Monday morning and is likely to remain closed into the afternoon, Ragsdale said.

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