Caption: Alyosius Winthrop James | Credit: Courtesy

Aloysius Winthrop James, a 57-year-old Georgia man, pleaded not guilty to the cold-case murder of Ofelia Sandoval at the Town Center Motel in Santa Maria 36 years ago. A statement released last Monday by Santa Barbara District Attorney John Savrnoch announced that charges had been filed against James — who was arrested at his Georgia home in April — for the 1988 murder of the 30-year-old woman.

The cold case remained open and active since Sandoval’s murder three decades ago, leading to an arrest warrant being served at James’s residence in Gainesville, Georgia, by the Santa Maria Detective Bureau. The Detective Bureau received assistance from the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office, the San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s Office, the Gainesville Police Department, Hall County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team, and the FBI Task Force–Gainesville. James was subsequently extradited to Santa Barbara County, where he remains in custody without bail.

James, a Santa Maria resident at the time, faces one count of first-degree murder and was additionally charged with a special circumstance by DA Savrnoch for murder committed during the commission of rape. James entered a plea of not guilty to the charge and denied the special circumstance — his next court appearance is scheduled for July 30. 

“Detectives believe there may be other unreported crimes and additional victims related to James involving threats, sexual assault, domestic abuse, and other crimes,” Santa Maria police stated in a press release. 

Anyone with additional information on the 1988 murder or other potential crimes involving James are asked to contact Santa Maria Police Detective Nate Craven at (805) 928-3781, x1610, or

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