Jogger finds body of woman on Santa Rosa sidewalk
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 7:44 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 8:42 p.m.
A jogger early Thursday morning found the body of a 24-year-old woman who was stabbed to death and left on the sidewalk of Santa Rosa's busy Fourth Street.
Police said the body likely had been on the sidewalk for only a few hours before being discovered at 5:21 a.m. The night before, hundreds of trick-or-treaters had thronged the McDonald Avenue neighborhood across the street.
Police identified the victim as Michela Wooldridge, who recently moved from Humboldt County and was possibly homeless.
Wooldridge was stabbed multiple times, but there was no indication of a robbery or sexual assault, police said.
No suspect had been identified, Police Sgt. David Linscomb said.
"It's a little bit unsettling," said Todd Bertolone, co-owner of Bertolone's Reality, where Wooldridge's body was found in front of the driveway. "It's sad, is what it is."
No one interviewed had been allowed close enough to the body to determine whether they had ever seen Wooldridge before. Homeless people do pass along Fourth Street, they said, some likely camping on nearby Santa Rosa Creek.
"I hope they catch whoever did this," said Donnailla Johnson, owner of Icon Hair Studio.
The crime scene drew significant attention Thursday morning from passers-by headed to work and school -- some able to see the body before police shielded the view of the crime scene with tarps.
Others, mostly eastbound motorists squeezed into a single lane to get past police cars, peered curiously toward the makeshift wall of tarps and canvas awnings set up to provide some privacy.
Linscomb said Wooldridge was found sprawled across the sidewalk on Fourth Street near Leland Street, just east of College Avenue, by the runner out for an early morning jog.
The body was face-up in a parking lot driveway separating The Lamp and Shade Shop and Bertolone Realty.
An ambulance crew called to the scene found Wooldridge dead with "injuries consistent with stab wounds," Linscomb said in a statement.
He said investigators found no weapon, no signs of a struggle nor anything else "that was related to how she died."
He said Wooldridge likely died in the early morning hours and had not been on Fourth Street more than a few hours because otherwise she would have been spotted earlier because of the heavy traffic on Halloween night.
He said he couldn't speculate on whether she died at the scene or elsewhere, although yellow police tags were placed near what appeared to be bloodstains on the sidewalk near the lighting shop's recessed entrance a few feet from the body.
Wooldbridge was wearing a white jacket and plaid, possibly flannel, pajama bottoms.
When Steve Totemeier showed up at 6:30 a.m. Thursday for his shift at Keith's & Don's Union 76 station, he saw the police cars and thought someone might have broken into the lamp shop.
Later, when he learned of Wooldridge's death, he thought back to another slaying that police investigated almost exactly 13 years ago directly across the street from the filling station.
A longtime employee at what was then Hall's Executive Gifts and Awards on Fourth was found stabbed to death in the shop's parking lot on the morning of Oct. 27, 1999. A developmentally disabled co-worker pleaded no contest to the slaying in 2000.
A Goodwill store now occupies the space, with Hall's shop operating behind it on Stanford Street.
"It just reminded me of that one," Totemeier said.
You can reach staff writers Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or mary.callahan @pressdemocrat.com and Robert Digitale at 521-5285 or robert. digitale@ pressdemocrat.com.
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