SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was arraigned today for the special circumstances murder of two women and setting fire to the victim’s house after removing the bodies. Christopher Ken Ireland, 37, Huntington Beach, was charged on Jan. 4, 2017, with two felony counts of special circumstances murder with sentencing enhancements for multiple murders, one felony count of arson of an inhabited property, and one felony count of aggravated mayhem. If convicted, Ireland faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without parole. He is being held withoutbail and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Feb. 16, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. in Department W-1, West Justice Center, Westminster.
In the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 2017, Ireland is accused of attending a New Year’s Eve party at 59-year-old Yolanda Holtrey’s home in Westminster. At approximately 1:20 a.m., with his family waiting outside, the defendant is accused of murdering both Holtrey and her friend, 49-year-old Michelle Luke, inside the home by striking them each multiple times with a sharp instrument. Ireland is accused of disfiguring Luke’s ear during the attack. The defendant is accused of leaving the victims’ bodies in the home and driving away from the scene.
At approximately 3:00 a.m., Ireland is accused of returning to the home and lining his vehicle’s trunk. The defendant is then accused of dragging Holtrey and Luke’s bodies from the home to his trunk shortly before 4:30 a.m. Ireland is accused of using an accelerant to set fire to Holtrey’s home before driving away from the scene at approximately 5:00 a.m. The defendant is accused of driving to a dead-end road in Newport Beach and discarding the victims’ bodies in a vacant lot.
At approximately 5:30 a.m., neighbors called 911 to report the house fire. First responders put out the fire and noticed blood on some furniture and the floor inside the home. Accelerants were also located, prompting Orange County Fire Authority arson investigators and Westminster Police Department (WPD) to investigate the suspicious circumstances. Officers were not able to locate the homeowner or Luke.
On the morning of Jan. 2, 2017, WPD found the victims’ bodies in the lot in Newport Beach. Ireland was arrested later that day by WPD, who investigated this case.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Jim Mendelson of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.
Orange County District Attorney / Case # 17WF0007 / January 20, 2017