La Jolla Crime and Public-Safety News: March 27 - Murder solved after 40 years; 3 assaults reported last week; Liquor store robbed; Man sues city and scooter-maker over crash

To report a non-emergency crime: Call the San Diego Police Department at (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154. In an emergency, dial 9-1-1.

To report a non-emergency crime: Call the San Diego Police Department at (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154. In an emergency, dial 9-1-1.

(La Jolla Light File Photo)

La Jolla murder solved after 40 years

The San Diego Police Department’s Cold Case Unit solved a murder that took place in La Jolla 40 years ago by partnering with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office Cold Case Unit and the FBI’s Investigative Genealogy Team, and using public access genealogical databases.

According to police reports, on March 21, 1979, the murdered and bloody body of Barbara Becker was found in her La Jolla home. Becker was a 37-year-old wife and mother of two boys, ages 7 and 9. She sustained numerous sharp force injuries and based on the evidence at the scene, she put up a tremendous fight for her life.

The evidence also indicated the suspect was injured in the attack, as there was a blood trail left behind.

“Homicide investigators worked to solve the murder, but eventually all of the investigative leads were exhausted and the case went cold,” read press material. “As with all cold-case homicides, evidence is routinely compared to emerging forensic technology. At the time of Barbara Becker’s murder, only blood typing was available. When DNA became an accepted forensic technology, the suspect profile developed from the crime scene was uploaded into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), but no matches were found.”


In October of 2018, San Diego Police Department’s Cold Case Unit revived the investigation with other cold-case units. Over the course of the investigation, they identified direct family members of the suspect, who voluntarily provided DNA samples for comparison to what was collected in 1979.

“Paul Jean Chartrand was identified as the source of the blood from the crime scene,” police report. “Family members confirmed Chartrand lived in the San Diego area at the time of Barbara Becker’s murder. During the investigation, it was learned that Chartrand died in Arizona in 1995. Chartrand had a previous arrest the year prior in Los Angeles, which would have made him subject to DNA testing, and his DNA profile legally suitable for upload into CODIS. However, he died prior to the full implementation of the database.”

The families of both the victim and the suspect have requested privacy following the announcement, but the police department stated it was “grateful the case has been solved, though it is tempered by the fact it took 40 years to give Barbara Becker’s family the answers they deserved and that Chartrand was able to avoid justice for 16 years after Barbara Becker’s murder.”

Three assaults reported last week

Police are reporting three cases of assault over two days in La Jolla: two physical altercations and one digital threat.


In the first, reported 2:25 p.m. March 15 on the 5700 block of La Jolla Hermosa Avenue, an unknown white male punched a bicyclist in the arm. The cyclist then fell onto a parked car and sustained abrasions to his left arm and fingers. The suspect fled and is not in custody.

About 36 hours later, around 2 a.m. March 17 on the 2500 block of Torrey Pines Road, an altercation took place between two people in a motor home. The suspect shoved the victim into a cabinet, and the victim sustained a small laceration on their head. The suspect was arrested and issued a misdemeanor citation for battery.

The third report involved a suspect digitally threatening a victim on the 200 block of Coast Blvd., who reported the incident to police 2:37 p.m. March 17. Police say an unknown suspect contacted the victim via text message and requested she comply with their request to alter her phone settings. The suspect presented personal information about the victim and her associates, then made multiple threats followed by a video in which two firearms were brandished. No one is in custody and the identity of the suspect is unknown.

Liquor store robbed

The Dick’s Liquor Store at 737 Pearl St. was robbed around 11 p.m. March 18. Police report an unknown male used an object to smash the glass door, then entered the business and took cigarettes.

Man sues city, scooter-maker over crash in PB

The City is facing a lawsuit filed by a disabled man who said he was injured when teenagers on an electric scooter lost control and caused a bicyclist to slam into his wheelchair on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach last July.

Plaintiff Richard Pearson is also suing the scooter manufacturer, Bird, over the incident during which, he said, he sustained bruising to his torso, ribs, left knee and left arm.

The suit was filed in San Diego Superior Court last week.

Pearson uses an electric wheelchair. He said in the suit he was riding on the right side of the boardwalk near Pacific Beach Drive when two girls, ages 12 and 14, on a scooter suddenly crossed over the center line of the boardwalk and into Pearson’s path.


The scooter caused a cyclist to veer away and then crash into Pearson’s wheelchair. That’s when he got injured, the suit says.

The lawsuit largely blames Bird for not establishing “geofencing” — a technology that can limit the speed scooters travel at in designated areas — and not having a speedometer on the vehicle.

The suit contends the City is liable for creating a dangerous condition on public property. It blames the City for not having regulations in place that would require geofencing, speedometers and signs warning pedestrians that the boardwalk was also used by scooters, whose speed could not be monitored.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer has since proposed a number of rules that would regulate the scooter industry — including requiring geofencing in various areas in the city, including the boardwalk where Pearson was hurt.

Restaurant to pay $34,500 for not disclosing surcharge

The Paradise Point Resort has agreed to pay the city of San Diego $34,500 to settle a legal claim that one of its restaurants had been misleading customers by not clearly disclosing a surcharge it was levying on diners’ bills to cover increased labor costs stemming from minimum wage hikes to $12 an hour.

The settlement comes more than a year after San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott filed a civil enforcement action targeting the Mission Bay resort’s Barefoot Bar & Grill, alleging that the waterfront eatery failed to “conspicuously” display the dining surcharge and then only added it to menus in extremely small print after Elliott sent a warning letter in August.

By not clearly alerting consumers to its 3 percent surcharge prior to ordering, the restaurant effectively advertised prices that didn’t reflect the true cost of items to customers.

While the Barefoot Bar was one of 11 restaurants that previously received letters from the City Attorney’s Office alleging violations of California’s False Advertising and Unfair Competition Law, the other establishments either opted to stop using the surcharges or began complying with the law by more clearly disclosing the levies. No legal action was taken against them.


Paradise Point area managing director Michael Stephens released a statement March 22, saying: “We were pleased to have settled this issue with the City last year, and while one of our many menus we offer our guests had a clerical error for a short period of time, we are also pleased to share that we have taken measures to ensure that this issue would not happen in the future.”

The City Attorney’s office said most of the $34,500 settlement will go toward a public restitution fund used for consumer education and future minimum wage and surcharge investigations.

Police Blotter

Feb. 20

Adult in possession of marijuana, on grounds during school activities, 700 block Nautilus St. 1:16 p.m.

March 3

Fraud, 900 block Opal St. 11 p.m.

March 5

Fraud, 900 block Van Nuys St. noon

March 6

Residential burglary, 5400 block La Jolla Blvd. 5 p.m.

March 13

Petty theft, 7800 block Herschel Ave. 3 a.m.

Vehicle break-in/theft, 900 block Muirlands Vista Way, 10 p.m.

March 16

Rape, (police could not release details about this case), 2200 block Avenida de la Playa, 1:30 a.m.

March 19

Residential burglary, 4900 block Ocean Blvd. 7:15 a.m.

Residential burglary, 4900 block Ocean Blvd. 11:50 a.m.

Possession of unlawful paraphernalia, 5100 block Mission Blvd. 2:48 p.m.

Possession of unlawful paraphernalia, 5100 block Mission Blvd. 3:19 p.m.

Possession of unlawful paraphernalia, 5100 block Mission Blvd. 3:35 p.m.

March 20

Use of controlled substance, 800 block Kline St. 2:15 p.m.

March 21

Residential burglary, 7800 block Prospect St. 10 a.m.

Vehicle break-in/theft, 1400 block Vue de Bay Court, 4 p.m.

Vehicle theft (felony), Camino del Oro at El Paseo Grande, 5:15 p.m.

Petty theft, 5800 block Desert View Drive, 11:09 p.m.

March 22

Vehicle break-in/theft, 8300 block Camino del Oro, 10 a.m.

Petty theft, 800 block Turquoise St. 12:25 p.m.

Disorderly conduct: Alcohol, 600 block Westbourne St. 2:35 p.m.

Petty theft, 700 block Turquoise St. 5:05 p.m.

March 23

Fraud, 1000 block Prospect St., 2 p.m.

Petty theft, 7200 block Via Capri, 10:30 p.m.

March 24

Vehicle break-in/theft, 600 block Carla Way, 3 a.m.

Compiled by Ashley Mackin-Solomon from San Diego Police reports and others

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