|This begins with the first article printed about Kali's whereabouts and continues up to the articles in part II|
|All articles & photos are © Ventura County Star,
© Los Angeles Times & © The Ojai Valley News
Search for Ojai teen intensifies
MISSING: Father joins 100 deputies, volunteers looking for Kali Manley.
By Bruce McLean
One hundred people spread out across the Ojai Valley on Wednesday afternoon, searching river bottoms, trails and roadsides for a barefoot, blond-haired and blue-eyed 14-year-old girl who disappeared Saturday night.
Kali Manley of Oak View was last seen at the Circle K store in Mira Monte late Saturday night.
Her father, Charles Manley, a teacher with the Oxnard school district, said he last talked to his daughter Saturday night when she said she would be spending the night at a friend's house.
"For some reason, she left the friend's house," Manley said. "This child has always phoned to tell me where she is. She has never not called."
Manley was last seen in a green pickup with two unknown males, said sheriff's department spokesman Senior Deputy Kim Garrett.
Investigators have no evidence of foul play, Garrett said, but also have no explanation for her disappearance.
"We just don't know at this point," Garrett said.
Since the girl's disappearance, the family has been "sitting around going nuts," Manley said.
Wednesday afternoon he was able to channel some of that energy, joining the sheriff's department's all-out search for his daughter.
After joining a team that combed the Dennison Grade, Manley returned to the command post at Nordhoff High School and within an hour was driving off with a team to search an area near Foster Park.
"I'm just doing what I'm told to do by the sheriff's department," he said.
By 4 p.m., 100 deputies and search-and-rescue volunteers, along with Manley's co-workers and friends, joined the search, some coming from as far away as Simi Valley.
"I heard it on the radio," said Paul Jorgensen of Oak View, a family friend. "I thought this was the least I could do."
The sheriff's department also brought in search dogs and two helicopters.
Manley's family reported her missing Sunday night.
The increased effort to find Manley on Wednesday came after investigators spent Monday and Tuesday talking with friends and family and still came up empty.
"We exhausted all the known leads," Senior Deputy Ed Tumbleson said.
Cold weather added to the urgency of the search.
"Due to the weather and the fact that she was not dressed for it, it's real important that we pull out all the stops," Garrett said.
Although deputies pulled civilians off the search about 8 p.m. Wednesday, deputies and search-and-rescue teams were expected to continue the search through the night if the girl was not found, Tumbleson said.
A $3,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to her return.
She is described as 5-feet-3-inches tall and was last seen wearing blue
jeans, a pink tank top and a black sweater.
|Searchers scour Ojai Valley
No clues yet to whereabouts of Oak View teen missing since Saturday
By Encarnaci--n Pyle
As authorities continued an intensive search for a missing 14-year-old Oak View girl, her father, Charles Manley, said he couldn't have gotten through Christmas Eve without support from the huge number of people who helped comb the Ojai Valley.
He spent the day with more than 150 searchers, the likes of which authorities said they had never seen before, scouring 100 square miles of terrain for Kali Manley, who disappeared Saturday night.
"We recognize the Christmas spirit," her father said. "It's been real nice to see all the people come out. I've got a lot of family in the hills of Ojai."
Search and Rescue teams, some in helicopters, sheriff's volunteers, people in the community and dogs met at Nordhoff High School at dawn and spent the day searching every nook and cranny of the Ojai Valley -- from Foster Park to the Upper Ojai.
"We're looking in canyons, creeks, riverbeds, washes, trails -- both bike and horse -- and gazebos," Senior Deputy Ed Tumbleson said. "We're leaving no leaf unturned. We're family people here, and there's no reason for a girl to go missing. It doesn't make any sense."
The Sheriff's Department is still treating Manley's disappearance as a missing person case, Tumbleson said. Charles Manley, 43, a teacher with the Oxnard School District, said he last talked with his daughter Saturday night, when she said she would be spending the night at a friend's house.
"She's a good kid," he said. "She has always called us, always called us and told us her whereabouts."
She was last seen late Saturday with two unidentified men -- possibly teen-agers -- in a green truck outside the Circle K minimart on Highway 33 across from Woodland Avenue in Mira Monte, police said. Manley is 5-feet-3-inches tall, weighs 103 pounds and was last seen wearing a black Adidas zip-down sweatshirt, pink tank top and jeans.
Tumbleson said the department has no reason to believe that Manley -- a blond-haired, blue-eyed freshman at Nordhoff High, whom friends characterize as "sweet, funny, but a little on the quiet side" -- ran away, but that sometimes teens take off for the darndest things.
"Getting a bad report card, being ordered to do chores, any little thing can sometimes set these little girls off," Tumbleson said.
Investigators, he said, have no evidence of foul play but have not ruled it out, and at this point are checking every and all possible leads, including unsubstantiated rumors.
A host of rumors, in fact, has been pouring in from psychics, friends of the family and well-meaning strangers. The lead detective on the case spent an hour to two hours Wednesday following up on 20 rumors or tips, none of which bore fruit, he said.
"Even our own dispatcher got caught up in a rumor," Tumbleson said. "Thirty minutes after she left work she called us to ask if we had really found the girl. ... Of course, we hadn't."
Another rumor circulating among Manley's friends is that she left her girlfriend's house Saturday to attend a party where she possibly met the two men with whom she was last seen at the Circle K.
Tumbleson said he didn't know if there were any truth to that rumor.
"We just don't know," he said. "We have no evidence either way to prove or dispel it. But my advice to parents is that if a child says he's going to a party or a friend's house, you need to do spot checks to make sure he's going where he says he is."
Among the searchers Thursday were several of Manley's friends who said they were compelled to spend their Christmas Eve looking for her because she was "someone who had touched their lives."
"She's trustworthy. She's sweet. She's a good friend," said Marissa Hernandez, 14, of Ventura.
"She's nice, sweet, funny, kind of quiet but not shy," said Tara Gustafson, 16, of Ojai. "She's somebody you turn to when you're not feeling good."
"She's not one to run away," added Faryn Kapala, 16, of Ojai. "She was too easygoing."
Outfitted in jeans and sweatshirts, the three teen-agers and two of their friends spent the morning searching the Ojai Trail from the fork in the road where highways 33 and 150 meet to Soule Park. They jumped into ditches, tromped through underbrush and used sticks to break open trash bags littered with discarded malt liquor and beer bottles.
"We'll keep coming back every day until we can find some clue that leads to our friend," Gustafson said.
Candlelight Prayer Service
The friends and family of Kali Manley of Oak View will hold a prayer service tonight for the 14-year-old girl who has been missing since Saturday night. The service is set for 7 p.m. at Libbey Park in downtown Ojai. Participants should take their own candles.
|Search Continues For Missing 14-year-old
by Lenny Roberts © 1998 The Ojai Valley News
The Ventura County Sheriff's major crimes unit has accelerated the search for 14-year-old Kali Manley, the missing Oak View girl who was last seen late Saturday night with two local men in their 20s outside the Circle K in Mira Monte.
Based at a sheriff's command post established at Nordhoff High School Wednesday, 75 civilian volunteers joined more than 90 sworn officers and Search and Rescue volunteers from Ojai, Camarillo and Fillmore in an intense ground and air search of the lesser-populated areas of the Valley.
Manley is described as being 5-foot, 3-inches tall, 110 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a dark sweatshirt, a pink tank top and jeans and may have been barefoot.
One of the men reportedly seen with Manley was arrested Monday morning at a Fulton Street residence for allegedly brandishing an unknown weapon at or near the Circle K at 1:20 a.m. Sunday morning, according to sheriff's officials, and was being held for questioning.
Officials said Manley was identified as the girl sitting between the two men in a green truck, which was found Wednesday morning parked in a driveway on Longhorn Lane on Persimmon Hill. It is believed that major crimes investigators have impounded the vehicle for possible evidence.
Although detectives aren't saying much about her disappearance, a source close to Manley said the missing girl spent Saturday afternoon Christmas shopping with her boyfriend and another boy, and that she was later dropped off at the Pegasus Street home of a girlfriend by the father one of the boys after she told him that she was invited there for a sleepover.
The source added Manley knew the man who was arrested as the brother of a female friend of the girl who was hosting the sleepover, and that Manley had recently moved to Oak View from Oxnard.
Sheriff's officials confirmed Manley's parents called the Pegasus house Sunday afternoon looking for their daughter after she failed to return home and were told by the sleepover hostess that Kali had left the housejust prior to the call an allegedly fabricated story that was later recanted.
As police officials and volunteers converged at the command post, a backpack was discovered behind the Nordhoff Stadium bleachers and a pair of shoes were found nearby. However, according to Sr. Dep. Kim Garrett, specially trained search dogs "did not hit on them," meaning the items probably did not carry Manley's scent.
Authorities said they plan to search for Manley around the clock in two, 12-hour shifts for at least the next three days. By Wednesday night, ground searchers had covered approximately 30 locations, including the Ojai Valley Trail from Von's Market to Foster Park; Highway 150 from Reeves Road to Dennison Park; the Boardman Road area off East Ojai Avenue; much of San Antonio and Thacher creeks; Meyer Road off Rice Road; the Ventura River bottom from Santa Ana Road to the Sheriff's Honor Farm; Besant Meadows and many other remote areas.
The search was expected to expand north on Highway 33 beginning Christmas
A $3,000 reward fund has been established by the family for information leading to Manley's return. The reward fund is expected to be enhanced by co-workers at the Ojai Valley Community Hospital, where Manley's mother, Holly, is a nurse, according to nurse Suzanne Burens.
Anyone with information regarding Manley's disappearance is urged to call the Ojai Police Department at 646-1414.
Ojai City Manager Andy Belknap shared in the concern for Manley.
|150 show up to hunt for girl
GIVING UP HOLIDAY: They search ditches, backcountry around Oak View for missing 14-year-old.
By T.J. Sullivan
Fourteen-year-old Kali Manley made more than 150 new friends for Christmas this year.
Little kids she's never met, like 9-year-old Austin McDonagh and his 12-year-old sister Sara, left their homes before 9 in the morning to help find her.
Then there was Hueneme High School student Liz Goodall and 17-year-old Josh Swallows, whom Manley might recognize from the hallways at Nordhoff High School. She couldn't have imagined that the upper classman she barely knew would give up his Christmas Day at home for her. Still, Swallows was there with dozens of other strangers.
Gregg Weeks, Kevin Arnolts, Travis Green, Tim Keough, Gary Douglas and his 13-year-old son, Josh -- they all gave the girl from Oak View their Christmas Day by hiking around ditches, wading through streams and walking along mountain roads to show her how much they cared.
But she didn't see any of it.
Manley, who was last seen a week ago in a green truck at a minimart near Ojai, still was missing late Christmas Day as search-and-rescue efforts were scaled down at sunset.
Ventura County sheriff's deputies, who have set up a command post at Nordhoff High, where Manley is a student, said they planned to resume the search with volunteers this morning, combing trails and roads from 9 to 5.
Fliers with the high school freshman's picture on them have been pasted on walls and set beside cash registers in markets throughout western Ventura County. A reward for information leading to her return was raised from $3,000 to $10,000.
Greg McDonagh, Austin and Sara's father, said he knew Manley when she was a little girl, but it's been so many years since he's seen her that recent photos were hardly familiar. McDonagh first became aware Thursday night that Manley was missing, so he and his family decided to spend Christmas Day looking for her.
"It's tragic any time of the year," McDonagh said.
After assignments were doled out by sheriff's deputies to more than 40 groups of volunteers, they got in their cars and pickups and fanned out to search.
Larry Swallows led a caravan of volunteers up Rice Road to search the area around a diversion dam. Each grabbed bottles of water and set out around and across the northern portion of the Ventura River, keeping in mind what police said Manley was wearing when she disappeared -- a black zip-down sweatshirt, pink tank top and jeans.
After tramping through the river near the end of Rice Road, Goodall and Arnolts were soaked through to the skin, but they didn't see any sign of Manley.
"It's worth doing," Goodall said as she waited for other volunteers to return to a checkpoint so they could move on to another area. "It reminds me of my friend when she ran away."
Goodall said her friend was gone for a week with a boyfriend.
"She came back and acted like nothing happened," Goodall said.
Arnolts scuffed his shoes on the dirt road and said he couldn't imagine what Manley's father, Charles, is going through.
"I can," Goodall said. "He's E worrying, wondering if she's cold or hungry.
"It's sad. She should be home eating a big old Christmas turkey."
|Man leads DA to body
Says it's missing girl in drainage pipe
By James T. Bernath
The massive weeklong search for a missing 14-year-old Oak View girl ended on a tragic note Saturday at mile post 44 on Highway 33.
A man questioned in the disappearance of Kali Manley led authorities to a drainage pipe in the remote Pine Mountain area where a body believed to be her was found.
David Alvarez, 22, of Oak View, has known exactly where the body was, and for several days his attorney, Louis "Chuck" Samonsky of Ventura, tried to get a promise from the District Attorney's Office that his client would not face the death penalty if he were convicted of murder in the case.
Around midweek, Samonsky said, he asked District Attorney Michael Bradbury a theoretical question about Kali, for whom the cause of death was not known Saturday. Although authorities believe the body is Kali's, they said positive identification has not officially been made.
Officials did not reveal any information about whether she suffered any injuries or any other information about what they found at the scene.
"I said, 'If I had such information (the location of the girl's body), could you give me a guarantee that there would be no death penalty in a capital offense conviction?' "
The DA gave a "final no" on Thursday, said Samonsky, a high-profile and longtime local attorney.
Samonsky knew for several days that Alvarez, who is in custody on unrelated charges, knew where Kali's body was but initially advised his client not to lead authorities to a crime scene in which they might find evidence that could be used against him.
After consulting with another legal source, however, Samonsky changed his mind and told Alvarez to lead authorities to the site, which Sheriff's Sgt. Chuck Buttell described as "very rugged country E with snow on the ground and ice on the road."
"David had been under pressure from his family; they didn't know for sure if he knew where the body was, but said if he did he should take police to it," Samonsky said.
On Saturday afternoon, Bradbury drove Alvarez and Samonsky to the Pine Mountain site, and a host of law enforcement personnel also drove up and flew by chopper.
"David took them directly to the body," Samonsky said. "It was in a drainage pipe under Highway 33 as you head north on the back side of Pine Mountain, maybe 10 miles from the peak. There is a large drainage pipe -- about 6 feet wide -- that goes under the highway." The area is in Ventura County, about 30 miles north of Ojai.
After the body was found, about 2 p.m., deputies drove Alvarez back to the Ventura County Jail. Samonsky said Alvarez said nothing during the drive to implicate himself in the crime but merely led authorities to the body.
Although Buttell said Alvarez is not being held in connection with Kali's death but rather on unrelated charges -- making terrorist threats and brandishing a firearm -- his original bail was raised during the week to $250,000, Samonsky said. He said the terrorist charge occurred when he shouted some threats during "a happenstance meeting" with someone.
Reportedly, Bradbury informed Samonsky that his client is a suspect in the case, but officially, Buttell said, "There is no one in custody for this crime."
Alvarez and another man, who apparently has been questioned in the case but was not in custody as of late Saturday, reportedly were seen on the night of Dec. 19 with Kali in a green pickup truck near the Circle K convenience store in nearby Mira Monte.
Her father, Charles Manley, 43, an Oxnard school teacher, has said his daughter told him on Saturday night she would be spending the night at a friend's house.
As authorities began the process of investigating what Buttell said is now a homicide, the family of Kali Manley began dealing with its loss.
Shortly before 4 p.m. on the grounds of Nordhoff High School, which served as the command post during the search, Kali's uncle, Jim Manley, made a brief statement.
"On behalf of my brother and the Manley family, we're devastated at this time, at this news," Manley said. He thanked what he estimated to be more than 1,200 volunteers who turned out over the past seven days to help in the search "for our beloved Kali, a most wonderful girl." As he tried to continue, Manley was overcome with emotion and ended his statement.
Outside Kali Manley's home, a family friend said her relatives were inside but would have no comment for at least a couple of days.
A friend of Kali's stood nearby and listened as Kali's fate was announced.
"This is a really sad time," said Maureen Stoval of Oak View, who, like Kali, is 14.
Maureen had seen Kali briefly recently and the two former schoolmates had shared greetings. Kali was a freshman at Nordhoff High and Maureen was a freshman at Ventura High. She said they attended DeAnza Middle School together last year.
Maureen said her friend was "a person you could count on. She was really friendly, but she was shy. And she was trustworthy."
A few of the others who helped in the search also stood nearby and listened as Sgt. Buttell spoke. He estimated that 300 people per day helped in the search, which included helicopters, horses and dogs. At one point during the week, authorities said they would be searching more than 70 sites throughout the Ojai Valley. Officials said the area where the body was found was on the list and would have been searched soon.
Buttell spent considerable time praising what he described
as one of the largest search efforts with which he has ever been involved.
|Manley's death ruled homicide
CORONER: Official confirms body found in pipe was that of missing teen-ager.
By Catherine Saillant
Ventura County's medical examiner confirmed Sunday that a body found below a frigid mountain road was that of 14-year-old Oak View resident Kali Manley, while more details about a man being questioned in her death emerged.
Dr. Ronald O'Halloran said Kali's death has been ruled a homicide but disclosed no details of how and when she died. Sheriff's detectives requested that the cause of death be withheld one or two days while they finish their investigation, O'Halloran said.
Kali's family, meanwhile, spent Sunday grieving and organizing two memorial services for Tuesday -- what would have been her 15th birthday. The first will begin at 2:30 p.m. at Ojai Valley Community Church, 907 El Centro, Ojai, said Jim Manley, Kali's uncle.
A second service will take place at 3:30 p.m. at Nordhoff High School in Ojai, where Kali was a ninth-grader with an artistic flair. Manley said Kali's parents, Charles and Holly Manley, and her two sisters, 17-year-old Chelsea and 11-year-old Eliza, are struggling to get through each day.
"There are no words to say when a nightmare like this happens," a visibly shaken Manley said outside the family's modest home. "I have to admire this family's strength."
The family is requesting that donations to a trust fund to offset Kali's funeral expenses be made in lieu of flowers. The fund will be established today at Ojai Valley Bank in Oak View.
Up to 300 volunteers spent the holiday week scouring the hillsides, valleys and brush around the Ojai Valley after Kali's disappearance Dec. 19. She was last seen outside a Circle K minimart on Highway 33 in Mira Monte with two men in a green pickup truck.
No arrests had been made by late Sunday. David Alvarez, who has been in custody since Dec. 20 for investigation of making terrorist threats and brandishing a firearm, led searchers to the girl's body in a mountain ravine off Highway 33 about 30 miles north of Ojai on Saturday.
Sheriff's officials refused to comment on Alvarez's alleged connection to Kali's slaying or disappearance. But his attorney, Louis "Chuck" Samonsky of Ventura, confirmed that his client is being questioned in the case.
Alvarez, 22, of Ojai, was arrested Dec. 21 after getting into an argument with a woman. While he was in custody, investigators discovered he might have information about Kali's disappearance, Samonsky said.
A Superior Court judge raised Alvarez's bail to $250,000 after authorities filed an affidavit saying they believed Alvarez was one of the last people to see Kali alive, Samonsky said.
Alvarez led authorities to Kali's body after the failure of efforts to secure a deal with prosecutors in which he could avoid a death penalty if he were convicted in the case.
While declining to discuss his client's role in Kali's disappearance, Samonsky said Alvarez was motivated to help police out of concern for her family.
"When someone leads police to a body, one immediately wonders what part, if any, that person had in any foul play," he said. "That is a legitimate question."
But Alvarez's neighbors in Ojai portray the man they know as "Davi" in a darker light.
"How would I describe him? A bad attitude. A bad seed," said a clerk at the Ojai Locker Market, just down the street from a home in the 200 block of North Fulton Avenue where neighbors say Alvarez has stayed recently.
Another neighbor was more blunt: "I'm glad he's gone," said the woman, who asked not to be identified.
Court records show that Alvarez has been arrested on a variety of offenses over the past few years.
He pleaded guilty to a January 1996 count of battery and later that year to charges of theft and resisting arrest.
Alvarez was arrested and charged in August with inflicting corporal injury on his wife, from whom he is now separated, according to Samonsky. He pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial on that charge in January.
Alvarez contends that the only injury his wife suffered during that late summer argument was a small cut to her leg when she kicked a window out in frustration, his attorney said.
|Friend warned girl who was slain
Kali Manley: Details of her final evening are revealed.
By Amy Bentley and Bruce McLean
Late in the evening of Dec. 19, David Ramiro Alvarez's reputation as a violent man led a friend to warn 14-year-old Kali Manley not to get in his truck.
She got in anyway.
Later, in the parking lot of the Circle K, as Manley and his friend, Robert Miears, sat in his truck, Alvarez allegedly pulled a gun on a woman with whom he had an ongoing dispute.
He then allegedly took the girl to a nearby mobile home to drink and have sex. She was never seen again until Alvarez led investigators to her corpse Saturday.
As sheriff's investigators and court records on Monday revealed these details of Kali Manley's final evening, investigators also confirmed what had been obvious since Alvarez led investigators to Manley's body on Saturday -- David Alvarez is their prime suspect.
"We expect to have an arrest in 24 to 48 hours," sheriff's Major Crimes Capt. Mike Regan said during a press conference Monday morning.
Alvarez appeared in Ventura County Superior Court on Monday. He was charged with making terrorist threats and assault with a firearm for the gun-brandishing incident. An arraignment was postponed to Jan. 4 and Alvarez remains jailed with bail set at $250,000 while the murder investigation continues.
"He's upset," said Jay Johnson, a Ventura attorney serving as spokesman for Alvarez's parents. "He's crying, he's emotionally distraught, he's not sleeping. He's a mess."
Court records relating to that case, as well as Regan's statements during Monday's press conference, revealed the following details:
According to a court document filed last week in which sheriff's officials sought to raise Alvarez's $20,000 bail, trouble started the evening of Dec. 19 about 10:15 p.m.
Alvarez and a friend showed up at the Oak View home of Kim Schmelz, with whose daughter he apparently had an ongoing dispute. Alvarez stood by the garage while his friend knocked on the front door. Kim Schmelz's son answered the door and the friend asked for the daughter. The brother said his sister was not home. Alvarez allegedly told the brother he would return with his gun and "take care of him." Alvarez and his friend then left.
Sometime after that, Alvarez and Robert Miears went to the Ojai area home of 14-year-old Ashley Helfrich, a friend of Kali's, police said.
Kali had called her parents to let them know she was sleeping at Ashley's home after a small gathering of friends.
Ashley told police Alvarez and Miears came over and asked the girls to come outside.
"Ashley declined and informed the two guys her mother was coming home and they shouldn't be there. Ashley told Kali not to go out but Kali went out the door and met the two guys," the affidavit says.
Ashley said she went back to her room to watch television. When she checked the front of her house 15 minutes later, Manley and the two young men were gone.
It's unclear if Kali knew Alvarez or Miears. But Kali's and Ashley's friends knew Alvarez and knew his reputation for violence.
Alvarez is awaiting trial for suspicion of battering his estranged wife in the summer and has a prior conviction for resisting arrest.
"He had a real short temper," said Rebecca Harvard, 15, who stood outside Ashley's home Monday. "Everybody talked about violent things he'd done in the past."
About 12:15 a.m. the morning of Dec. 20, Kim Schmelz told police, she went to the Circle K store in Mira Monte. As she pulled in the parking lot, Alvarez drove in next to her, with Miears and a blond girl. In front of his two passengers, Alvarez made threats to Kim Schmelz about "getting her."
Schmelz told Alvarez to leave her alone and went in the store. She used her cell phone to call her husband and 9-1-1 to report the threats. As Schmelz pulled out of the parking lot, Alvarez did, too, and blocked Schmelz's exit.
Then Alvarez pointed a gun at Schmelz, told her she was history and said, "I'm going to take you down," the affidavit said. Schmelz drove off.
Miears -- who investigators say is not a suspect -- told deputies he, Alvarez and Kali had gone to the store and Miears went in to buy wine coolers. He said that when he got back into the truck, Alvarez said the woman in the next vehicle was calling the police and they needed to leave.
The trio then drove to the Ojai Oaks Village mobile home park. They entered the home at space 95, which Alvarez's parents were reportedly trying to buy for their son. Alvarez took Kali into the master bedroom, according to Miears. He said Alvarez and Kali were drinking wine coolers.
"David told Robert he was going to have sex with Kali. He asked Robert if he had a problem with that, did he want to stay or leave. Robert didn't have a problem with it and went to sleep. When Robert awoke that morning around 10 a.m., David and Kali were gone."
Miears told police that later that day, after Alvarez dropped Miears off at the Capri Motel in Ojai, Alvarez phoned Miears at the motel and said he'd left Kali at the Circle K.
Alvarez told police he had gone to the Helfrich house with Miears, picked up Kali, then drove to the Circle K. He initially denied going to the trailer but when confronted with Miears' statement, Alvarez told police he and Miears went there but Kali was not with them.
|Hundreds Gather For Kali's Memorial
Article and Photos by Lenny Roberts
1/1/99 The Ojai Valley News
As community outrage continued to mount against the attorney who withheld information that eventually lead authorities to the location of her body, hundreds of Ojai Valley residents joined family members, friends, classmates and others Tuesday in remembering Kali Manley on what would have been her 15th birthday.
Amid rampant rumors that have been circulating throughout the Ojai Valley since her body was found in a Maricopa Highway drainage culvert Dec. 26, Sr. Dep Coroner Craig Stevens said Wednesday that Manley died by asphyxia due to manual strangulation, thus confirming that she was murdered.
Visibly shaken at times while addressing an estimated 600 people at
the Ojai Valley Community Church in the first of two afternoon memorial
services, Chuck Manley eulogized his daughter as an adventuresome girl
whose laughter and silliness brought much joy to the family.
"Pain is the touchstone of life. We all experience it sooner or later.
Today, there's a whole lot of pain before me," Bergman began.
Manley's grandmother, Jackie Durschinger, said she purchased a candle
to give to Kali for Christmas.
In an open letter to the Ojai Valley community, Sheriff Bob Brooks thanked
the citizens and businesses that helped in the search for the missing girl.
As the Los Angeles television media waited politely outside the church, Kali's paintings and drawings stood in silent memory, waiting to be packed up and returned to the Larmier Street home of her family. Beside them were colorful flowers in three little vases simply addressed to "Mrs. Manley," Kali's mother, Holly.
Prominently displayed was a large board full of family photographs Kali had finished the day before she disappeared, presumably a holiday present to her family.
"It's truly awesome," Bergman stated. "Every picture has a personal
anecdote. It's an album that just exploded out at you with love and life."
Under the direction of Bill Wagner, the Nordhoff Choir closed the memorial service with "Amazing Grace."
Later, the mood was less somber at Nordhoff High School as hundreds of students and adults joined those who attended the church memorial to bid farewell to Kali. While some openly wept, others hugged and reflected on Kali's life.
"She had a good sense of humor and was really funny," said physical
education classmate Keri Hart, 16. "I'm here because I knew her and wanted
to pay my respects."
As more and more people arrived in the Nordhoff courtyard area, Chuck
Manley had a message for the youth of Ojai: "You are not to drink alcohol
or use drugs tonight. We need to send Kali off with a clear mind and clearspirit,
and I hope you would honor our family's wishes."
Jim Manley, Kali's uncle and family spokesperson during the massive
four- day search and rescue operation, requested that everyone at Nordhoff
write a personal remembrance of Kali on a small piece of paper. To "help
lift Kali's spirit," the papers were later burned along with candles and
Suspect's link to slaying no shock
KALI MANLEY SLAYING: Acquaintances say David Alvarez showed pattern of violence.
By Tamara Koehler
David Alvarez apparently had all the advantages -- wealth, a spacious family home in sight of the Topatopa Mountains, vicarious prestige in the community through his well-respected parents.
But all the trappings and opportunities did not save him from a life of crime and violence. And while many are shocked at the murder of 14-year-old Kali Manley, some say they are not surprised the prime suspect is "Davi" (pronounced Dah-vee) Alvarez, 22.
"When you use violence as a way to solve your problems or deal with people, then it's not that surprising to believe it could eventually lead to murder," said Ann Plusko, an aunt of Alvarez's estranged 19-year-old wife.
He gained his own brand of prestige among his friends in Ojai, teen-agers mostly who liked to drink and party hard. He was the tough guy, he had guns, he liked to fight.
And he liked younger girls.
There was Casey Schmelz, a pretty, waifish 15-year-old friend of his younger sister, Veronica. In the past year, Alvarez came onto her, hit her, and once put a gun to her head, she and her family said.
On the night Kali disappeared, Alvarez had showed up at Casey's house demanding to see her. Later, at the Circle K, he brandished a gun at Casey's mother in the parking lot and threatened, "I'm going to take you down," according to police reports.
There was a girl named Shawna, who was 15 when she met Alvarez four years ago, according to her aunt by marriage, Anita Jeffrey.
"He preyed on 14- and 15-year-old girls," said Jeffrey, who lives next door to the Manley family and often waved to Kali when she walked down the street. "He would ply them with alcohol and drugs; he introduced drugs to Shawna and used to beat her up. When her mother tried to put a stop to it, he threatened her."
And there was Brooke, with whom he has a 3-year-old son.
The two married after Brooke became pregnant at 16 three years ago. She dropped out of Nordhoff High School in the 10th grade to have her baby.
After their son was born, Alvarez continued his scrapes with the law, including stealing beers from the Circle K market and fleeing a police officer. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Casey Schmelz says Alvarez's parents sent the couple off to San Francisco, where they put them up in a house and gave Alvarez a job in the family's Supreme Chicken restaurant chain.
"They wanted him to straighten up and get away from this trouble," said Casey, who often talked about Alvarez's problems with his 15-year-old sister.
Veronica Alvarez became influenced by her elder brother and his friends, Casey and others said. The Alvarezes sent Veronica to a boarding school out of state this year, according to Jay Johnson, an attorney and spokesman for the family.
"They were not happy with some of the friends she was running around with and wanted to break that cycle," Johnson said.
As for their son, the Alvarezes "know where the warts are, but they love him and they are going to do what they can to help him," Johnson said.
Casey Schmelz said she believes that Alvarez's angry outbursts and violence frightened his parents.
"They were always trying to help him, even after he once stole their Suburban. They would buy him new stuff, a truck, whatever, to try and get him to come around."
The family owns a corporate chain of the restaurants and, according to Dun & Bradstreet financial records, the company's annual sales are close to $1 million.
Alvarez served his 30-day jail sentence in San Francisco through an agreement between the two jurisdictions.
But in early 1996, the couple moved back to Ojai and in with Brooke's mother, Mona Campbell. Shortly after, Alvarez was convicted of battering Campbell, court records show. He was again sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years' probation.
Finally, in August 1997, Brooke had had enough, her aunt said. She and Alvarez separated, but he repeatedly came to stay at Campbell's home, and threatened Brooke.
This continued for a year, until four months ago, when Alvarez spent the night at the house and "kept trying to force himself on me," Brooke wrote in a sworn affidavit supporting her request for a restraining order.
"He kept trying to kiss me and I kept resisting him, telling him no ... He pulled me into the bedroom and back onto the bed. He made it clear he wanted to have sex with me and I kept saying no.
"He was holding me on the bed by pushing on one of my shoulders. I was yelling for him to leave me alone, so he shut the bedroom window. In order to scare him off, I deliberately kicked the window out, cutting my heel and bruising the back of my leg."
Alvarez then went into the living room, where the couple's son was crying and saying, "Leave, dad. Leave mom alone," the affidavit states.
Brooke locked herself and the baby in the bathroom, but Alvarez broke in, grabbed her by the head and pushed her against a medicine cabinet. He then left and Brooke filed a police report.
"Brooke is getting on with her life now, getting her GED, and getting help from programs that help with this issue," said Plusko, who is helping her niece to get back on her feet.
In other court papers, Brooke Alvarez claims her husband has threatened her and her family, caused her to lose a job when he came to her workplace and hit a co-worker, and struck another male friend in the nose because the man liked her.
Brooke Alvarez filed for a divorce in August. Last week, a judge granted her a new restraining order and gave her sole legal and physical custody of their son.
This week, Alvarez will be arraigned on charges of brandishing a weapon and making terrorist threats to Kim Schmelz, the mother of young Casey. Sheriff's detectives are tying up their investigation of Alvarez before they present the case to the District Attorney's Office. Alvarez remains in jail with bail set at $250,000.
Those who knew Kali describe her as shy and sweet and unaware of Alvarez's reputation the night she stepped outside of the slumber party and into his green Toyota truck with him and his friend, Robert Miears.
The trio drove to the Circle K to buy a 12-pack of beer and then sped out of the parking lot after Alvarez allegedly threatened Schmelz with his gun.
Police say they then went to a mobile home that Alvarez's parents reportedly were arranging to buy for him. Miears told police he fell asleep on the couch after Alvarez took Kali into the bedroom to have sex with her. The next morning Miears woke up and they were gone. Alvarez later told Miears he dropped Kali off at the Circle K, police say.
Miears, who was staying at the Capri Motel in Ojai, refused comment this week and demanded that a reporter "get out of my face."
Tests are under way to determine whether Kali was sexually assaulted and whether drugs or alcohol were in her bloodstream at the time.
A week after her disappearance, Alvarez led detectives to her strangled body hidden in a drainage pipe in the mountains. He was weeping off and on as he gave directions, said Louis Samonsky, his attorney.
Meanwhile, the Alvarezes are sick with grief for the Manley family and their own son's potential involvement, Johnson said."You have two families completely destroyed overnight by this."
|Suspect Not Charged Yet in Teen's Death
By TRACY WILSON, Times Staff Writer
March 12, 1999
The prime suspect in the December slaying of 14-year-old Kali Manley of Oak View appeared in court briefly Thursday but has yet to be charged in the girl's homicide.
Attorneys for David Alvarez, 22, of Ojai say they expect the attorney general's office to file murder charges in the case. Local authorities completed their investigation nearly a month ago.
But Deputy Atty. Gen. Michael A. Katz said Thursday that state investigators are still reviewing the case. He declined to say when his office may file charges against Alvarez.
"We hope to do it soon; it's a serious case," Katz said, standing outside the Ventura courtroom in which Alvarez appeared on two unrelated cases being handled by state prosecutors.
Alvarez is charged with threatening a woman and brandishing a gun outside the convenience store in which he was last seen with Manley on Dec. 20, authorities said. That case was postponed to March 25.
He also faces a misdemeanor battery charge for allegedly assaulting his 20-year-old wife, Brooke, last August. That case is set for trial April 12.
A Nordhoff High School freshman, Manley disappeared after visiting a girlfriend's house the same night she was reportedly seen at the Miramonte convenience store with Alvarez and another man.
A weeklong search for the girl ended when Alvarez led authorities to her body, hidden in a drainage pipe near Pine Mountain in the Ventura County back country. She had been strangled, and authorities say she may also have been the victim of an attempted rape.
State prosecutors agreed Feb. 2 to take over the homicide investigation and Alvarez's other cases after Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury raised concerns about "the appearance of impropriety" if his office handled the cases. Bradbury has been friends with the suspect's parents, Eugene and Marie Alvarez, for several years.
By TINA DIRMANN, Times Staff Writer
Friday, March 26, 1999
Three months after he led authorities to the body of a missing Oak View teenager, David Ramiro Alvarez was charged Thursday with Kali Manley's murder.
In a brief court appearance, Alvarez, 22, pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted rape, charges that make the Ojai man eligible for the death penalty.
Authorities allege that Alvarez strangled Manley while trying to force the teen to have sex with him.
"We believe the murder was committed while the defendant was engaged in an attempted rape," said Bill Maile, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office, which is prosecuting the case.
Alvarez's attorney angrily denied that his client tried to rape the 14-year-old girl. "Not only was there no rape in this case," said James Farley, "there was not even an attempted rape. And not only should this not be a capital case, this should not even be a first-degree murder case."
Deputy Atty. Gen. Michael Katz, the prosecutor, said he has not decided whether to seek the death penalty and refused to speculate when a decision might be made.
Manley, a Nordhoff High School freshman, disappeared after visiting a friend's home on Dec. 20. She was last seen at a convenience store with Alvarez and another man, police said.
A weeklong search for Manley came to a close when Alvarez led authorities to her body, hidden in a drainage pipe near Pine Mountain in the Ventura back country. An autopsy showed Manley had been strangled to death.
Alvarez was arrested the day after Manley's Alvarez was arrested the day after Manley's disappearance on a separate charge of assault with a deadly weapon and has remained in jail since. Authorities say that during the stop at the convenience store, Alvarez pointed a gun at a woman with whom he had a long-standing feud.
Alvarez also faces a misdemeanor battery charge for allegedly assaulting his 20-year-old wife, Brooke, last August.
Prosecutors did not say why it took several months to file the murder charge. Sheriff's Department spokesman Capt. Keith Parks, however, said investigators were in no hurry, because Alvarez was already in jail.
"He was in custody; it was unlikely he would be getting out on bail," Parks said. "That gave us all the opportunity in the world to make sure we covered every aspect of this case before charges were filed."
Action was also slowed because the Ventura County district attorney's office first had to relinquish control of the case. Citing a concern over the "appearance of impropriety" because of his friendship with the suspect's parents, Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury turned the case over to the attorney general on Feb. 2.
Charles Manley, Kali Manley's father, said in a telephone interview that the length of time it took to file a murder charge made the family "a little bit concerned."
"But we just have every confidence the prosecutor is doing all the right things," Manley said. "We are happy that justice is proceeding."
Attorney Jay Johnson, representing the Alvarez family, said Alvarez's parents would not comment on the murder charges.
Alvarez is scheduled to appear before Superior Court Judge Edward Brodie on May 25 for a preliminary hearing.
By TRACY WILSON
Wednesday, April 7, 1999
Hoping to keep the memory of freshman Kali Manley alive, students at Nordhoff High School are launching a fund-raising drive to pay for construction of a campus memorial.
An Oak View resident, Kali, 14, disappeared Dec. 20 after climbing into a truck with two men she barely knew during a sleepover at a friend's house, authorities said.
David Alvarez, 22, of Ojai, led authorities to Kali's strangled body a week later in the mountains nearby. Alvarez has since been charged with murder and attempted rape.
"We decided to do this right after it happened," freshman Anna Masters said of the memorial. "We knew we had to do something to remember her."
The students want to build a covered trolley stop at the edge of campus, near the football stadium, that would feature a plaque with Kali's name on the inside.
They are also considering having a picture of Kali painted on the underside of the wooden shelter, which would serve as a stop for a trolley that transports people through the city.
Anna, a 14-year-old member of the Leo Club, the student group organizing the memorial, said organizers have come up with preliminary designs but are still seeking public suggestions.
They are also looking for financial backing and plan to hold a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Nordhoff High library to share their ideas and rally community support for the project.
For more information, contact Leo Club advisor Rick Carreon at 640-0562.
clues in girl's killing
MANLEY CASE: Affidavits, warrant returns show what led officials to David Alvarez.
By Bruce McLean
Published Tuesday June 22, 1999
On Dec. 23, the name of a 14-year-old blond-haired, blue-eyed girl was just beginning to become known outside a small circle of friends and family members in the Ojai Valley.
Sheriff's spokesmen told reporters and the public there was no evidence of foul play in Kali Manley's disappearance.
But as 100 people spread out to start searching for girl,
a judge was signing a search warrant affidavit that claimed Manley "may
have fallen victim to foul play" and detectives began a search of their
Alvarez is being held in Ventura County Jail while he
awaits trial in Manley's killing. He has been charged with murder during
the course of an attempted rape, which could make him eligible for the
death penalty. The state Attorney General's Office is prosecuting the case
because District Attorney Michael Bradbury knows the suspect's family.
Search warrant returns reveal that investigators found
a pink shirt matching the description of a shirt Manley was last seen wearing,
hairs in the back of Alvarez' pickup truck, numerous guns and ammunition
and an earring.
In a search warrant affidavit, Detective William Gentry
laid out the reasons investigators wanted to search Alvarez' home, his
truck, and a mobile home in which Manley was last seen alive.
On Dec. 22, Miears told investigators that he, Alvarez
and Manley had gone to the Circle K in Mira Monte early on the morning
of Dec. 20 and bought wine coolers.
While there, Alvarez took Manley to a bedroom and later
came out and told Miears he was going to have sex with Manley and asked
him for some cigarettes.
Miears told police Alvarez had used cocaine before picking
up Manley, but didn't know if he used any later.
With that information, investigators received search warrants,
which were executed on Dec. 23 and 24.
From Alvarez' truck, investigators took soil samples from
the tires, a piece of tar with strands of hair found stuck to the bed of
the truck, carpet and seat material samples and other debris.