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December 2, 2023

Man, woman found dead outside Rodeway Inn

WATSONVILLE—A man and woman were found dead inside a van parked in the parking lot of the Rodeway Inn in Watsonville on Tuesday afternoon.

Watsonville Police Department Sgt. Juan Trujillo said police were dispatched to the Rodeway Inn on West Beach Street near Highway 1 just past noon to a report of a man and a woman down.

The man and the woman were pronounced dead at the scene. 

Trujillo said a crime investigation team is on route as well as the Santa Cruz County Coroner. Police established a crime scene in the parking lot just outside the door of the inn, which has served as a temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Trujillo said that the pair was found inside an older model blue and white Chevrolet van.

WPD Spokeswoman Michelle Pulido said that though the case is still under investigation, initial indications point to a drug overdose.

Pulido said that police believe the victims were from out of state. They had reportedly stayed at various shelters around the country recently. It was unclear if they had been staying at the Rodeway Inn.

Several people staying at the Rodeway Inn gathered to watch the scene unfold. About 15 officers from various agencies were still on the scene around 1pm.

This story will be updated

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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