Hundreds packed a community meeting hosted by the Carlsbad Police Department Wednesday night hoping to learn more about a deadly home invasion stabbing that that took their neighbor’s life.
Marjorie Gawitt, 63, was stabbed 50 times by two transients who broke into her home on Outrigger Lane at around midnight on March 11.
The crime was seemingly out of place for the quiet Carlsbad neighborhood, and the Carlsbad Police Department spent the following days reassuring residents that officers were “just a phone call away.” They also scheduled Wednesday’s meeting so that they could brief the community on the crime while also giving them an opportunity to honor their late friend Gawitt.
At the meeting, the CPD gave a detailed, minute-by-minute report of the crime and the ensuing investigation that led to the arrest of Ian Bushee, 37, and Malissa James, 26, hours later.
Clinging to life, Gawitt was able to call 911 just before 12:30 a.m.
CPD Lt. Greg Koran said officers arrived het her home less than four minutes later. The Lieutenant asked everyone to think of Gawitt's astounding bravery in that moment.
“I am extremely proud of the fortitude she had to give us a call after suffering this. And it was because of her efforts that got us there so soon,” Koran said. “Just for a second, if you just think about her and smile about what a wonderful thing she did for herself and for her family, it's truly remarkable.”
Bushee and James stole Gawitt’s car and made their escape before police arrived, but they were tracked back to a lagoon near the home and were arrested.
Neighbors at the meeting were armed with questions -- How can they protect themselves from similar crimes? How did Bushee and James into Gawitt’s house? Did she have an alarm? Did they break a window or door?
Officers couldn't answer everything, but they urged everyone that diligent reporting can be an effective crime-stopping tool.
“If you see something, say something,” they said.
Officers also advised residents to invest in security measures for their homes, like cameras or lights. Some meeting attendees told NBC 7 they are going straight to the hardware stores Thursday.
At least two dozen people shared stories with their fellow community members about homeless people on their property.
Time was allowed for Gawitt’s neighbors and friends to tell attendees, many of whom didn't know Gawitt, about the kind of woman she was.
“I did her facials and I gave her waxing for eight years,” one friend said. I know she loved her children. She loved her boyfriend who she lived with, and she loved her grandchildren that she adored so much.”