Ridgecrest murder suspect released

DA withholds charges pending autopsy report of wife, alleged victim

Ridgecrest murder suspect releasedBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Kern County District Attorney’s office chose not to file charges against William Fordham – arrested Sept. 22 for the alleged murder of his wife – pending an autopsy report of the deceased, Margarita Fordham, 33.

Officers of the Ridgecrest Police Department responded to the Fordham residence at 516 N. Scott St. on Saturday afternoon where they reportedly found the deceased woman, later identified as his wife Margarita.

According to Sgt. Anthony Brown, Fordham’s parents arrived at the residence and reported the incident. The 41-year old Fordham was still at the home when law enforcement arrived.

“Based on the circumstantial evidence at the time, he was arrested and booked,” said Brown, who said police uncovered “significant information” to implicate Fordham in the suspected homicide.

But earlier this week, the Kern County District District Attorney’s office rejected the first-degree murder charge pending the wife’s formal autopsy report. Fordham was reportedly released from jail on Tuesday.

According to DA Lisa Green’s Administrative Assistant Christy King, Green could not comment on the decision.

“They’re waiting to file because they want the coroner’s ruling on the death first,” said RPD Chief Jed McLaughlin. “Once the coroner completes the formal report, the charges will be resubmitted.”

McLaughlin added that a suspect’s release while waiting on autopsy reports isn’t a rare occurrence, even in a homicide case.

“It’s just the way the DA operates,” he said. “It depends on the injuries. They might not be comfortable going to court before the report is ready. When it’s not a shooting or anything like that, the injuries can be unclear.”

It’s unclear when the final autopsy report will be complete. According to Brown, the case was “5th or 6th in line” at the coroner’s office behind several Bakersfield murders.

Story First Published: 2018-09-26