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Vol.3, Issue 50, December 11-17, 2008

THE LATEST: John Needham was back in court December 5 for a pretrial hearing on the alleged murder of Jacqwelyn Villagomez, the woman who was found badly beaten inside the Needham family condo in Talega September 1. She died later that night, and Needham was arrested and later charged with murder.

Needham, 25, is a decorated and disabled Iraq War veteran who was discharged from the United States Army earlier this year after suffering posttraumatic stress disorder. Villagomez, 19, was a former high school track standout who had moved to Orange County to finish high school and start a new life.

The two met at a party last summer and Villagomez later moved into the Needham family home. Friends of the victim and Needham’s family said the couple’s relationship soured, and on September 1 an unnamed woman called 9-1-1 reporting a fight between herself and Villagomez. When deputies arrived they discovered Villagomez dying in one of the bedrooms and arrested Needham on suspicion of the beating.

Needham has remained in jail since his arrest. His father, Michael Needham Sr., remains convinced his son will be exonerated once the facts of that night come out in the courtroom. Incidentally, Michael Needham Sr. was charged with two misdemeanor counts of threats and battery after he allegedly threatened to kill a friend of Villagomez. He’s scheduled to be arraigned December 17.

WHAT’S NEXT: John Needham remains in jail on $1 million bail. His next court hearing is scheduled for January 23 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

See earlier stories at, search Needham.

-Nathan Wright

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