From the San Diego
SPRINGS — The voice of
Borrego Springs has died, the apparent victim of a
murder-suicide at the hands of her estranged husband,
and the small, unincorporated desert community is
Judy Winter Meier, 61, the
longtime editor of the Borrego Sun and probably the
best-known person in Borrego Springs, was found dead in
the kitchen of her house on Saint Thomas Drive shortly
after 6 p.m. Monday night.
Her husband, Jim Meier, 59, was
also found dead, lying on the couch in the living room.
Sheriff’s homicide investigators have not released
further information about the investigation, however,
they said there are no outstanding suspects.
The couple had been married for
37 years, but Judy Meier filed for divorce in May,
according to court documents.
"She was the editor of the
Borrego Sun and that’s the voice for our community. In
that respect she was the voice of our community," said
longtime friend Betsy Knaak.
Sheriff’s deputies made the
discoveries after a newspaper employee asked that they
check on Meier, who had failed to show up for work all
Meier had been the editor of
the small, twice-monthly newspaper for more than 20
years and an employee for more than 30 years.
She had covered thousands of
meetings and wrote many Page-2 columns for the
newspaper, which had a professional feel to it more so
than many small papers. The Copley Press Inc., former
owner of The San Diego Union-Tribune, sold the Borrego
Sun in 2009. The new owner, Patrick Meehan, was in
England when he heard the news and was flying to
Borrego, where he lives part time.
News of what had happened
circulated quickly in the town of about 3,000 residents.
Everybody expressed shock.
Murder is rare in the community. Ironically, Meier was
to be honored in a couple of weeks at a San Diego Press
Club awards ceremony for a story she worked on about a
murder earlier this year — the first homicide in Borrego
Springs in at least a decade.
"I’d say she was probably the
most well-known person in town," said Borrego Springs
resident and sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Medina. "She’s
going to be missed."
"I can’t think of anybody that
didn’t know her," said the newspaper’s office assistant,
Angela Juhl. "She was involved in everything about this
town for 30 years."
Juhl said Monday was a printing
deadline day. When Meier didn’t show up or call, the
three employees knew something was wrong.
"We knew it was bad," she said.
"The only reason she didn’t call, we all knew, was
because she couldn’t."
Meier was praised Tuesday for
her professionalism and her ability to do quality
journalism in a town where everybody knows everybody
"She cared very much for this
community," said Knaak, the executive director of the
Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association.
"In her years as editor of the
Sun she was very respectful of the private lives of
Borregans in that we live in a small town. She was
always respectful. She was terrific and has been a very
good and loyal friend."
Jim Meier, by many accounts,
A former park ranger at
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Jim Meier was allowed to
retire in the late 1990s rather than be fired due partly
to anger issues, said former park Superintendent Mark
"There was always the kind of
thought that maybe he would one day go to the dark
side," Jorgensen said. "There was always the subliminal
thought that maybe here is a person that shouldn’t be
allowed to carry a gun and a badge."
Jorgensen said Jim Meier seemed
to have somewhat of a split personality.
"There were times he was very
jovial and outgoing and funny — fun to be around. And
then there were times when he would come in with a
definite chip on his shoulder. … He just wasn’t that
The couple have two grown
children, a son and daughter.
"I know she was a very good
mother," Juhl said. "Her children just loved her."
Jorgensen said Meier "was a wonderful person, very
professional. … I would say as far as life with Jim, she
was very patient most of the time."
Maris Brancheau was a reporter
at the Sun for nine years until leaving in June to
pursue a law degree.
She said Meier was dedicated to
the newspaper and to the town and tried to inform her
readers fairly and with integrity.
"She was there for me just like
a mom," Brancheau said. "She always made me cake on my
birthday and made me look forward to coming to work
Meier tried to get help for her
husband who had "mental issues," Brancheau said.
"It’s senseless that she should
be taken away from all the people that love her. She
left a legacy of work and friendship and love."
by J Harry Jones