DA drops case against family living in the wash

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputy brings of four children found in wash to sheriff's station. photo taken March 16 by SCV Sheriff's Station deputy.


After finding insufficient evidence to proceed with prosecution, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office tossed out the child endangerment case against a husband a wife found in the Santa Clara River wash living there allegedly with their children.

On March 16, Deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station handcuffed Jeremiah Brinegar and Ashley (Melanson) Brinegar in front of their four preschool children and arrested the pair on suspicion of child endangerment.

The couple was issued a citation and later released from custody, each parent ordered to appear at the Santa Clarita Courthouse June 16.

On Friday, Brinegar went to court as ordered, only to learn from a deputy district attorney that the DA would not be pressing charges against him or his wife.

“We declined to file a case against him (Brinegar) or Melanson due to insufficient evidence,” Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the DA told The Signal Friday.

“The DA tells me they’re not pressing charges,” Brinegar told The Signal Friday. “Then why did all this stuff happen to us?

“They’re forgetting it ever happened,” he said, noting he hopes his children also forget it ever happened.

“I had to talk to them about it,” he said, referring to his four children all of pre-school age. “I think down inside they still don’t understand.”

“It raises the question ‘Why did they ever do that in the first place?’”

Brinegar is familiar to many people in the SCV having manned a table set up inside the Westfield Valencia Town Center mall to promote the gospel for the last four years.

On Friday, after he learned he wasn’t needed at court, Brinegar went to the mall to set up his table. He does not consider himself a transient, he said, but understands how some would think so.

Brinegar had an epiphany, he said, which compelled him to “walk with Jesus” and preach the gospel.

He was preaching to the homeless with his family, he said, when he was arrested under the Interstate 5 overpass bridge at Hasley Canyon Road.

Deputies, at the time, were responding to complaints they had received from citizens concerned for wellbeing of the children.

When Crime Prevention Deputy Wilson saw the infants and toddlers living in the wash, he said at the time: “I couldn’t just see them, and pretend like I didn’t.”

“It’s difficult,” said Watch Commander Lt. Bryan Aguilera said at the time.

The Brinegar children are reportedly healthy and “fine,” living with a friend of the family in Chino, according to family friend Matthew Millar.

“When I went to court this morning, I had no clue what was going to happen,” Brinegar said, adding he prayed inside the courthouse.

“I just said ‘Jesus goes before me’ and he is our protector.  I attribute everything that took to place to him,” Brinegar said.

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