Saugus stabbing becomes murder investigation after woman dies at the hospital

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies investigate a stabbing on Fir Court in Saugus on Thursday, April 15, 2021. Tim Whyte/The Signal

UPDATED: Suspect in custody after Thursday night standoff in Quartz Hill.

By Caleb Lunetta & Emily Alvarenga 

Signal Staff Writers 

A 39-year-old mother of three was stabbed to death in her Saugus home early Thursday morning, prompting a daylong manhunt in which sheriff’s deputies combed northern Los Angeles County in search of her estranged husband, who is suspected of fleeing the scene after stabbing her multiple times while the children slept. 

The search for the suspect drew to a close by Thursday evening, as the suspect led deputies on a brief chase that culminated in a standoff on a remote road in Quartz Hill, near the Kern County line. The confrontation began around 4:45 p.m., and shortly after 10 p.m., the suspect, James Matthew Dorsey, was taken into custody, per Sheriff’s Information Bureau officials.  

Deputies, who’d been searching the area after the vehicle was spotted earlier in the afternoon, located the suspect near an aqueduct north of Highway 138, initiating a short pursuit before the suspect crashed off the road, according to L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Information Bureau officials. 

Before she died at the hospital, the 39-year-old victim made a “dying declaration,” naming her estranged husband, Dorsey, as the suspect, said Homicide Lt. Barry Hall.  

Hall added that their three children, who were in the house sleeping at the time of the incident, have been secured and were uninjured. 

“They’re estranged. He was not welcome at the house. He does not live here,” Hall said, later adding that the children did not witness the incident.  

Dorsey, 41, was described by Hall as a white man, 5 feet, 6 inches tall, 165 pounds, was believed to be “armed and dangerous” and believed to be living in Washington at this time. 

James Matthew Dorsey, 41, is the suspect in the murder of his estranged wife. Courtesy of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Hall said the call, which was reported as a “stabbing in progress,” came in at approximately 5:10 a.m. on the 22800 block of Fir Court.  

“Initially, the report was that someone got stabbed,” said Supervisor Michael Pittman with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. “We were cleared to enter and one female adult stabbing victim was taken to an area hospital.” 

The suspect fled the scene in the victim’s 2013 white, four-door Chevrolet Malibu, with California license plate 7ALF904, after having stabbed the woman multiple times in the upper torso, Hall said.   

Dorsey is believed to have driven down to Santa Clarita in a 2008 white Saturn SUV with Washington license plates, for which law enforcement were also searching, Hall added. 

“We are actively searching for that vehicle right now, and there’s already an arrest warrant in the system for the suspect,” Hall added Thursday morning, while the suspect was at large.  

A woman is rushed to the hospital after being stabbed in her Saugus home on Thursday, April, 15, 2021. Austin Dave/For The Signal

As deputies investigated early in the morning, a small group of neighbors gathered at the end of the cul de sac and expressed their shared hopes that the victim might survive her injuries.  

“She’s really sweet,” said one neighbor, who asked not to be identified, referring to the victim. “Just a sweet, sweet mom. She’s always doing things with her kids. Very sweet neighbor. Praying she’s OK.” 

She added: “I know her kids are OK, because the (deputies) told me that.” 

A handful of neighbors on the block said they were in shock at what had occurred and had awakened to the sound of helicopters and law enforcement vehicles descending on the home in the corner of the cul de sac. 

“It’s sad,” said another neighbor, who also asked to remain unnamed. “She has … little boys.” 

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies investigate a stabbing on Fir Court in Saugus on Thursday, April 15, 2021. Tim Whyte/The Signal

The Signal is refraining from identifying the victim until her identity is publicly released by the L.A. County Medical-Examiner Coroner’s Office or the Sheriff’s Department. 

Court documents obtained by The Signal indicated that the victim had filed for a temporary restraining order against and legal separation from Dorsey on Aug. 27, 2019, in the North Valley District branch of the L.A. County Superior Court. 

The restraining order also lists the victim’s three sons — ages 13, 11, 9 — as those who are included in the protective order.  

In the request for the restraining order, the victim marked a box that said she had asked for the restraining order and had not provided Dorsey with a notice of her filing because she was “afraid that the violence would reoccur when (she) gave notice that (she) was asking for these orders.” 

The court records also indicate the two had an upcoming court appearance scheduled for June 14.  

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies investigate a stabbing on Fir Court in Saugus on Thursday, April 15, 2021. Austin Dave/For The Signal

Natalie Arriaga, a spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station, confirmed that local deputies had responded to the stabbing early Thursday morning. She referred all additional questions about the investigation to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau. 

The white Malibu was spotted heading eastbound on Highway 138 at approximately 1 p.m. in Lancaster, according to officials at the California Highway Patrol Traffic Management office. Deputies were able to locate the suspect’s vehicle on a nearby dirt road off the highway after a thorough search of the surrounding area, according to sheriff’s officials.  

Anyone with information about this incident can contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile AP on Google play or the Apple App Store or by using the website 

— Tim Whyte contributed to this report. 

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies investigate a stabbing on Fir Court in Saugus on Thursday, April 15, 2021. Austin Dave/For The Signal

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