Watch CBS News

Estranged Husband Arrested In Woman's Stabbing Death At Santa Clarita Home

SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA) – A man suspected of fatally stabbing his estranged wife in Santa Clarita early Thursday morning was captured late Thursday night after a more than three-hour standoff with authorities.

Michelle Dorsey, who was stabbed to death at a Santa Clarita home -- while two of her three children were also in the house -- identified her estranged husband, 43-year-old James Matthew Dorsey, as her killer just before dying, authorities said.

Woman Stabbed To Death In Santa Clarita Home; Estranged Husband Suspected
Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies at the scene of a stabbing in Santa Clarita, Calif. April 15, 2021. (CBSLA)

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, at around 5:10 a.m. deputies responded to a home in the 22800 block of Fir Court on a report that a man had stabbed a woman.

They arrived to find a woman with stab wounds. She was rushed to a local hospital, where she died, the sheriff's department said.

There were two children in the home at the time. They were asleep, did not witness the slaying and were not hurt, the sheriff's department said. The third child was spending the night at a friend's house.

santa clarita stabbing mug
A driver's license photo of a man wanted in the stabbing death of his estranged wife at a Santa Clarita home. April 15, 2021. (L.A. County Sheriff's Department)

Just before dying, Michelle Dorsey told authorities that James Dorsey was her killer.

"She made what we call a dying declaration, and identified her estranged husband as the person who had gone into the house and attacked her and stabbed her," LASD Lt. Barry Hall told reporters.

James is a resident of Washington state. He drove down from Washington state on Wednesday, Hall said.

"The information we have right now is that he's not even living in the state, and they were certainly estranged, he's not even welcome at the house...He probably forced his way through the door at the back," Hall said.

After the killing, he fled the house in the victim's vehicle, a white four-door 2013 Chevrolet Malibu with California license plate No. 7ALF904, the sheriff's department said. Authorities were unsure if he was traveling in the Malibu or the 2008 Saturn SUV which he had driven down from Washington state. Both vehicles were missing.

Estranged Husband Arrested In Woman's Stabbing Death At Santa Clarita Home
A man suspected of fatally stabbing his estranged wife in Santa Clarita, Calif., earlier in the day got in a standoff with Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies in the northern L.A. County community of Neenach. April 15, 2021. (CBSLA)

At around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, deputies located Dorsey in the Malibu in the rural northern L.A. County community of Neenach, located on the border with Kern County, about 15 miles east of Gorman. He refused to exit the car and a standoff ensued.

During the standoff, he thrashed around in the car and waved what appeared to be a knife. At one point he threw something outside the car. His cell phone was found in a different location, which made negotiating with him difficult, the sheriff's department said.

Crisis negotiators were called in and Dorsey finally surrendered just after 10 p.m.

Dorsey filed a restraining order against her estranged husband in L.A. County Superior Court in August of 2019. He moved to Washington state shortly after that.

"We're all shocked, I don't think any of us have even began to try to process this because we don't understand, we don't understand how somebody could do that," Michelle's longtime friend Danielle Quemuel told CBSLA Friday.

Michelle Dorsey's brother is a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy, CBSLA learned.

"It's just hard to fathom in our community, I don't know what to say," Blake Pocquette, a neighbor, told CBSLA.

"We are just devastated for the family," Pocquette added.

The children, meanwhile, would be released to either family members or the California Department of Health and Human Services, officials said. If you would like to donate to the family's GoFundMe page, click here.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.