Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain title=
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain
Reads 15911
Update by edhat staff
4:00 p.m., August 20, 2018

The Sheriff’s Office is releasing the identity of the decedent located on Hot Springs Trail on August 18, 2018 around 6:00 p.m. in Montecito. 

The decedent is 43-year-old Wayne Stuart Habell of Newhall.

The cause and manner of death is a suicide, by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Next of kin has been notified.

Update by edhat staff
11:00 p.m., August 18, 2018

A man's body was found Saturday evening in a canyon not far from where a vehicle belonging to a missing Los Angeles County Fire Department captain was spotted.

At approximately 2 p.m. Friday, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputies responded to the area of the Hot Springs hiking trail in Montecito due to reports of a suspicious vehicle that had been there since Monday.

The vehicle was registered to 43-year-old Wayne Habell, of Newhall, who was reported missing earlier in the week. The authorities state the man connected to the vehicle was seen walking up the trailhead. 

Search teams scoured the area to find him, but could not locate Habell before it got dark. The search was halted and then resumed in the early morning hours of Saturday.

Around 6 p.m., search teams found a man's body in a canyon. The body was taken to the Santa Barbara County Coroner's Office for further investigation.

Authorities could not confirm that the body was Habell. The identification of the body and cause of death will be determined by the coroner.

The investigation is ongoing.


By edhat staff
12:00 p.m., August 18, 2018

The vehicle of a missing Los Angeles County Fire Captain was found in Montecito on Friday, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Authorities from Santa Barbara County Sheriff's contacted the Los Angeles County Missing Person's Unit at approximately 4:00 p.m., stating the black SUV was located in a rural area in the City of Montecito by a passerby at around 2:00 p.m. 

A search of the area was conducted, however, 43-year-old Captain Wayne Stuart Habell was not located in or near the vehicle. Authorities stated they will continue to investigate and use all resources necessary to try and locate him. 

Habell was last seen leaving his home in Newhall on Monday, August 13, 2018, at 7:30 a.m. It was believed the father of three was heading to the L.A. Fitness in Stevenson Ranch in the Santa Clarita Valley when he last left home.

The captain, who works at fire station 73 in Newhall, has been with the department for 13 years. Officials had previously said they were searching the Santa Clarita Valley area.

Habell is described as being 6 feet tall and weighing 225 pounds with short brown-blond hair and green eyes. He was last seen wearing a blue shirt with plaid shorts.

Family, friends, and detectives are asking for anyone with information regarding Wayne Stuart Habell's disappearance to please contact us at 323-890-5500 or anonymously at 800-222-8477. 

Login to add Comments


Toggle Comments (Show)
Flicka Aug 21, 2018 05:10 PM
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

Very sad story. The car was abandoned for 5 days so the license was checked and turned out it belonged to the missing man. It wasn't someone taking photos of children or anything else. And, it's not likely anyone would be "taking pictures" for 5 days straight. Good thing they checked and found the man so hikers wouldn't have to discover it. Good grief, "yellow journalism"? With all the news media posting reports of him missing for days, in case someone could give information about where he was, naturally they would post that the man had been found.

Bug Girl Aug 20, 2018 07:48 AM
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

Rest in Peace, brave human. I have utmost respect for Fire Fighters. I refuse to speculate on his cause of death, but I hope he didn't suffer. May your family's pain soothe swiftly, and their memories of you remain clear and beautiful, untainted by sadness of your early passing.

a-1591292215 Aug 19, 2018 10:07 PM
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

The car was reported as "suspicious" after someone had spotted it abandoned there for 5 days in a row. Then when the Police check the license plates they came back belonging to a missing person report. This was all stated previously.

mtndriver Aug 19, 2018 04:52 PM
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

When someone dies in a public place, it is news. Someone hit by a train, someone killed in a car crash, someone shot, falling off the cliffs in IV, whatever, it's news, not gossip. Speculating about why this man died, that's gossip. But it's not edhat doing that, it's people in their comments. May he rest in peace.

a-1591292215 Aug 19, 2018 03:23 PM
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

Newsworthy in that for the past several days news outlets from LA to SB repeatedly posted his photo and story- then after he was found, procession of Fire and Sheriff escorted his for speculation i to cause of death, I agree, best left to others and family to share if the choose. RIP

RHS Aug 19, 2018 01:36 PM
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

"Yellow journalism and the yellow press are American terms for journalism and associated newspapers that present little or no legitimate well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines for increased sales. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism." Yellow journalism - Wikipedia

a-1591292215 Aug 19, 2018 04:18 PM
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

COMPLETELY disagree with you. As a previous commenter stated, missing persons reports are released to the media to help find people and provide important and timely information. If the press just suddenly took these articles down, you'd most likely cry for the lack of transparency. Now media is being transparent with the public details and you're saying it's "yellow journalism." Knock it off.

RHS Aug 19, 2018 10:21 AM
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

Yellow journalism. This is a private tragedy it seems. There is no social benefit from spreading his life about when it becomes clear the situation does not involve crimes. If that were to be the case one can then cover the matter differently.

a-1591292215 Aug 19, 2018 04:20 PM
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

No one is reporting this as a suicide, because the FACTS have not been revealed. The media has stated 1. person is missing. 2. car was found of missing person. 3. Now body is found near car. People can speculate but the media is not stating it's a suicide and definitely NOT stating this as such or creating catchy headlines to get clicks. This is an updated story presenting the facts.

RHS Aug 19, 2018 01:34 PM
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

"Press Release" does not mean it is news. Get a grip. The government or political agencies do not decide what is news. It is the duty of the press to discern what is not and what is newsworthy. Further the duty extends to pulling stories when the facts change as appropriate. Someone's suicide is not news per se. Using the photos, the decedant's history, employment and family issues is gossip at best. Maybe on social media this sort of cannibalistic coverage is welcome but in the day it was the definition of "yellow journalism."

a-1591292215 Aug 19, 2018 12:13 PM
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

I totally agree. How is a vehicle suspicious when it's just parked there? Was it threatening anyone? Perhaps it was taking photos of children or bathers? Was there a foul odor coming from the trunk? That alone clouds everything that follows in the report. The only interest is morbid curiosity by the vultures in the peanut gallery. Privacy is Dead.

a-1591292215 Aug 19, 2018 10:37 AM
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

How is this yellow journalism. It was a PUBLIC press release about a missing person, then the PUBLIC press release was updated after a vehicle was found in Santa Barbara County. Unfortunately it ended in tragedy, but this is ethical and appropriate reporting.

a-1591292215 Aug 18, 2018 11:14 PM
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

Oh my heart is truly broken to pieces. I wonder if he was drawn to Montecito because he was probably one of the brave heroes who helped out during one of our recent tragedies... Many many prayers for his family..

420722 Aug 18, 2018 10:47 PM
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

I’m pretty sure it’s the missing man. A procession of police vehicles (about 7) and fire truck were coming down coast village road lights on no sirens and went on to the freeway with the last vehicle doing a zig zag formation to slow traffic. There were no accidents and no debris so im guessing it had to do with the discovery. So sad for all involved.

a-1591292215 Aug 18, 2018 05:08 PM
Body Identified as Missing LA County Fire Captain

Usually they steal cars from Montecito and find them in L.A. How could anyone hurt a Fire Chief is beyond me. They help save so many lives and make keep so many other lives so very happy. Please pray for his safe return. His children must be so scared.

Please Login or Register to comment on this.