Body found in Meiners Oaks sledgehammer murder case

The body of a man allegedly murdered by his roommate in Meiners Oaks has been recovered following a month-long search.

Houston Auer is believed to have been murdered on May 12. His roommate, Cameron Lykins, 23, was arrested and charged with murder and a special allegation that he used a sledgehammer in the death. The Ventura Count Sheriff’s Department said that there was strong evidence that the murder occurred in the home, but had not been able to find a body.

On June 23, a State Fish and Wildlife warden found what he believed to be human remains near Upper Big Tujunga Road in Los Angeles County. Upon recovery, the remains were confirmed to be Auer’s, but a cause of death has yet to be determined, pending an autopsy.

Tall Ships start fundraiser for urgent repairs

The tall ships Hawaiian Chieftain and Lady Washington are in urgent need of repairs and the owners have turned to the community to fundraise for the pricey endeavor.

The ships, both of which visit both the Ventura and Channel Island harbors annually, require $120,000 in “critical repairs and maintenance projects” by July 31, according to an email sent by Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, which operates the ships out of Aberdeen, Washington.

“There are a lot of things the ships need,” said Brandi Bednarik, executive director. “One of the biggest costs are sails. Right now, the old and worn sails on our ships have already seen nearly 4,000 days of howling wind, bright sun, rain showers and salt air.”

When docked, the ships host educational tours and excursions for the weeks they are in port. The fundraiser specifies that for $12, one foot of sail can be purchased, and donations can be made in increments of 1, 2, 5 or 10 feet of sail canvas.

For more information, visit secure.donorpro.com/ghhs.

Endangered Species protection sought for Southern California mountain lions

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Mountain Lion Foundation have petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to include protection for mountain lions in the California Endangered Species Act.

“Our mountain lions are dying horrible deaths from car collisions and rat poison, and their populations are at risk from inbreeding too,” said Tiffany Yap, a biologist at the center and primary author of the petition. “Without a clear legal mandate to protect mountain lions from the threats that are killing them and hemming them in on all sides, these iconic wild cats will soon be gone from Southern California.”

Habitat loss is also cited as a reason for dwindling populations, which has led to “dangerously low genetic diversity.” Further, urbanization has cut off the cougars from traveling outside of very specific areas.

“Very few young lions can make their way through the maze of homes that dot the hillsides of Southern California,” said Lynn Cullens, executive director of the Mountain Lion Foundation. “It’s time to recognize the threats that face mountain lions and improve our ability to protect them, because they matter for their own sakes and have significant value to all Californians.”

For more information and to read the petition, visit www.biologicaldiversity.org.

VCTC offers free rides to students

Hey kids, do you like free bus rides? The Ventura County Transportation Commission has got you covered!

Students enrolled at Moorpark College, Oxnard College, Ventura College, Ventura College East Campus in Santa Paula, CSU Channel Islands and Cal Lutheran University may use Ventura County public transportation for free with a student ID for another year thanks to an extension of the College Easy Ride program.

For more information and a full schedule, visit www.goventura.org.

Story Slam submissions sought in Thousand Oaks

Everybody get up, it’s time to slam now, we got a real jam goin’ down: a Story Slam. The Thousand Oaks Library is seeking submissions for its story slam, which will feature eight autobiographical stories read on stage by their authors in August.

Funny, poignant, uplifting or compelling, the only requirements are that the stories be autobiographical and true and be PG-rated with a maximum of 1,200 words, or about eight minutes in length when read aloud.

Submissions can be emailed to library@toaks.org with the subject line “Thousand Oaks Library Story Slam” or can be dropped off in a sealed envelope in person at the Thousand Oaks Library Administration Office, 1401 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks. For more information, visit www.tolibrary.org.

Ventura Police warn of rental scam

It can be hard enough to find a rental in Ventura without having to worry about being ripped off, but the City of Ventura Police Department says that you should be wary.

Since early June, the Department says that several residents have been scammed into giving a first month’s rent and deposit to scammers posing as homeowners. Police say that if it sounds too good to be true (i.e., lower than average rent in the area), it probably is, and to avoid listings that require wire transfers of money or ask for money up front.

If you believe you’re being targeted, contact the Ventura Police Department at 805-339-4400 and report the listing to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.