Discussion in '1980's Missing' started by dizzigirl1, Dec 31, 2015.
Cecile has been missing for 39 years today.
Bumping for Cecile, today is her birthday.
Cecile, what happened to you?
I have so many questions about this case.
If you do a google search for Cecile Moch missing, there is a blog post that is near the top of the list. It gives a bit of insight about Sunburst. (Warning. There is a post mortem photo of Arroyo Grande Jane Doe there)
These are a few questions I have...
Where was Cecile living at the time of her disappearance?
Was she dating anyone?
Was there anything going on in her life that would make suicide an option (car found in the mountains)?
Who was the last person to see Cecile?
Were coworkers questioned and if so, what were their thoughts and responses?
What serial killers/ rapists were active in the area at the time?
Were there any other murders/ disappearances related to the Sunburst cult leaders and it's members during the years before or after Cecile's disappearance?
So many more questions but I don't know how to find any answers... except researching about serial killers/ rapists of the time in that area.
Cecile has been missing for 40 years today.
Time to return to the question of Sunburst Farms.
Cecile's car was found in the Santa Ynez mountains. I would assume this is where Sunburst Farms had its living accommodation since an article from 1975 in the NY Times (Coast Religious Sect's Life Is Tested by Prosperity) states "Old school buses carry them down the steep mountain road from Sunburst Farms, the religious sect's 160‐acre commune to spend the day toiling in the Brotherhood's chain of business enterprises in the coastal city." It also specifies further property in Los Padres forest and Cuyama Valley, both of which would be reached through the mountains from Santa Barbara.
There is the question of Cecile's connection with Sunburst Farms (member of just an employee). Whilst I do not know, there is plenty of material available making it clear that managers of Sunburst Farms retail outlets such as The Farmer and The Fisherman (a natural food café) and Isla Vista (a store) were full members. Given the availability of members mentioned in the NY Times article it would seem surprising if Cecile was not either a member or, at least, seen as a prospective member. Other sources suggest members numbered in hundreds at their peak which should have been adequate to staff outlets. The Isla Vista store was near the UCSB campus and presumably used for recruitment as well as sales.
All of this may mean nothing, but it makes me want to know a whole lot more about her connection with Sunburst Farms. This may not mean the commune collectively; it could be connections to particular members. As I have said on a previous post, in 1979 the commune was imploding and had members (including the leader and some close associates) who were both paranoid and heavily armed.
At the very least I would expect Sunburst Farms to be close to the top of enquiries - and there are plenty of members from the 1970s still out there.
Stumbled on this case looking for matches....
What motivation would this Sunburst cult have to single out one employee (?) Does it seem more likely a patron may have followed/enticed her to drive out someplace? Or someone at the college? I'm thinking along the lines of the "let me take your picture, I'm a photographer" Rodney Alcala kind of vibe..... (obviously not him, but someone operating along those lines, perhaps?)
I doubt that the cult had an institutional reason to target her, although it is not impossible if she had stumbled across something such as the heavy duty drugs, or arms stockpiling linked to the leaders. There are also references to sexual abuse of minors by Paulsen (the leader) but no evidence I have seen, whilst the drugs and guns are well documented. Much more likely (if there is a connection to Sunburst) is that she was the victim of one of the nutters and crooks who made up the leadership cadre at that time. By any standards there seem to have been some seriously unbalanced individuals around (including Paulsen) and it would only have needed a problem to spark a tragedy.
But it is also possible that she crossed paths with someone unconnected to Sunburst. Either way the Sunburst connection should be subjected to close LE scrutiny given the obvious possibility and the existence of numerous ex-members from that time.
That makes sense.
What is really known about them? Are there suspicions of anyone else disappearing or being violently attacked?
I understand the "nutter" part, just trying to get up to speed. If this Paulsen guy was seriously bad news, would he not have been a prime subject at the time her car was found?
I don't think Paulsen was 'seriously bad news'. He was a druggie scam artist but generally reported to be at the 'peace and love' end of the cult milieu. However the drugs made him unpredictable. There is at least one verified report of him getting hugely high or drunk, having some sort of run in with local LE and breaking out the armoury with a suggestion that they go shoot up the local Sheriff's office. Apparently he fell over comatose before any action! But he was also surrounded by a leadership cadre who were just as crooked, living the high life off the work of ordinary members. Such an environment always creates risk.
Whilst I can see why he (or they) would not have been prime suspects at the time (the connection was only through employment with, presumably, no direct evidence of their involvement), they certainly should have been looked at closely given the reports of their behaviour, where her car was found and the apparent lack of more promising leads.
Hello all. I knew Cecile, we dated in 1975/76 and we were still friends at the time she disapeared. To summarize what happened as we know it. She was associated with Sunburst while I student at SB City College in the nursing program. She was a server at the restaurant and she was also more deeply involved. Without disclosing private issues that the family wouldn't be happy about being made public, they'd gotten her strung out on drugs. She was taken out and brought home, and to a rehab unit at UCLA. She had a difficult time there but after treatment she was released to her parent's home. She stayed there for only a short time and then took her books and her car and went back up to SB. Her car was found very shortly after she left and all that was found of her otherwise were her books which were still on the front seat of her car, and her footprints along with those of two other larger individuals, leading off into the brush. Nothing else was ever seen of her again.
The search was very involved and yes, her parents pulled out every stop. Local police, the FBI and even the Apache Trackers from Arizona were brought in. After the searches found nothing her parents kept in contact with an FBI agent and a local PD rep for a number of years.
Her mother and I took it upon ourselves to go in and look for her, independently of the police and FBI. We took my car and went in through the gates and talked to people there. This is where it got very scary. We were met with anger and very large men (I'm 6'1" and an athletic 200 pounds and they were much larger than myself) who were heavily armed and drove told us in no uncertain terms to leave. When we left I noticed that we'd been followed by a black Cadillac limo with three of these men inside, with obvious automatic weapons on display. This resulted in a high speed chase down HWY 101 through Santa Barbara. I escaped by leaving the freeway and taking curves and turns through town.
Right around this time there was a known murder at Sunburst. Someone was killed, thrown into the bread kiva, and burned down to just teeth and a few bone fragments. It's well documented that there was a fragmentation amongst the leadership of Sunburst at this time and that the leader, Paulson, had gotten into drugs and weapons. It all fits with the events surrounding Cecile's addiction by them and subsequent disappearance.
Best guess is that she'd brought more unwanted attention and suffered the fate of the other individual, and ended up in that bread kiva.
One thing is certain, she is not the Jane Doe that is being discussed on several of these sites. I knew Cecile very well and I can assure you that this is not her.
Any questions feel free to ask either here or on my e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I little on more recent activities. Recently, a mutual high school friend and I tried to talk to people involved. One was someone who was at Sunburst at the time and now is a muckety muck at a resort up in Solvang. We asked her about Sunburst and at first she was real nice talking about how they're now a retreat of some kind, a spiritual sort of thing. Then we brought up Cecile. It was like an iron door closed. She clearly knew something and just as clearly would have had to have been put on a rack to drag it out of her.
A further follow-up on Sunburst. Shortly after Cecile disappeared the commune split up. One group went off into the Nevada desert and started a new commune there. Last I looked (which was a few years ago) they were still out there. I suppose that there is some chance that she was put into hiding and went with these people out to the desert and is still there.
Here's an article with some insight into the history of Sunburst and its founder: The Last Great California Hippie Commune is still going Strong
If anybody's interested in following up on this move to Nevada, the place they went to was called Big Springs Ranch and it's in northeast Nevada. It was almost a million acres and a whole bunch of them moved out there. Later some split off from there and moved to Salt Lake City and did their health food/organic thing out there too.
Thank you for this valuable information and insight into her disappearance. Having an insider onboard greatly helps. Welcome to Websleuths!!
Maybe you could share your information-especially the part about the interview with the mutual high school friend. I would think the Investigating Agency would have a deep interest in what you wrote.
Hi..oh yeah, we've been all through this with the local police who will still talk to us. Everybody who was working the case back then has since long retired so it's new people. To them it's a cold case and all this is OLD information, with this happening before some of them were even born.
Her mother and I had told the local police contact what had happened with us and there was no follow-up. Anything further was clearly up to us. I had friends at the time who'd volunteered to go in with us, with guns themselves. These were backwoods boys from Louisiana and they really wanted to get in there with their trucks and shotguns and rescue the girl. I drew the line at actually creating a gun fight.
I'm going to go up to the "new" Sunburst and talk to Paulsen's wife myself. He died some years ago and apparently she still runs the place. She might react differently to a guy sitting in her office who leads in with a half hour of discussion about their permaculture activities (I'm a Board member of a non-profit that's involved with that) and then brings up "oh, by the way.....do you remember Cecile Moch" than she did to a phone call.
Welcome @hermosasurfer Thank you for posting about Cecile here. Would you consider becoming a Verified Insider for Cecile’s case here? That would be very helpful.
Verification Process for Professional or Insider Posters
Sure, I can do that.
As an insider there are two things I'd like to address. One thing I'd REALLY like to see stop are the accusations or suppositions that her parents somehow dropped the ball. I'm still friends with her brother and that sort of thing does nobody any good at all. They did EVERYTHING in their power through official lines and as you can see even stepped beyond that to work on their own and put themselves into danger doing it. Imagine how it feels when they see and hear things like this.
The other reason I did this is because I've seen a LOT of talk about these Jane Does, one in particular, with questions like "why didn't the family give DNA and why don't they step up now". The simple reason is that this is NOT Cecile. There have been Jane Does through the years. I remember one back in the day and there have been some more along the way. All were ruled out.