Realtor charged w/ murders of 2 women, arson in Westminster house fire

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- A man suspected of killing two women and then setting fire to one of their homes was charged in the case Wednesday.

Christopher Ireland, 37, made his first court appearance after being charged with two felony counts for the murders of Yolanda Holtrey and her friend Michelle Luke on New Year's Eve. Ireland was also charged with aggravated mayhem and arson after Holtrey's Westminster home burned New Year's Day.

The family of Holtrey, including her daughter Harmony, are holding onto photos and memories of the victim. They even have the last photo she took, which was done a minute before midnight on New Year's Eve.

"The only reason why we're standing here right now and we're holding it together is because she taught us how to be this way, and be strong for the people around us," Harmony Holtrey said.

Authorities responded to the Westminster home around 5:30 a.m. New Year's Day. After investigators called the blaze suspicious, police began looking for Holtrey and Luke.

The women's bodies were found the next day in a grassy field near the intersection of Ford Road and Bonita Canyon Drive in Newport Beach.

"We'd never expect anybody to do something like this to her, so I just thought that she would show up eventually," Holtrey's daughter said.

Authorities said they arrested Ireland after interviewing him during the arson investigation. Ireland, a licensed realtor, and his wife were at Holtrey's home for a New Year's Eve get together, sources said.

Friends said Ireland's wife and the two victims worked together at Stein Mart. A friend described Ireland as a loving father.

"He was a good family man. Him and his son would always play outside, like literally every day," the friend said.

The cause of death for the women and a motive are still unknown. But police said there was severe trauma to both bodies.

Holtrey's family said she was always the person who brought them all together.

"I'm going to miss a lot of her smiles and laughs," Harmony Holtrey said.
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