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Atascadero man accused of killing two women has a criminal record

Kathy Yeager, one of the women killed on Christmas at the Santa Margarita Ranch. Photo courtesy of her family.
Kathy Yeager, one of the women killed on Christmas at the Santa Margarita Ranch. Photo courtesy of her family.

Andrew Wesley Downs, the 20-year-old Atascadero man arrested Sunday morning on suspicion of shooting to death two women at a home on the Santa Margarita Ranch and then taking authorities on a 10-hour manhunt, had been arrested earlier this year and evaluated for his mental stability, according to court records.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department identified the two sisters killed Christmas night as Beverly Reilly, 64, of Bishop and Kathy Yeager, 61. Autopsies are scheduled for Wednesday. Both women were visiting relatives who lived on the ranch — Jeff McKee, the ranch’s cattle foreman, and his wife, Alie McKee, whose mother and aunt were the victims.

Authorities haven’t disclosed a possible motive for the alleged murders.

Downs allegedly shot and killed the two women about 6:30 Christmas night at 5999 West Pozo Road. Downs fled the scene, stealing three vehicles in his getaway, according to authorities.

He was arrested early Sunday morning after allegedly attacking a man in an Atascadero home. The man knew Downs, authorities said.

Downs, according to San Luis Obispo Superior Court records, had stolen a car and trespassed on a Cambria property in February and was on probation.

On Feb. 4, Downs was arrested and charged with a felony for stealing his father’s Mercedes Benz in Atascadero, according to court records. It appears Downs then drove the car to the Cambria home of Ralph Covell, 63, and proceeded to trespass. Downs was charged with a misdemeanor trespassing. It could not be determined whether Downs knew Covell.

A mental evaluation ordered by the court found Downs mentally competent to appear in criminal proceedings. The felony charge of theft was eventually dismissed, and Downs pleaded no contest to trespassing, court records show.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, Downs served 53 days in County Jail and was released on probation under the custody of parents Gary and Madeline Downs of Atascadero. His probation was set to expire in March 2013.

A restraining order was also issued against Downs by Covell. A call to Covell on Monday wasn’t returned.

Downs’ parents couldn’t be reached for comment.

Downs remained in County Jail on Monday.

Memorial fund

A fund has been set up at Santa Lucia Bank to help with travel expenses for family and friends to attend the celebration of life. To give to the Jeff and Alie McKee Family Memorial Fund, contributions can be dropped off at any bank branch in Atascadero, Paso Robles or San Luis Obispo.

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