A Gilroy woman who allegedly drove drunk and got into a car accident in Los Gatos Jan. 14 that killed her husband and daughter has been charged with murder, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.
Stacy Lonnberg, 51, originally was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and driving under the influence after she rolled the family’s Toyota pickup on Highway 85, killing her husband, 57-year-old Fred Lonnberg, and her daughter, 26-year-old Tiffiny Gillette, according to the California Highway Patrol.
A source with knowledge of the case said Lonnberg’s blood alcohol content was 0.16 – two times the legal limit.
Lonnberg remained in custody until she bailed out Jan. 18, but she was rearrested Wednesday after the District Attorney’s office charged her on two counts of murder and one count of child endangerment, the latter because her 3-year-old grandson, who is Gillette’s son, was also in the truck at the time of the wreck. The 3-year-old was not injured.
Lonnberg was arraigned Thursday afternoon in front of Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Jerome Nadler at the Hall of Justice in San Jose.
Dressed in mustard yellow-colored inmate clothing, she appeared stoic, stared straight ahead and did not speak as an attorney from the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office confirmed her name and date of birth with Judge Nadler. Her wrist and ankles were shackled, and she was inside the courtroom for mere minutes.
Nadler announced Lonnberg would remain in custody without bail and would return to court Feb. 2.
Emails from people who say they know Lonnberg said she had been on suicide watch while in custody, though officials the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s office say that isn’t the case.
Deputy District Attorney Matthew Braker said the DA’s office upped the charge to murder because, “The investigations and circumstance of that crime warrant that charge,” though he declined to provide many more details as investigations remain in full swing.
“There are people to interview and tests to be run, and it’s still going on,” he said.
Braker said investigators needed time to determine the proper charge.
“You don’t jump to go to murder (charges) right away,” Braker said.
Braker told the Dispatch last week that Lonnberg could be charged with murder if investigations revealed she had previously driven while drunk. Following Thursday’s hearing, Braker said it was “too early to tell” if Lonnberg had previous episodes of driving under the influence.
Lonnberg was driving north around 3:45 p.m. on Highway 85 near Winchester Boulevard Jan. 14 when the CHP said she attempted a lane change while speeding past the 65 mph posted limit. Her pickup sideswiped a Chevrolet Silverado truck, causing the Lonnbergs’ Toyota to roll several times before coming to rest on its wheels, the CHP said.
Gillette, Lonnberg’s daughter, was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected, the CHP said. She was pronounced dead the scene, and Lonnberg’s husband was pronounced dead hours later at Valley Medical Center. Ethan, Lonnberg’s grandson, suffered scratches on his feet, but no other injuries. No one in the Silverado was hurt, the CHP said.
Lonnberg admitted to officers she had been drinking, and officers reported she smelled strongly of alcohol.