Auburn man dead after stabbing, Placerville man faces murder charge

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
-A +A

This El Dorado County Sheriff's Office booking photo shows Wesley Hampshire, 18, of Placerville, who was jailed Wednesday on a murder charge in the death of Auburn resident Matthew Steele.

AUBURN CA - A 20-year-old Auburn man is dead after being stabbed Wednesday in what the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office is calling a possible homicide.

The Sheriff’s Office identified the victim Thursday as Auburn resident Matthew Martin Steele.

Steele was reportedly stabbed and went into cardiac arrest after what was described in a 911 call at 4:10 p.m. as an altercation in the area of Brown’s Road and Cold Springs Road, just north of Placerville, Sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Byers said.

At the same time, the reporting party said the possible suspect had fled on foot from the scene, Byers said.

When deputies arrived, witnesses and local residents were administering CPR to Steele, Byers said. Paramedics transported Steele to Marshall Hospital in Placerville, where he was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m., he said.

The suspect – 18-year-old Wesley Ronald Hampshire of Placerville – was located at his residence on Brown’s Road and taken into custody without incident, the Sheriff’s Office reported. Hampshire was booked into El Dorado County Jail on a charge of murder. Arraignment in court could come Friday or Monday.

Byers said late Thursday that the circumstances surrounding the altercation were continuing to be investigated. There had been no word from detectives on what precipitated the incident, he said.

The Sheriff’s Office was not identifying the type of implement used in the stabbing.

Steele was driven after the stabbing to a parking lot on Cold Springs Road, adjacent to the pull-in to the private Brown’s Road subdivision. The lot was empty Thursday. The Cold Springs Store Market and Deli was no longer in business and a cleanup crew was inside repairing water damage from pipes that had burst in the cold in the empty building.

Outside, a patch of blood and discarded medical supplies used in an attempt to revive Steele were stark evidence of the tragic afternoon altercation.

The site of the stabbing is about a 23-mile drive southeast of Auburn and four miles past Coloma. The area is outside Placerville city limits but in the same postal address area.

The community of Cold Springs is a mix of agricultural and residential lots. Lyle McAtee has lived in Cold Springs for 46 years and said Thursday that the homicide the day before was the first he’d heard of there in nearly 50 years.

“Every nine or 10 years, there might be a fight,” McAtee said. “But that’s a random thing.”

McAtee said he couldn’t recall meeting either of the two people involved in the altercation that led to the death of Steele. Cold Springs is a quiet community, where people generally keep to themselves, he said.

Steele’s death was met with shock and sadness by people who knew him in the Auburn area.

Curtis Sproul of Newcastle said that Steele went to school with his twin boys, Gordon and Kyle, and he was a frequent guest at their home.

“Matt was not an angel or a ‘perfect kid’ but he was a wonderful human being,” Sproul said. “He was funny, upbeat and a talented guitar player.”

Dani Elle Neft went to Placer High School and had classes together with Steele.

“I’d never met someone more animated or thirsty to experience life,” Neft said. “He always managed to put a smile on everyone’s face – even mine when I thought no one could. He was truly an exceptional human being and he will be missed by every person who ever was lucky to meet him.” 

For more, see: