A 30-year-old Santa Cruz man has been sentenced in the June killing of his former girlfriend — a crime to which he confessed before pleading not guilty, and then later confessed again and changed his plea.
The story of 33-year-old Rachel “Elias” Meisenheimer and her on-again-off-again boyfriend Beau Paepke, with whom she sometimes lived in an RV she owned in Santa Cruz, is a tragic one. And Meisenheimer had already escaped one tragedy five years ago — when she survived after attending the Ghost Ship warehouse party in Oakland that ended in a horrific December 2016 fire in which 36 others died.
Meisenheimer had been romantically involved with Paepke for about the last five years, and she'd stayed with him despite what her mother described as "predatory" behavior and abuse. It wasn't until June of this year that she had filed a restraining order and a police complaint of domestic abuse, for which Paepke served 22 days in jail. Days after his release, Meisenheimer would be dead.
As the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports, Meisenheimer's mother, Monica Lennen, gave a victim impact statement at Paepke's sentencing on Friday. She said Paepke had stalked Meisenheimer at home, where she was hiding out with her mother, in the days after his release. He would later tell police that he strangled and stabbed her on June 28, inside the RV she owned and usually resided in with her dog Frankie. He then let Frankie loose in a park, and emptied Meisenheimer's bank account of the $1,600 she had just gotten from a paycheck before turning himself in to police on July 1.
Lennen lamented, "I tried to keep her safe. But even in our last conversation, Rachel was sticking up for that monster."
The day before her murder, Meisenheimer posted a text meme to her Facebook page saying, "You ever broke up with someone and your WHOLE FAMILY was relieved..."
Meisenheimer had been attending Laney College in Oakland around the time of the Ghost Ship Fire, and Paepke had previously attended Skyline High School in Oakland. Meisenheimer listed herself on Facebook as a "music consultant" for a weekly goth party at the Blue Lagoon nightclub in Santa Cruz. The club posted a remembrance of Meisenheimer back in July saying she was a "brazenly fierce, always real and often wickedly funny individual."
Paepke received a four-year sentence for probation issues, and a 16-years-to-life sentence for second-degree murder.