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Third arrest made in connection with 2018 murder of Santa Maria man

His remains were found in a lake at a Nipomo golf course
Posted at 6:16 PM, Sep 28, 2020

A third suspect has been arrested in connection with the 2018 murder of a Santa Maria man whose remains were discovered last week at a Nipomo golf course.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office says Benjamin Mersai, 33, of Grover Beach was taken into custody shortly before 5 p.m. Monday at Blacklake Golf Resort.

It’s the same golf course where the remains of Joseph Martin Govey were pulled from a lake on the property last Monday, Sept. 21.

The sheriff’s office says Mersai will be booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail without bail on suspicion of murder, conspiracy and accessory to murder, which are all felonies.

Two other suspects are also facing charges in the case.

Kimberly Machleit, 35, was arrested last Tuesday and charged with murder. Donald Anderson, 37, was arrested the same day and charged with being an accessory to murder for the killing that’s alleged to have occurred Dec. 2, 2018.

Both remain in custody at Santa Barbara County Jail.

Govey was reported missing to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office on August 23, 2019 after the sheriff’s office says his family had not heard from him since late 2018.

Sheriff's officials say detectives believe the victim was killed and dismembered in Santa Maria in December 2018 before the remains were dropped in the lake.

Investigators say the victim and at least two of the suspects knew each other and the killing was not a random act.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about the murder case to contact the Sheriff's Office Tip Line at (805) 681-4171 or leave an anonymous tip at