Court date set for alleged serial killer who police say targeted San Diego’s homeless

A court date has been set for an alleged serial killer who police say murdered three homeless men, and tried to kill two others in early July.

Jon David Guerrero, 39, will undergo a mental competency hearing on October 7 at San Diego County Superior Court for the alleged attacks.

For weeks San Diego Police could not determine who was behind the string of violent attacks against the homeless community and put out a warning to prevent more attacks from occurring while trying to find a suspect.

Angelo DeNardo, 53, was found dead in Bay Park on the morning of July 3. The next morning Manuel Mason was found injured and was transported to a nearby hospital. Shawn Longley’s body was found about an hour later.

San Diego Police held a press conference hours after a fourth homeless man, Dionicio Derek Vahidy, 23, was found severely injured. He later died while at the hospital.

San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman called the investigation into the attempted murder and deaths “the highest priority” for her department. She asked the homeless community for help in identifying a possible suspect during a press conference.

A week later, surveillance footage and a sketch of the suspect wearing a green hat and a carrying a backpack were released to the public.

Guerrero was picked up by police officers the next day for the attempted murder of Michael Joseph Papadelis, 55, who was found in East Village, according to a police report and court documents.

Police say the attacks bore similar characteristics, including the hour of day they occurred and the way the victims were attacked. All five homeless men experienced trauma to their upper torso, according to a press release.

Charges against Guerrero, including three counts of murder with a dangerous weapon, two counts of attempted murder and two counts of arson of property, have been placed on hold until his next court hearing.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer spoke shortly after the arrest of Guerrero and reemphasized his support for protecting homeless individuals from senseless acts of violence.

“We must continue to create support policies and add housing to help people get off the streets. These efforts will continue,” Faulconer said.

Jordan Frias

Jordan Frias is an editorial assistant at Boston Herald and a contributor of Spare Change News. He is vice president of the New England Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and a graduate of Northeastern University's School of Journalism.