ENCINITAS, Calif. – Family members are speaking out remembering 56 year old John Upton who was murdered outside his Olivenhain home Thursday.
“It’s devastating,” said Michael Upton, the victim’s brother. “It just knocked the wind out of me”
Investigators say a dispute between Upton and his neighbor, Michael Vilkin, who owns a plot of land next door sparked the murder. Upton’s relatives say he avoided conflict and can’t imagine anything he did or said would’ve threatened the suspect.
“My brother was shot 30 feet from his front door by a guy with a concealed weapon,” said Upton.
Neighbors say Vilkin bought the land to one day build a home and retire. They say he was often there working and clearning the land.
“He was out there tidying, making piles of rocks and sticks,” said Patty Birchall who also lives on Lone Jack Road.
The victim’s family says Upton was a dedicated filmmaker who helped orphaned children in Romania. His work was even featured on ABC News during a special 20/20 report.
“He was a good brother, a good father, a good humanitarian,” said Upton.