Story Summary

Lemon Grove Homicide

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 4 updates

Casey Michael Tschida

EL CAJON, Calif. — Prosecutors Wednesday filed special circumstance allegations of lying in wait against a man accused of ambushing and killing a female acquaintance as she walked home from a Lemon Grove bar where they had spent the evening together.

Casey Michael Tschida, 32, is charged with murder in the Jan. 3 death of Jennifer Krajnak.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis will decide later whether Tschida will face the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted.

At an earlier hearing, Deputy District Attorney Gordon Paul Davis said the defendant and the 30-year-old victim were together for about three hours at Dirk’s Niteclub on Broadway beginning around 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 2.

Tschida left the bar about 1:30 a.m., returned 15 minutes later with his car’s headlights off and shot Krajnak in the head as she crossed the street toward her nearby apartment, the prosecutor alleged.

Krajnak died about 30 minutes later. No motive has been disclosed.

After the shooting, Tschida went to his home about seven miles away, where he collected rifles, clothing, camping equipment and his dog, then drove 20 hours to his mother’s home in Happy Valley, Ore., Davis alleged.

San Diego County sheriff’s Detective Troy DuGal testified at a preliminary hearing in May that Tschida’s mother told him that her son showed up unannounced the evening of Jan. 3.

“She was shocked,” DuGal said of the mother’s reaction.

Tschida’s mother could tell something was amiss and asked her son “What’s wrong?” and he replied, “Do you really want to know?”, according to DuGal.

When the mother answered yes, Tschida told her, “I killed somebody,” the detective testified.

Tschida’s stepfather said the defendant told him, “I snapped. I shot someone. I think I may have killed them,” according to DuGal.

Jennifer KrajnakDetective Norman Hubbert testified that Krajnak’s blood was found on the driver’s side armrest in Tschida’s truck.

Video recovered in the area where Krajnak was shot shows someone confronting her, he said.

Tschida left the bar at 1:30 a.m., and the victim left at 1:43 a.m, according to the surveillance video, Hubbert said.

Krajnak’s phone records showed she sent Tschida a text, asking if he wanted to “come over for a shot?” Hubbert said. Tschida answered, “Sure I’ll be over in a minute,” the detective testified.

According to sheriff’s investigators, the two were only acquaintances and did not have a romantic relationship.

“Apparently, they had seen each other socially once, but there was no ongoing relationship,” the prosecutor told reporters at an earlier hearing.

A 9 mm handgun believed to have been used in the murder was recovered in Oregon after Tschida allegedly threw it out of his vehicle, Davis said.


Casey Michael Tschida

LEMON GROVE, Calif. – A suspect in the murder of Jennifer Krajnak was arrested in Oregon after San Diego sheriff’s homicide investigators determined his identity, a lieutenant said.

Casey Tschida, 32, was identified as 30-year-old Krajnak’s killer after an exhaustive investigation, homicide Lt. Glenn Giannantonio.

“Ms. Krajnak and Tschida were acquaintances and were at a bar in Lemon Grove prior to the murder. The two left the bar at separate times and Tschida approached Ms. Krajnak as she was walking home.” Giannantonio said. “Tschida shot her once in the head and left her lying in the street. There is no motive for the murder.”

Investigators tracked Tschida to his mother’s residence in Happy Valley, Oregon, he said.

“An arrest warrant was obtained for Tschida and he was taken into custody by the Portland Police Bureau,” he said.

Homicide investigators are enroute to Oregon to continue their probe and take steps to get Tschida returned to San Diego, Giannantonio said.

Deputies driving through an East County neighborhood at 2 a.m. Thursday found Krajnak fatally wounded in front of an apartment complex at Olive Street and Pacific Avenue in Lemon Grove.

Paramedics took her to Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, where she was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, Giannantonio said.

Jennifer KrajnakSAN DIEGO – A woman found on the side of an East County road dying from a wound to her head was identified Thursday afternoon.

Two deputies found 30-year-old Jennifer Rene Krajnak in front of apartments at Olive Street and Pacific Avenue in Lemon Grove about 2 a.m. Thursday, San Diego County sheriff’s Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said. Paramedics took her to Scripps Mercy Hospital where she was declared dead about 30 minutes later.

Investigators found shell casings where Krajnak was found, but would not say if Krajnak’s injuries were from a bullet.

Detectives declared her death a homicide.

Anyone with information about the incident has been asked to call San Diego Sheriff’s homicide unit at 858-974-2321 or after hours at 858-565-5200. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

LEMON GROVE, Calif. — A sheriff’s deputy on patrol found an injured woman on a Lemon Grove street early Thursday and she died a short time later after being taken to a hospital, a lieutenant said.

Lemon Grove HomicideThe deputy was driving around when he spotted the woman at Pacific Avenue and Olive Street around 2 a.m., according to San Diego County sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Menzies.

She had facial injuries, Menzies said, noting she also may have had other injuries as well.

The woman died at Scripps Mercy Hospital shortly upon arrival.

Homicide detectives were investigating.