SAN DIEGO – A man who killed four people, including three homeless men, and attacked several others throughout San Diego during a spree of attacks that began nearly five years ago was sentenced Tuesday to four life- without-parole state prison terms, plus 143 years to life.
Jon David Guerrero, 43, pleaded guilty nearly a year ago in connection with attacks on more than a dozen victims between February and July of 2016, some of whom were set on fire, bludgeoned, or impaled with railroad spikes.
Most of the attacks occurred in the summer months, with some of the victims set on fire, while others were bludgeoned, or impaled with railroad spikes.
A definitive motive was never disclosed, though preliminary hearing testimony indicated Guerrero told his first victim that he attacked him “because you’re a bum.”
Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey said Guerrero targeted “members of our most vulnerable community” and described the attacks as “brutal, gruesome and horrific.”
Guerrero’s attorney, Danesh Tandon, told the court his client was being held accountable for his crimes, but noted, “Mr. Guerrero is severely mentally ill. I don’t think anybody doubts that.”
Tandon said Guerrero’s parents tried in vain for many years to obtain mental health treatment for their son and said such treatment has proven beneficial during Guerrero’s various state hospital stays since his 2016 arrest.
Linda Gramlick, the mother of Shawn Longley, 41, who was stabbed with a railroad spike in Ocean Beach, told Guerrero, “You took away a piece of my heart that I’ll never, ever get back and I will never ever forgive you for that. Never.”
Gramlick said her son was born in San Diego and the family moved out of state when he was young, yet San Diego was always in his heart.
“He would always tell me, `Mom, I’m going back to San Diego someday and I’m going to stay there for good,”‘ Gramlick said.
In 2016, he was able to move back to “his beloved San Diego,” where he was “murdered by a monster for no reason,” she said. “Jon Guerrero must die for that. One way or another, he must die.”
Prosecutors say Guerrero’s crime spree began on Feb. 8, 2016, when he stabbed a man who was sleeping on a sidewalk. That victim survived.
The rest of the crimes he admitted committing occurred in June and July of that year, including the July 3 burning death of Angelo De Nardo, 53, whose body was found underneath an Interstate 5 off-ramp near the 2700 block of Morena Boulevard in Bay Park. Witnesses described seeing a man running across the freeway near Clairemont Drive, carrying a gas can.
The following day, Shawn Longley was found dead at a park on Bacon Street in Ocean Beach. Investigators believe Guerrero attacked Longley with a railroad spike while the victim was sleeping.
Another transient was severely injured near Valley View Casino Center in the Midway district on the same day Longley’s body was found. Personal items, including identification information from both De Nardo and Longley, were found inside Guerrero’s apartment, Harvey said.
On the morning of July 6, Dionicio Derek Vahidy, 23, was gravely injured in downtown San Diego by an assailant who fled after leaving a towel burning on top of him. Vahidy died in a hospital four days later.
Another attack happened shortly after 4:30 a.m. July 15, when two San Diego Harbor Police officers in a squad car in the 1800 block of C Street heard someone underneath Interstate 5 in the East Village yelling for help. The officers pulled over and found Michael Papadelis, 58, suffering from “significant trauma” to his upper body. Papdelis survived the encounter with Guerrero, but the attack left him blind in one eye.
The defendant was arrested the same day. Guerrero — who was on a bicycle — was carrying a backpack containing a large mallet with apparent blood stains, along with three railroad spikes, Harvey said.
In the months following his arrest, investigators revealed that Guerrero also fatally injured 83-year-old Molly Simons on July 13, 2016, in a North Park alley. Police said Simons was not homeless and lived with her husband. She was struck on the head, Harvey said.
There are no indications that the suspect knew his victims, according to police.