California homeless attack linked to string of murders, 1 detained

Posted at 7:00 AM, Jul 15, 2016

SAN DIEGO -- A man was detained and was being questioned in connection with an assault on homeless man in Golden Hill early Friday morning that investigators believe is linked to four other brutal attacks earlier this month that left three men dead and a fourth gravely injured.  

Shortly before 4:30 a.m., a 55-year-old man was beaten while asleep in the area of 19th and C streets. San Diego police officers responded and found the bloodied victim with significant trauma to his torso, San Diego police Capt. Dave Nisleit told reporters in a morning briefing. 
He was transported to a local hospital but is expected to survive. 
A little before 5:45 a.m., a man was taken into custody in the area of Laurel and Brant streets in Bankers Hill. Nisleit confirmed the detained man was being questioned in connection with the attack. His name was not disclosed. 
Nisleit confirmed the attack is likely connected to a slew of four others that occurred between July 3-6. 
"There is no doubt in my mind, this is part of our series,” Nisleit said. “This will be linked to the first case that happened on July 3. And we had the two cases on July 4 and the additional case on July 6."
Nisleit said the detained man is not 36-year-old Anthony Alexander Padgett, who was arrested on July 7 in connection with the attacks, but released Monday after SDPD officials said they did not have enough evidence to hold him.
Padgett was convicted of assault and mayhem for setting a sleeping man on fire in National City in 2010 and was sentenced to four years in prison. He blamed drugs for the attack and said he only intended to scare the victim.

"It is not Mr. Padgett," Nisleit declared. 

Meanwhile, another homeless man reported being attacked Friday morning at around the same time as the Golden Hill incident. The man said he was struck on the head with an object while at 2nd Avenue and Cedar Street in the downtown area. He told officers his attacker was riding a bicycle. He said he had bent down to tie his shoes when he was hit, sustaining a head wound. He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. 
Nisleit could not immediately confirm whether this attack was connected to the Golden Hill assault. 
On the morning of July 3, the body of 53-year-old Angelo De Nardo of San Diego was found in an open area off the 2700 block of Morena Boulevard in Bay Park. An autopsy determined that De Nardo died prior to being set on fire.
Sixty-one-year-old Manuel Mason was found severely wounded in an area near Valley View Casino Center in the Midway district shortly before 5 a.m. on the Fourth of July.
Less than 90 minutes after the assault on Mason, 41-year-old Shawn Longley was found dead at a park on Bacon Street in Ocean Beach.
About 5 a.m. on July 6, 23-year-old Dionicio Derek Vahidy was gravely injured in the area of Broadway and State Street, and a towel he was sleeping under was doused with a flammable liquid and set ablaze, according to police. Vahidy died in a hospital Sunday afternoon.
On Thursday, police released a new sketch of the suspect.