Suspect in California Serial Killings Is Charged With 4 More

A man described by the police as a serial killer who terrorized residents in California’s Central Valley has been charged in connection with four additional killings, bringing the death toll to seven, the authorities said.

The man, Wesley Brownlee, 43, was arrested in October when the police found him carrying a gun while, the authorities said, he was “out hunting” for more victims at night in Stockton, Calif. The series of seemingly random killings had rattled the public and prompted an outpouring of tips.

Mr. Brownlee had initially been charged in October with three counts of murder in connection with the deaths of three Stockton residents: Jonathan Rodriguez Hernandez, 21, who died on Aug. 30; Juan Cruz, 52, who died on Sept. 21; and Lawrence Lopez Sr., 54, who died on Sept. 27.

On Wednesday, Mr. Brownlee was charged with four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, according to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office.

The district attorney, Tori Verber Salazar, said in a statement that she would “ensure justice for these victims.”

Mr. Brownlee also faces weapons charges, with prosecutors saying that he had used an untraceable firearm known as a ghost gun.

Judge John Soldati of the San Joaquin County Superior Court said in October that the minimum sentence on convictions for the original charges would be life in prison. The maximum would be the death penalty.

The Stockton Police Department referred questions to the district attorney’s office, which did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment on Wednesday. The authorities have not discussed any possible motives in the killings.

The new charges came two months after investigators first linked at least five killings across the city of Stockton, which has long struggled with municipal bankruptcy and crime waves. The victims in these killings had been alone in dimly lit areas, at night or in the early morning hours.

The series of crimes had puzzled residents and launched the authorities on a weekslong manhunt. A tip eventually led officers to Mr. Brownlee, whom prosecutors described as a truck driver who had moved to Stockton over the summer.

In the 11-page complaint filed on Tuesday, prosecutors said that Mr. Brownlee fatally shot the four victims linked to the new charges: Juan Alexander Vasquez and Mervin Harmon, both of Alameda County, and Paul Alexander Yaw and Salvador William Debudey Jr., both of San Joaquin County.

Mr. Vasquez was killed on April 10, 2021, and six days later, Mr. Harmon was also killed, the complaint states. That same day — April 16 — Natasha Jeanne Latour was shot multiple times and survived.

Investigators interviewed Ms. Latour and learned that she had been in a tent when she heard someone walking around her campsite. When she stepped outside, she saw someone wearing dark clothes and a mask pointing a gun at her, the authorities said.

She rushed toward the armed man and was shot multiple times before he lowered his gun, the police said.

In 2022, Mr. Brownlee continued his killing spree, according to the complaint: On July 8, he fatally shot Mr. Yaw. A month later, the complaint states, Mr. Brownlee shot and killed Mr. Debudey.

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