Man suspected of multiple attacks on homeless released from police custody

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The 36-year-old man arrested in connection with attacks on four homeless men around San Diego, leaving three of them dead, was released from custody Monday.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, police have not yet completed their investigation into Anthony Alexander Padgett, so no criminal charges have been filed.

Authorities said the investigation is ongoing. San Diego police officials were expected to comment on the latest developments in the case at a 3 p.m. news conference.

According to media reports, 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.

Anyone with information about the attacks is asked to call police at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at (888) 580-8477.

11:30 a.m. — A 36-year-old man accused of carrying out a series of attacks on the homeless over a four-day crime spree is expected to be in court Monday.

Anthony Alexander Padgett was taken into custody Thursday in connection with attacks on four homeless men, three of which have died and one who remains in grave condition. Padgett was booked into San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of arson.

The charges could make him eligible for the death penalty, if special circumstances allegations are filed by the District Attorney’s Office. He is expected to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Authorities have declined to release a suspected motive for the assaults.

Investigators believe Padgett was the suspect seen in surveillance video buying gasoline at a convenience store shortly before the body of the first victim, 53-year-old Angelo De Nardo of San Diego, was found the morning of July 3 in an open area off the 2700 block of Morena Boulevard in Bay Park, said San Diego police Capt. David Nisleit. An autopsy determined that De Nardo died prior to being set on fire.

Padgett is also suspected of wounding 61-year-old Manuel Mason 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 just 90 minutes after Mason was attacked.

A fourth victim, Dionico Derek Vahidy, 23, was pronounced dead at a San Diego hospital just before 1 p.m. Sunday. He was homeless and from San Diego, according to San Diego Police Homicide Lt. Manny Del Toro.

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. In a letter written during the trial, Padgett blamed drugs for the attack and said he only intended to scare his friend.

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Categories: Local San Diego News