10 Notable Crime or Investigative Stories in San Diego Over the Last Decade (2023)


At the end of the decade, the Union-Tribune took a look back at some of the most notable, headline-grabbing, and heartbreaking crime and law enforcement stories in San Diego County since 2010.

Among them are a registered sex offender who kidnapped, raped and killed two teenage North County girls a year apart, a man who opened fire at a University City pool party and killed a mother of three, and a College student accused of shooting a Poway synagogue, killing one congregant and wounding others.

Here are 10 of the crimes or cases that have rocked the region over the past decade:


10 Notable Crime or Investigative Stories in San Diego Over the Last Decade (1)

John Albert Gardner III reacts angrily to what one of his victims had to say to him during his sentencing.

(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

201017-year-old high school grad Chelsea King went missing while running at Lake Hodges in Rancho Bernardo in late February. Within days, convicted sex offender John Albert Gardner III was arrested and charged with the rape and murder in her death. Gardner also soon admitted to the rape and murder of missing Escondido high school freshman Amber DuBois, 14, who disappeared on her way to school a year earlier. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

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Leaflets containing photos of the missing McStay family distributed by the family in San Ysidro on Saturday, April 3, 2010. The McStay family vehicle, a white 1996 Isuzu Trooper, was found abandoned in a San Ysidro parking lot on February 8.

(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

2010early February, the The McStay family of Fallbrook disappeared. In late 2013, the remains of family members -- Joseph, 40, Summer, 43, and sons Gianni, 4, and Joey Jr., 3 -- were found in shallow graves in the San Bernardino County desert. In 2019, a jury convicted business partner and McStay family friend Charles "Chase" Merritt of murder. The 62-year-old welder now faces a life sentence without parole or death.

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Rebecca Zahau

(Courtesy of Greer and collaborators)

2011Rebecca Zahau, 32, was found dead at the Spreckles Mansion in Coronado on July 13, two days after her boyfriend's 6-year-old son in her care was seriously injured in a fall. Zahau was found with her hands tied behind her back, her feet tied and a t-shirt in her mouth. Authorities ruled her death a suicide. But Zahaus's family blamed her boyfriend's visiting brother, Adam Shacknai, for finding her body and calling 911. He firmly denied her allegations. You sued. Last year a civil jury found him liable for Zahaus's death.

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The Sheriff's Department issued a missing person's report for Brittany Killgore on April 15. Her body was found on April 17 at Lake Skinner in Riverside County.

( / Sheriff's Department)

2012Brittany Killgore, 22, Marine, disappeared from Fallbrook on April 13 and her naked body was found days later in Riverside County. Investigators would soon charge three people - then Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Ray Perez, girlfriend Dorothy Grace Marie Maraglino and alleged "sex slave" Jessica Lopez - of a plot to lure Killgore under false pretenses to Maraglino's home in Fallbrook, where she was killed . Prosecutors alleged during the trio's six-week trial in Vista Superior Court that they lived a lifestyle of bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism, or BDSM, and succumbed to their fantasies by kidnapping Killgore, which was not part of that lifestyle. Each of the three is serving life in prison without parole.
2013Sixteen-year-old cheerleader Hannah Anderson went missing in Lakeside, and the search for her sparked the first nationwide Amber Alert on cellphones. Her mother, Christina Anderson, and her little brother, Ethan, were found dead at the home of family friend James DiMaggio, 40. Authorities suspected he killed the mother and son, set the house on fire, and kidnapped Hannah. The week-long search for the teenage girl ended at a remote campground in central Idaho, where an FBI agent shot and killed DiMaggio.

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Jon David Guerrero, suspected of killing three homeless men and wounding two others, is arrested by San Diego police in July 2016. He is also a suspect in the murder of a sixth victim, an 83-year-old San Diego woman.

(San Diego News Video)

2016Jon David Guerrero, now 42, was arrested in July after a brutal crime and rampage in which authorities say he drove railroad spikes into some of his victims and set two people on fire. Most of those affected were homeless. Guerrero has pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder. The case is still pending.

2016San Diego authorities announced that Tieray Jones, the stepfather of two-year-old Jahi Turner, had been arrested on suspicion of killing the child some 14 years after the tot's disappearance. Three years after Jones' arrest, a jury stalled, and the trial judge dismissed the murder case.

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Remnants of a birthday party in the pool area of ​​the La Jolla Crossroads Apartments in University City show the chaotic scene after a Sunday night shooting. Peter Selis, 49, openly fired at the crowded pool party. Seven people were injured.

(K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

2017A 49-year-old man with a beer in one hand and a gun in the other suddenly opened fire at a birthday pool party in University City on April 30, killing one and injuring seven others. Peter Selis, sitting in a poolside chair at the La Jolla Crossroads apartment complex, opened fire - without warning - with a Sig Sauer .45 caliber. Police said he also called his new ex-girlfriend and let her listen as he repeated the trigger pulled. The attack killed 35-year-old Monique Clark, the mother of three daughters. Selis was fatally shot by the police.

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As he is led out of the courtroom after his arraignment at the Vista Courthouse in June 2018, former NFL player Kellen Winslow II gazes at the gallery where his father Kellen Winslow, also a former NFL player, sits.

(Hayne Palmour IV/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

2018In June, Former NFL player Kellen Winslow II was arrested and charged with raping homeless women and committing other sex crimes against women of middle age or older in Encinitas. After being convicted of one rape and two misdemeanors, including indecent exposure, he later pled guilty to other sex crimes. Winslow II, once an NFL first-round draft pick and the league's highest-paid tight end, faces between 12 and 18 years of age at his sentencing in February.

2019A gunman attacked Chabad of Poway, killing believer Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, and wounding three others, including the synagogue's founding rabbi and a child. Alleged gunman and Cal State San Marcos student John T. Earnest, then 19, of Rancho Peñasquitos, was arrested shortly after the shooting. Shortly before the ambush, someone posing as Earnest posted an anti-Semitic manifesto online, which was also blamed for lighting a fire outside an Escondido mosque. Earnest has pleaded not guilty in state court to three counts of murder, attempted murder and hate crime charges. He was also charged in federal court.

Headline news for the past decade has included the deaths of three San Diego Police Department officers on the job.

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Officer Christopher Wilson was fatally shot on October 27, 2010.

Officer Christopher Wilson, a 17-year veteran,was shot dead four days before Halloween in 2010 during a firefight that broke out while he was helping parole officers and US Marshals arrest a fugitive at a Skyline apartment. The suspected shooter, who is wanted for assault with a deadly weapon, was not the wanted fugitive that day. But he and a woman with him killed each other. Another man, who was taken from the home before shots were fired, was sentenced to more than 90 years in prison, in part for failing to tell police there were other people, guns and drugs in the home.

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Officer Jeremy Henwood was fatally shot on August 6, 2011.

Officer Jeremy Henwood, 36, was on patrol on August 6, 2011 when he was fatally shot by a motorist who pulled up beside his squad car, raised a gun and opened fire. Motorist Dejon White - who had just shot a stranger in the face in El Cajon - was shot dead by police a short time later after refusing to surrender. Less than five minutes before the robbery, CCTV caught Henwood buying cookies for a young boy at a City Heights McDonald's.

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San Diego Police Officer Jonathan De Guzman was killed on July 28, 2016

Officer Jonathan "JD" de Guzman, 43, died and Officer Wade Irwin was wounded on July 28, 2016 in the Southcrest neighborhood of San Diego. The officers assigned to the gang suppression team pulled over their squad car to speak to two men. One walked away, the other opened fire and shot Irwin in the throat. The shooter then shot De Guzman, who was still in the driver's seat. Irwin returned fire, wounding the gunner. De Guzman died in a hospital. The suspected shooter, Jesse Gomez, was found unconscious in a nearby ravine with a gunshot wound to the abdomen and a gun lying nearby. The 58-year-old faces trial in April.

Political names and criminal investigations have also clashed in the region over the past decade. Notable among them:

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July 26, 2013 -- San Diego, California -- At a morning press conference at his office on July 26, 2013, embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner announced that he would be involved in a two-week program to get him on the road to bring correct his inappropriate behavior towards women. At the time, he said he would not resign. Weeks later he resigned.

(John Gibbins)

In the summer of 2013, less than a year after he was elected head of San Diego, allegations of sexual harassment at the time became persistent.Mayor Bob Filnerand calls for his resignation grew louder. In August, Filner resigned. In October he pleaded guilty to the felony, false imprisonment and two counts of assault involving three women.

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In this 2014 file photo, Jose Susumo Azano Matsura enters San Diego Federal Court with his attorneys.

(KC Alfred)

In 2017, a wealthy Mexican businessman convicted of illegal campaign contributions that sparked a major political corruption scandal was sentenced to three years in prison.José Susumo Azano Matsura, who did not have permanent status in the US, was arrested in 2014 and accused of funneling nearly $600,000 to candidates in the 2012 San Diego mayoral race, including then-prosecutor Bonnie Dumanis and former mayor Bob Filner. A federal jury in 2016 found Azano guilty on 35 charges of conspiracy and illegal donations. He was later convicted of illegal gun possession.

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Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, exits a federal courthouse in San Diego December 3, 2019 after pleading guilty in a year-long campaign finance investigation.

(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

2018,US Representative Duncan D. Hunterand his wife have been charged in a full federal indictment with using more than $250,000 in political donations to pay for personal expenses, from private school fees for their children to spending $600 in airfare on the family pet. The Alpine Republican was also accused of using the money to pay for extramarital affairs. Earlier this year, Ms Margaret pled guilty to one charge of conspiracy and agreed to become a cooperating witness. Earlier this month, on December 3, the congressman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to convert campaign funds for personal use. Hunter has announced that he will be giving up his 50th Precinct seat after the holiday.

Union-Tribune contributor Merrie Monteagudo contributed to this report.

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