A Paralyzing Fear: Was It Jon Guerrero?

In the summer of 2016, murder came to San Diego in the form of an unknown assailant, who was randomly attacking homeless men, killing some with railroad spikes driven through their head and chest while they slept out in the open. Two men were set on fire. The homeless community was gripped with a paralyzing fear as they searched desperately for sheltered safety. At a court hearing on April 4, 2017, Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey said these vicious attacks extended to other vulnerable individuals, many who were walking alone and struck from behind. On July 13, 2016, 83-year-old Molly Simons was walking to the bus stop in North Park on her way to her volunteer job at the Y.M.C.A. when a man rode by on a bicycle and struck her on the back of her head. She collapsed to the ground and died three weeks later from a skull fracture and brain bled.

Jon Guerrero Is Responsible Says Prosecutor

According to the prosecution, it is Jon David Guerrero, 40, who is responsible for these attacks, which killed or injured 12 innocent people. Guerrero has now been charged with four counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, two counts of arson, and assault on five separate individuals for a rampage of violence spanning five months, beginning on February 8, 2016 and ending on July 15, 2016. The District Attorney is yet to decide whether Guerrero will face the death penalty.

On April 4, 2017, Guerrero appeared for his arraignment in San Diego Superior Court and entered a not guilty plea to all charges. Judge Jeffrey Frasier ordered Guerrero’s face to be tiled as identification remained an issue in the case. One victim was present in the courtroom, as were Guerrero’s family.

Jon Guerrero Has Long History of Mental Illness

Guerrero was arrested on July 15, 2016, but criminal proceedings were halted when issues of his mental competency were raised by Public Defender Dan Tandon. Guerrero has a long history of mental illness. In October of 2016, Guerrero was sent to Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino County, but was returned to San Diego in January after doctors found him to be mentally competent. On March 20, 2017, Judge David Danielson ruled Guerrero mentally competent to stand trial, meaning he understands the charges against him and can assist his attorney in his defense.

The Horrifying and Vicious Attacks

During the arraignment hearing, Attorney Harvey detailed many of the attacks. The first attack occurred on February 8, 2016, when a homeless man who had been asleep on the sidewalk was stabbed in the face and neck with a railroad spike. He chased his attacker, who dropped a flashlight. The flashlight was later determined to contain the DNA of Guerrero.

On June 28, 2016, two men were struck in the back of the head by a man riding by on a bicycle. Their injuries were not fatal.  The next victim was not so lucky.

On July 3, 2016, a homeless man who was sleeping under a bridge in Bay Park was killed when a railroad spike was driven though his head and chest. Harvey said the prosecution learned through videotaped evidence that Guerrero then went to a local gas station where he purchased gas, and came back and set the man on fire.

The next day, July 4, 2016, another man was stabbed with a railroad spike which had been driven into his sinus cavity. He lived, but was blinded. The same day, the dead body of another man in Ocean Beach was found.

On July 6, 2016, a man was set on fire and died.

On July 13, 2016, Molly Simons was attacked and died.

On July 15, 2016, Michael Papadelis was struck in the back of his head and his screams alerted police. Guerrero was caught and arrested shortly thereafter. In Guerrero’s backpack, police found a mallet that appeared to have blood on it and three railroad spikes.

Jon Guerrero Ordered to Stand Trial

Judge Frasier ordered Guerrero to be held without bail. A preliminary hearing is set for July 11, 2017, when it will be determined if there is enough evidence for the case to be set for trial. The questions of why and how did this happen remain heavy in this case.

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About Aleida K. Wahn, Esq.

I am an attorney, award-winning true crime writer, and legal analyst of criminal cases. I cover criminal trials and write stories and books about compelling, gripping, and unforgettable cases that impact our world. I take you into the courtroom in high-profile murder trials, rape cases, crimes of passion, cases involving mental illness, deviant behavior, and more. I have a deep passion for true crime, criminal law, and all aspects of the criminal justice system. I have appeared as an expert on true crime shows, including “48 Hours,” “Snapped,” and “The Dead Files,” and provided legal analysis on high-profile criminal trials on Court TV, the Law & Crime Trial Network, Fox 5 News, ABC 10 News, and KUSI News. I also create and host shows with the Del Mar Television Producers Group, addressing criminal justice and social issues in recent criminal trials.

I provided my insight and legal analysis on Court TV and the Law & Crime Trial Network of the high-profile trial of former NFL star Kellen Winslow Jr. It was a trial that captured the nation as the heralded ex-football star with fame, fortune, and a famous name stood accused of multiple rapes and other sex crimes involving five women. As the trial delved into shocking facts, complicated legal issues, and unexpected twists and turns, I was there for every minute. After the trial, I wrote a book on the case, going behind the headlines to share the extraordinary details of what happened inside the courtroom. Judging Winslow Jr.: From NFL Star to Serial Rapist? Inside the Shocking Rape Trial of Kellen Boswell Winslow II is now available on Amazon.

I am passionate about telling true crime stories, as these penetrating stories have the power to move us all, while highlighting societal issues which need to be addressed. I have personally seen the human devastation which is present in each trial and believe there is a lesson to be learned in every single case. It is through awareness and examining critical issues society can effect change and even make new laws. To learn more, please visit: https://www.aleidalaw.com.

Read about the gripping and unforgettable trials that I have covered in my latest books: