Police Believe Three Park Killings Linked
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ The recent murders of three drifters in Balboa Park have been linked to a single killer, and police are urging male transients and homosexuals to avoid the park at night.
″We are worried that there is someone out there who may kill again,″ Sgt. Hank Olias said Monday.
″We know that two of the three victims were transients and at least two were homosexual,″ he said.
The type of gun used is the common link among the slayings, said police spokesman Dave Cohen, who declined to elaborate. Each victim died of multiple gunshot wounds in the separate shootings over the past two weeks.
″Single men by themselves in the park after dark should use extreme care,″ Deputy Police Chief Mike Rice said. ″There is someone out there who has already killed three of them.″
Police assigned extra patrol units to the park Monday night to increase surveillance and warn park users of the danger.
Up to several hundred drifters are estimated to seek shelter at night in the sprawling park, which is less than one mile north of downtown San Diego.
″It fluctuates,″ said department spokesman Bill Robinson. ″No one has been able to conduct a tally, but it’s been as high as in the hundreds because many hide in the canyons.″
Homicide detectives refused to discuss evidence related to the killings, saying through Robinson only that their investigation has ″conclusively linked three recent homicides in Balboa Park.″
″Right now, they’re playing it pretty close to the vest because it is a new series that we’ve just been able to put together,″ Robinson said.
The series began with the Nov. 19 discovery of the body of transient David Siino, 31. Olias said he was staying at a downtown hotel and had been in the San Diego area for the past eight months.
The body of Edward Hope, 60, was found Friday. Hope, who had been dead for three to five days, is believed to have arrived from Nevada days before his death, Olias said.
The most recent victim was identified as Brian Poole, 36, a transient from Torrington, Conn., whose body was found Saturday in a park bathroom. He apparently had been living out of his car, which was parked nearby, Olias said.
None of the victims apparently had local jobs or knew either of the others, said Olias, who emphasized that it isn’t known whether the killer is targeting gay men, transients or both.
The restroom where Poole was killed has a longstanding reputation as a meeting place for homosexuals, said Olais, who noted it’s also in an area of the park where a sharp rise in assaults and burglaries last month prompted police to temporarily increase patrols.
Police blamed most of the earlier crime wave on a band of illegal aliens, but Lt. Phil Jarvis said he doesn’t think the recent killings are related.
″Based on what we know, we don’t think we have seen the same person,″ Jarvis said. ″There is no evidence (in the recent shootings) of robbery.″