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Cold Cases 1976 - 1980

Fugitive Suspect
Photo of Fugitive Suspect Antonio Zavala

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Fugitive Suspect: Antonio "Oso" Ponce Zavala

Victim: Victor Alcantara

Date: August 15, 1979

Address: 4080 Beta Street

Synopsis: The suspect Antonio Ponce Zavala is wanted for the murder of 10-year-old Victor Alcantara that occurred on August 15, 1979 at 4080 Beta Street. There is an outstanding felony arrest warrant charging Zavala with murder.

On August 15, 1979 Zavala, along with another male and female, went to Alcantara's residence and confronted Alcantara regarding drugs and money. Alcantara was subsequently shot, beaten and stabbed. Alcantara's roommate later returned home and found Alcantara on the floor wounded. Alcantara was still conscious and when asked "Who did this?" he replied, "Oso." Alcantara subsequently died of his wounds. Witnesses identified a photo of Zavala as "Oso."

Zavala is a Hispanic male born 3-26-46. He is 5'10" tall and weights 200 lbs., with black hair and brown eyes. He is soft-spoken and not fluent in English. At the time of the incident Zavala had an unfinished tattoo of a peacock on his right forearm. It is believed that he has contacts in Tijuana, Mexico.

Photo Not Available

Victim: Joseph Davis

Date: May 19, 1976

Address: 5251 Cushman Street

Synopsis: Joseph Davis, age 65, and his wife Adel, age 70, lived in a small house on Cushman Place in Bay Park. Davis was a self-employed swap meet buyer and seller. He was known to carry large amounts of cash on his person, sometimes using a money belt.

On Saturday night, May 15, 1976, the Davis' answered a knock on the door and were confronted at gunpoint by an unknown intruder. The intruder tied up Davis and his wife, ransacked the house and eventually fled, leaving the elderly couple tied up.

After the robber fled, neither Davis nor his wife could free themselves. They remained tied up, without food or water, from Saturday evening until the following Wednesday, when they were discovered by their housekeeper. Mrs. Davis survived but her husband did not. Davis was a diabetic which meant he was unable to survive for such a long time without food and water.

Davis' car, which the suspect stole, was found abandoned in an apartment complex a few days later. The suspect was described as a white male, 25-35 years old, 6' tall and weighing about 200 lbs., with a dark, heavy beard and long, scraggly hair.

The suspect may have known Davis from seeing him at swap meets.

Fugitive Suspect
Photo of Fugitive Suspect Nico Sandoval

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Fugitive Suspect
Photo of Fugitive Suspect Nico Sandoval

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Fugitive Suspect
Photo of Fugitive Suspect Nico Sandoval

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Fugitive Suspect: Nico Sandoval

Victim: Ambrose Soniga

Date: September 19, 1976

Address: 300 University Place

Synopsis: Nicholas "Nico" Llamas Sandoval (1-29-40) is wanted for the murder of Ambrose Soniga that occurred on September 19, 1976. There is an outstanding felony warrant charging Sandoval with 187(a) P.C. (Murder).

Nicholas Sandoval was described at the time of the crime as being a Hispanic male, 5'6" tall and 135 lbs with black hair and brown eyes. He also used the names: Antonio Macias Rodriguez, Rudy Castillo and Nicholas Sandoval Llamas, and also used 1-22-43 as a date of birth. Sandoval had the following tattoos at the time of the crime: (1.) Girl sitting in long stem champagne glass on his right upper back; 2) Letters "N" "L" "L" "S" on his upper left arm; 3) "Nico" on his left upper breast; 4 ) A clover leaf on his left inner forearm; 5) A nude and a snake and the name "Lilly" on his right upper arm, and 6) A shooting star on his right forearm.

The murder for which Sandoval is charged occurred in the alley behind 300 University Place in Hillcrest.

The victim, Ambrose Soniga, was with a group of friends, one of whom, a young lady, invited the group back to her home. When the group walked in to the house, the young lady's estranged boyfriend, Nicolas Sandoval, was sitting on the couch cradling a 20-gauge shotgun in his lap. Words were exchanged, at which point the group of friends left the house. Sandoval followed Soniga out to his car parked in the alley and shot Soniga in the chest. While Soniga laid on the ground dying, Sandoval pummeled Soniga's head with the butt of the shotgun. Sandoval then fled on foot leaving the shotgun at the scene.

The suspect Nico Sandoval has a history of arrests in San Diego and has served time in numerous correctional institutes. At the time of the crime he had a wife and children in Tijuana, Mexico.
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Fugitive Suspect
Photo of Fugitive Suspect Jorge Arvizu

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Fugitive Suspect: Jorge Arvizu

Victim: Mario Rinaldi

Date: November 23, 1976

Address: 28th Street and National Avenue

Synopsis: Jorge Luis Esparza Arvizu (2-14-54) is wanted for the murder of Mario Rinaldi that occurred on November 23, 1976. There is an outstanding felony warrant charging Arvizu with 187(a) P.C. (Murder).

Jorge Arvizu, also known as Jorge Esparza, was described as a Hispanic male, 5'8" and 135 pounds at the time of the crime. He was a heroin addict and burglar known on the streets as "Sucker."

The murder for which Arvizu is charged occurred at the Green Valley Market at 28th Street & National Avenue in San Diego. The victim, Marion Rinaldi, was working as a clerk at the market when Arvizu walked in. Arvizu loitered in and around the store for some time without buying anything. Then, for no apparent reason, Arvizu suddenly attacked Rinaldi and stabbed him several times in the back. Rinaldi stumbled out of the market and collapsed on the sidewalk, where he died. Arvizu fled the scene. Arvizu was subsequently arrested by U.S. Immigration officers and released back to Mexico; it was only after he disappeared into Mexico that he was identified as a suspect in this case.

Photo of Victim Ana Diaz

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Victim: Ana Diaz

Date: July 18, 1978

Address: 2426 Grove Street

Synopsis: Ana Mercedes Zamora Diaz, 23, was found murdered on July 18, 1978, in a salvage yard on Grove Street in Nestor.

Diaz was a native of Ecuador. In the beginning of July, 1978, she traveled from Ecuador to Tijuana with a friend, Apolonia (Italia) Zamora Toledo, age 47, whose family in the United States had made arrangements to have both women smuggled across the border. The women were supposed to make the crossing with a trusted family contact, but they missed their connection and ended up falling into the hands of another smuggler known as "Chino El Boxeador."

Around noon on July 4, 1978, the two women, led by "Chino," made the crossing into the United States. Shortly after they crossed, a Border Patrol chopper flying overhead caused the group to scatter, run and hide. "Chino" and Diaz escaped arrest. Toledo tried to hide but she was quickly located and arrested by Border Patrol, and eventually deported back to Ecuador. She never saw Diaz alive again and had no way of knowing what had happened to her, or whether or not Diaz had joined back up with "Chino" afterward.

No one from Diaz's family, or anyone else, ever heard from her after July 4, 1978.

On July 18, 1978, a worker walking through a remote area of a salvage yard at 2426 Grove Street (located near the border in Nestor) found Diaz's badly decomposed body on the ground beneath a water truck. Diaz had been bludgeoned to death and, based on the position of her clothing, sexually assaulted.

"Chino" was identified as Jorge Alvarado Sandoval, a Hispanic male born 10-5-50. Detectives interviewed "Chino" and he denied having any involvement in Diaz's death. In fact, he denied ever meeting her. Sandoval is still a person of interest in this case.

Detectives would like to locate and interview Diaz's friend Apolonia Zamora Toledo, a.k.a. "Italia" Toledo. She is a Hispanic female with a date of birth of 8-26-32 whose husband Jesus Toledo lived in New York at the time of the crime.

Victim: Nantais
Photo of Victim Barbara Nantais

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Victims: Barbara Nantais, 15

Date: August 13, 1978

Address: Torrey Pines State Beach

Synopsis: On the morning of August 13, 1978, police officers responded to Torrey Pines State Beach where passers-by found the body of 15-year-old Barbara Nantais lying on the sand. Nantais had been strangled and beaten to death, and one of her breasts had been severed. Nantais' boyfriend, with whom she had gone to the beach the night before, was also discovered nearby suffering from a severe head wound that left him semi-conscious and with no memory of the attack. The evidence at the scene suggested that an unknown suspect attacked Nantais and her boyfriend while they were lying together on the beach.

Although this case and the case of Claire Hough (August 24, 1984) occurred six years apart, similarities in the cases suggest both were committed by the same perpetrator.

Victim: Watson
Photo of Victim Haley "Butch" Watson

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Victim: Terry Pahl (vehicle)
Photo of Fugitive Suspect's Vehicle

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Victims: Halley "Butch" Watson (pictured) and Terry Pahl (photo not available)

Date: December 3 & 4, 1978

Address: Pahl murder occurred at 3519 30th Street
Watson murder occurred at 2101 Fern Street

Synopsis: At about 2 a.m. on December 3, 1978 Terry Pahl, 21, went to wash and dry his clothes at an all-night coin laundromat at 3519 30th Street. The laundromat was in an isolated residential-business area and Pahl went alone. About an hour later, the laundromat's owner stopped by on a routine check of his business and found Pahl's body face down on the floor at the rear of the laundromat. Pahl had been shot twice in the back of the head at close range. Responding police officers discovered Pahl's wallet and keys were missing, as well as his vehicle a blue 1975 Chevrolet pick-up truck (pictured).

At about 1:00 a.m. the following morning, December 4, 1978, a customer walked into the 7-11 Store at 2101 Fern Street in South Park discovered the store clerk, 24-year-old Halley "Butch" Watson, lying dead on the floor behind the counter. Watson had been killed by a single gunshot wound to the head fired from close range, and the cash register had been emptied. The suspect may have gotten away with $39.

The Laundromat and the 7-11 store were on the same street about 14 blocks apart, and the murders both occurred at about the same time of morning, one day apart. Ballistics tests showed that both Pahl and Watson were killed with the same gun, a .22 revolver. There was no evidence of resistance by either victim.

Pahl's truck was recovered the day after Watson's murder, abandoned and disabled on southbound I-5 at Main Street. The suspect(s) remain at large.

Butch Watson was an accomplished skateboarder and engaged to be married. Pahl was in the U.S. Navy and enjoyed playing pool.

Southland Corporation has offered a $5000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects in the murder of Halley "Butch" Watson Junior.

Photo of Nikki Bedke

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Victim: Nikki Bedke, 41 year old mother of five

Date: January 31, 1980

Address: 7655 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard

Synopsis: On Thursday evening, January 31, 1980, Nikki Bedke went shopping for a birthday present for one of her children. Her last stop took her to the K-Mart Store at 7655 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard. Investigators believe Bedke was abducted from the parking lot of the K-Mart while walking back to her car.

A short time later, Bedke's body was found in the back seat of her car, a white Mercedes, which was parked a few blocks from the K-Mart on 7300 Ronson Road. Bedke had been strangled to death.

A number of jewelry items were missing and believed taken by the suspect.

Several witnesses described a possible suspect, who was a black male prowling the K-Mart parking lot shortly before Bedke disappeared. They described him as a black male in his 20's, 6' 3" to 6' 4" with an athletic build, a light complexion and a thin moustache, and possibly a mole on his left cheek.

Photo of Daniel Burns

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Victim: Daniel Burns

Date: April 14, 1980

Address: 7700 Nightingale Way

Synopsis: Daniel Lynn Burns, 42, also known as "Doc" lived in the 7700 block of Nightingale Way in the University Heights area. He was an alumnus of San Jose State University and many of his acquaintances described him as a sports fanatic and a huge fan of the San Jose State football team.

Daniel worked at Naval Ocean Systems Center in the supply department. He was well liked by all his co-workers and described as a very animated and joyful person. On Monday April 14, 1980 Daniel did not show up for work. When a fellow co-worker attempted to check on him and received no answer he became concerned and contacted the San Diego Police Department. When officers entered Daniel's condo they discovered Daniel's body; he had been strangled to death and the residence had been ransacked. Daniel was last seen alive on Sunday night April 13, 1980 at the Monte Carlo Club.

Fugitive Suspect
Photo of Fugitive Suspect Sergio Rangel

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Victim: Ruben Gonzalez

Fugitive Suspect : Sergio Rangel

Date: October 16, 1980

Address: 3100 Greely Street

Synopsis: Sergio Medina Rangel is wanted for the murder of Ruben Gonzalez that occurred in the south alley of 3100 Greely Street on October 16, 1980. There is an outstanding felony arrest warrant charging Rangel with murder.

The victim Ruben Gonzalez was the owner of San Diego Auto Trim. On the afternoon of October 16, 1980, Gonzalez became involved in an argument and altercation with two men. The altercation escalated and one of the two men ended up stabbing Gonzalez to death in an alley near the business. A witness yelled to the attackers that he called the police and the suspects ran.

The suspect who stabbed Gonzalez was identified as Sergio Merino Rangel, a.k.a. "Guaripas" a known gang member from the neighborhood. Rangel had a lengthy criminal record and had been contacted by police many times prior to the stabbing. About a year after the murder, a police officer stopped a man, possibly Rangel, in connection with forged or stolen checks. The man escaped after attacking the officer and was never apprehended.

Rangel is a Hispanic male, 5'10" 165 lbs, black hair and brown eyes. He has several tattoos including the words "Logan Heights" on his back; "Sergio" and two birds on his right upper arm; and a picture of a female face and breast on his right lower arm.
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Fugitive Suspect
Drawing of Fugitive Suspect

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Victim: Julia Wilkinson

Date: December 27, 1980

Address: 4687 Wightman Avenue

Synopsis: SDPD officers were called to Julia Wilkinson's home after neighbors heard screams and found Wilkinson lying on the floor of her garage suffering from severe head wounds. Wilkinson died a short time later. An investigation revealed that Wilkinson was chased from her home into her garage by an unknown male who cornered her and attacked her with a hammer. Neighbors reported seeing a male hanging around in the area behaving strangely a short time before the attack. They described him as a white male, age 25-35, about 6' tall with dark medium-length hair that was bushy on top. The male was clean-shaven and wearing a green military-type jacket. (See sketch of fugitive suspect pictured above.)

Last Updated August 2008


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