San Diego

Man Accused of Killing East Village Business Owner Was Once Known as ‘Wishing Well Bandit'

The defendant got the nickname when he admitted to a series of brutal crimes at a National City water well in the late 80s

The man charged in the killing of an East Village business owner was once known as the "Wishing Well Bandit" for his role in a series of brutal beatings on elderly victims.

Kevin Cartwright, 51, was 21 years old when he admitted to robbing and beating several elderly citizens at a water well in National City in 1989. The crimes landed him in prison for a decade.

Cartwright pleaded not guilty to murder charges Friday in connection to the death of 49-year-old Ghedeer Tony Radda. Radda was found dead inside Bottom Price Flooring on G Street on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Police said Radda wasn't breathing and had no pulse when they arrived. Firefighters arrived minutes later and performed CPR but could not resuscitate him, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators reviewed surveillance footage from inside the store and saw a man wearing a mask resembling an older woman with grey hair, and a woman wearing what appeared to be a long purple wig.

Prosecutors said Friday that the woman lured Radda to the back of the store where Cartwright shot him multiple times before stealing money from the register.

Cartwright was arrested in the City of El Cajon on Oct. 17. Police are still searching for the woman.

Cartwright could face a life sentence if he's convicted on special circumstance murder charges.

"The guy's done it before, I just don't understand why he targeted Ghedeer," Radda's cousin Venus said.

The prosecutor did not say whether Cartwright and Radda knew each other or did business together, and he did not reveal how investigators were able to identify Cartwright as the disguised man in the video.

Investigators have not identified a motive in the killing, which Radda's cousin says is another piece to the puzzle.

"We still don't really know exactly what the motive was or why he would do that to Ghedeer. At the end of the day, if it was just for money, money comes and goes it's not worth taking a life," Venus told NBC 7 on Thursday.

Anyone with information can call the homicide team at (619) 531-2293 or San Diego CrimeStoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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