San Diego

‘No Emotion': Police Search for Suspect Who Set Man on Fire

A man who was set on fire by an attempted murder suspect in Oak Park Sunday has been identified as 39-year-old Julio Caesar Edeza the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) confirmed. 

San Diego police released a sketch Monday in the search for the suspect who they say lured Edeza to his truck, doused him in a flammable liquid and lit him on fire. 

“The motive is unknown at this time. We do know that there was no confrontation," Acting Homicide Lieutenant Manny Del Toro said.

Edeza's family, including his two sisters, have been with him at the hospital. They said he is a loving, funny, generous man and although he didn't have much he shared what he could. 

"He'd give the shirt off his back. He'd do anything he could for you," friend Tiffany Rogness said. 

The incident happened at noon Sunday on Pentecost Way in San Diego's Oak Park neighborhood near a Rite Aid, just north of State Route 94, San Diego Police (SDPD) confirmed to NBC 7 San Diego. 

Edeza's cousin and niece said Edeza had a 14-year old son, and family was the most important thing to him. He was a religious man, he loved to cook and had a culinary certification. 

“For him to be treated like that, it’s not fair,” Edeza's niece Erika Jasso said.   "No person deserves to be treated like he did and it hurts me because he’s a loving person.”

Misti Cardenas, a witness and friend of Edeza, said a man got out of his truck, leaving the driver's door open, and walked up to her and Edeza. 

The man asked her for water, Cardenas said, and when she told him she didn't have any, he stared at her with a "weird expression." 

Cardenas said he told Edeza to get in the car and he did. 

She said it was immediate: from head to toe, he was engulfed in flames. 

"I don't know what to say. I just watched him burn," she cried. 

Edeza suffered life-threatening injuries and was taken to UC San Diego's Burn Center, police said. 

"They says it's pretty bad," Rogness said. "His chest and head, hair, face."

The suspect is still at large. Police said the suspect was last seen driving a two-door pickup truck. Cardenas described the suspect as 6-foot, 160 to 180 pounds with a dark beard last seen wearing a red hat, a red shirt and black pants. 

"The expression on his face was that he's either hurt somebody before or he's going to do it again, because there was nothing there, no emotion," Cardenas said. "He'll hurt someone."

Edeza has third degree burns to 85% of his body and is in a medically-induced coma according to his family. 

Anyone with any information on the location or possible owner of this vehicle can notify the San Diego Police Department (619) 531-2000, Homicide Team 5.  Witnesses with information wishing to remain anonymous can also contact Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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