Jon David Guerrero

Man Pleads Guilty in San Diego Homeless Killing Spree

Monday's plea signaled the end of court proceedings spanning more than three years

GUERRERO homeless attack series preliminary hearing day 1
NBC 7

The man behind a string of brutal attacks and murders throughout San Diego in 2016, many on homeless people, pleaded guilty to 15 felonies, including four counts of murder on Monday, the District Attorney's Office confirmed.

Jon David Guerrero, 42, was accused of impaling homeless men with railroad spikes, setting two victims on fire and assaulting several others during a 2016 crime spree.

Guerrero pleaded guilty to several counts of murder, attempted murder, assault and arson.

Monday's plea signaled the end of court proceedings spanning more than three years, which included numerous mental competency hearings and multiple stays at Patton State Hospital.

Guerrero is expected to be given more than four consecutive life prison sentences, plus 143 years to life in prison, when he's sentenced on May 1. He faced a potential death penalty, but the capital punishment decision was not sought by prosecutors.

A man accused of multiple attacks on homeless people in 2015 and 2016, some deadly, is expected in court Monday. NBC 7's Nicole Gomez details the allegations against him.

The Attacks

One of the last people attacked, Mike Papadelis, 58, was the first witness in a November 2019 hearing.

Papadelis told the courtroom Guerrero left him blind with a crushed eye socket, a broken nose and jaw after he was attacked while sleeping near 18th and C streets in July 2016. Guerrero was taken into custody soon after that attack.

"I'm lucky to be alive because the [railroad] spike was there and I was asleep. He could have put it right through my head, or my chest, or my neck but I don't know. I guess it just wasn't my time," Papdelis previously told NBC 7.

NBC 7’s Artie Ojeda speaks with a man who survived a vicious assault that left him blind in one eye. He supports the death penalty for the suspect, Jon David Guerrero, accused of attacking at least 12 people.

Others did not survive Guerrero's attacks: Angelo DeNardo, 53, Shawn Longley, 41, Dionicio Vahidy, 23, and Molly Simmons, 83.

Investigators believe the attacks began in July 2016, when Angelo de Nardo was set on fire and railroad spikes were rammed into his head and chest as he slept under I-5 near Morena Boulevard. Witnesses saw a man running away, carrying a gas can.

That gas can was tracked to a convenience store where clerk "Elliott" sold it to Guerrero about 15 minutes before that first deadly attack. He helped police create the sketch used to hunt down the suspect and served as a key witness.

Elliott said he didn't realize how serious the incident was until two more homeless men were attacked and police came looking for the security video.

On July 4, two homeless men were discovered attacked within an hour of each other in Bay Ho and Ocean Beach in the early morning hours. One of the victims, Shawn Longley, died.

On July 6, Derek Vahidy was found attacked and lit on fire in Pantoja Park near State and G Streets. He died in the hospital.

Molly Simons, 83, was not homeless. She was found beaten on July 13 near Arizona Street and University Avenue as she was walking to a nearby bus stop to volunteer at a local YMCA, according to her autopsy report. She died two weeks later.

Guerrero was arrested on July 15, hours after Papadelis was attacked at 18th and C streets. He was sent to Patton State Hospital for treatment after he was initially found not competent to stand trial in July 2017.

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