San Diego Police are working to put a new face to the suspect in the series of homeless murders and brutal beating of another.
Anthony Alexander Padgett, 36, of Chula Vista was arrested on Thursday last week in connection to the murders. He was released on Monday after investigators say they found reason to exclude him as a suspect.
The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) say Padgett's physical features were similar to the man recorded on surveillance video buying supplies to light a fire just before the first victim, Angelo De Nardo was found beaten and burned under a tree near Bay Park.
Shawn Longley,41, was found dead in Ocean Beach with blunt force trauma to his upper body. Dionicio Derek Vahidy, 23, died in the hospital after being found attacked and set on fire in Downtown San Diego.
But Padgett told NBC 7 that he was innocent.
“I look like that person. I am innocent,” Padgett said.
The store clerk who sold the suspect a gas can and gasoline, also told NBC 7 that Padgett was never in his store.
The clerk, who asked not to be identified, says the man in the enhanced photos is closer to 50 years old.
Investigators are now starting over, going back to the store clerk who is the only person who can identify the suspect.
For about two hours on Wednesday, he spent time with investigators helping them create a composite sketch based on his recollection of the suspect.
The suspect hasn't struck again since last week but police say the case is still their number one priority.
So far, SDPD has not responded to NBC 7’s requests for a copy of a composite sketch.