PITTSBURG, Calif. – Authorities searched a Northern California landfill Friday for signs of a missing man authorities said might be a fifth murder victim linked to a suspect who was shot and killed by police after a high-speed chase.
Police believe Frederick Sales, 35, who has been missing for more than a week, may have been killed by Efren Valdemoro, who is also a suspect in the death of Sales' father.
Valdemoro, 38, had accused the father, Ricardo Sales, 73, of interfering in his relationship with his girlfriend.
The badly beaten body of Ricardo Sales was found on Aug. 27 in his Hercules home. His son was last seen a day earlier.
Police decided to search a one-acre section of the landfill because it received trash from a business park where Valdemoro worked as a security guard. The Saleses lived nearby.
The body of Valdemoro's girlfriend Cindy Tran was found in his car after the deadly Tuesday night pursuit that ended in a Richmond strip mall.
About two dozen police investigators and volunteer emergency responders wearing helmets, goggles and boots spent seven hours at the landfill inspecting about 3,000 tons of trash, Hercules police spokeswoman Michelle Harrington said. The search will continue Saturday, she said.
The Saleses lived in Tran's home and were seen fighting with Valdemoro on Aug. 22.
Ricardo Sales told police Valdemoro had posted a letter on his door accusing him of interfering with the relationship of Valdemoro and Tran and being a "back-stabber," according to a police report.
Sales knocked on Tran's bedroom door early in the morning to confront Valdemoro about the letter, and the two men began to fight. When police arrived, they found the Saleses restraining a naked Valdemoro on the floor, according to the report.
Investigators don't have conclusive evidence that the younger Sales was dead but were discouraged to find his Toyota RAV4 without any trace of him, Harrington said. She would not say where or when the car was found.
"We do want to find Frederick Sales alive, but we do have to follow leads as they come," she said.
Police also were investigating the connection between Valdemoro and two women whose decomposing bodies were discovered in a Vallejo house hours before his confrontation with California Highway Patrol officers in Richmond.
A white Cadillac Escalade belonging to one of the women, Segundina Allen, 63, was found in the parking lot of the business park, after Valdemoro had been seen driving it, Harrington said.
Police and friends have said Valdemoro would stay at Allen's home on occasion, even though she and her husband had told him repeatedly that he wasn't welcomed.
Vallejo Police Sgt. Sid DeJesus said Friday that officers responded to at least a dozen calls in the past year at the rented home where Allen and her husband lived for different disturbances, many involving Valdemoro.
The couple would accuse him of entering their home or taking Allen's car without permission, DeJesus said.
"But no one would step up and agree to press charges," DeJesus said. "So there was really nothing we could do."
Allen and her friend Marcaria Smart, 60, were reported missing last weekend. On Tuesday, officers searching the house found the women's bodies — with Allen's husband, Charles Rittenhouse present — as well as a cache of chemicals that could be used to make bombs.
Rittenhouse, 72, pleaded not guilty Friday to two counts of explosive possession. He remains in custody on $2 million bail.
Rittenhouse has not been arrested or charged in the killings.
Outside court, Rittenhouse's attorney Leslie Prince explained her client worked as a chemist who has no malicious intent. She did not say what the chemicals were intended for.
DeJesus reiterated that Rittenhouse remains a person of interest.
"We're interested in why he would want to have those materials in his house," he said.
Prince also said Rittenhouse was not involved in the deaths of the two women and intimated that the bodies were dumped at his home.
"He had no motive to do it," she said, adding that he's physically incapable of such acts because he has problems walking.
Solano County Assistant District Attorney Michael Mullins said he didn't know where Prince got that idea from.
Collins reported from Fairfield and Pittsburg.