South Land Park residents mourn four killed
Salvador Vasquez-Oliva will be tried in the March 2017 murders of his wife, children and niece at their South Land Park home, a Sacramento judge ruled at the Sacramento man’s preliminary hearing Friday.
Vasquez-Oliva is scheduled to be arraigned for trial Nov. 16. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.
Prosecuting Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Jeff Hightower told a judge of the “heinous, violent murders,” March 22, 2017, the state of the quiet home on 35th Avenue that became a scene of horror, the bodies found two each in the living room and the garage; and finally, Vasquez-Oliva’s confession to family members in San Francisco that led authorities to the grisly scene.
Vasquez-Oliva sat quietly with his attorneys through the brief proceedings.
The bodies of Vasquez-Oliva’s wife, Angelique Vazquez, 45, and niece Ashley Coleman, 21, were found in the family’s living room. The bodies of the children, daughter Mia Vasquez, 14, and son Alvin Vasquez, 11, were located in the garage, tied, with plastic over their heads, Hightower said.
Vasquez and her children were killed with a blunt-force instrument. A knife was used to kill Coleman, prosecutors allege.
“The evidence is overwhelming as to guilt,” Hightower told Sacramento Superior Court Judge Matthew Gary.
The bludgeoning and stabbing deaths stunned their South Land Park neighborhood and the greater city.
Neighbors knew the couple’s sporty, soccer and basketball playing kids. Angelique was a popular presence at the state’s Employment Development Department, where she worked for 11 years as a personnel technician. Vasquez-Oliva was a state employee for more than a decade at the time of the killings,
A neighborhood vigil in the days after the killings drew mourners including Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who spoke to the city’s grief and beseeched its children to “know that the world you live in is a good and great place.”
For the victims’ family, the preliminary hearing is one more step in the long march to trial, said family friend Arlette Smith.
“This whole thing continues to be devastating and horrific for the family, but we’re relieved that the process is getting underway,” Smith said. “There are four homicide victims. This is a mass murder. We know it’s going to be quite some time, but we will be patient because we want the prosecutor to be able to do their job. But, it is difficult.”