South Land Park residents mourn four killed
The man accused of murdering four people in a South Land Park home last week is scheduled to hear those charges read against him Monday afternoon in Sacramento Superior Court. Meanwhile, a shocked community is beginning the slow process of returning to normality after an emotional weekend vigil to mourn the victims.
Salvador Vasquez-Oliva, 56, is being held in jail with no bail, accused of killing Angelique Vasquez, 45, her daughter Mia Vasquez, 14, son Alvin Vasquez, 11, and Vasquez’s niece, Ashley Coleman, 21.
The crime occurred in the trim ranch-style home on 35th Avenue that Vasquez-Oliva shared with at least three of his victims, according to property records. Police have said little about the crime, including whether Vasquez-Oliva and Vasquez were married.
Vasquez-Oliva was arrested Thursday morning in San Francisco a few hours after Sacramento police found the four bodies during a welfare check prompted by a concerned family member.
Police investigators on Sunday concluded four days of analysis in the home just west of Gloria Drive, taking down the yellow crime scene tape that had blocked 35th Avenue for days.
“It is our hope that other residents of the neighborhood can begin returning to a more typical routine,” Sacramento Police Department spokesman Matt McPhail said in a statement. “We know this event has had an impact on many people, and we appreciate everyone’s patience while we work through the meticulous process of investigating a case such as this.”
With the police tape gone, a memorial of candles and stuffed animals sprung up Sunday morning on the front lawn of the home with neatly pruned hedges and basketball hoop in the driveway.
Monét Burtley, 14, and her mother, Monique Burtley, walked up to the corner of 35th Avenue and Gloria Drive Saturday evening and joined about 60 mourners, including friends, co-workers, schoolmates, neighbors and city leaders, at a memorial vigil.
In her hands, Monét held a white sign reading: “Rest in peace Mia and Alvin. We miss you.”
The teen said she had last seen her friend and fellow Sam Brannan Middle School eighth-grader Mia Vasquez on Tuesday. She described the 14-year-old and her brother, Alvin, as sporty siblings. Mia liked to play soccer, while Alvin was a basketball player.
“They were really outgoing and generous people,” she said. “They didn’t deserve this.”
That, among so many reasons, is why the shocked neighbors say they needed to come together Saturday night.
The Sacramento Bee’s state worker salary database lists both Vasquez-Oliva and Vasquez as employees of the California Employment Development Department. EDD officials confirmed Vasquez-Oliva’s employment Friday, saying he worked in a non-public office as an office technician at EDD since October 2012.
The department refused to comment on the 45-year-old woman’s employment, saying in an email that it had “not received confirmation of the victims’ identities.” A woman with the victim’s name is identified in the database as a personnel technician who has worked with the department since 2007.
No information about a possible murder weapon or how the four people were killed was offered by police.
“This is the worst thing I’ve seen in this neighborhood,” Michael Wake said Saturday night at the vigil.
“It definitely changes the face of the neighborhood,” said Wake, who returned in 2013 to the neighborhood where his parents bought a home in 1973. He and his brother went to Sam Brannan Middle and McClatchy High schools. “It’s going to pull the neighborhood together, but it’s not the way I want the neighborhood pulled together.”
Brian Ebbert, president of the South Land Park Neighborhood Association, and other board members fanned out earlier talking to neighbors about the past few days.
“People were breaking down in tears – people I haven’t met before. It’s one of those things that’s hard to comprehend,” Ebbert said. “There’s a lot of sadness and anger that this could’ve happened. … There’s a natural human reaction to want to get together and huddle as a community.”
The presence of the detectives at the house until Sunday was troubling for neighbors.
“What’s caused us to be so emotional is that they’re still here,” said Rita Munoz, whose grandchildren played with the young victims. “Why are they still here? What else did he do to them? It’s four people. How did he overcome them? We want to find out why he did this, and why his children?”
Officer Linda Matthew, a Police Department spokeswoman, said the length of time was not unusual.
“These scenes on their own, even if it’s just one victim, take a long time,” Matthew said of the investigation earlier Saturday. “They’ve got to make sure they are being thorough.”
“We’re feeling helpless because we’re doors away,” Teresa Raines, a 19-year resident, said before the vigil. “It’s scary because (the investigators) have been here so long. This street was really lively. It’s quiet now. People are wondering what’s going on.”
They are also wondering what to tell their children.
“I haven’t told my children,” said Jenny Woods, walking with her dog, Buddy, as the vigil was beginning. The barricades and yellow tape, television trucks and cars down the street?
“I just tell them it’s road work,” she said. “I don’t even understand it. How can they?”