Crime - Sacto 911

Few clues as suspect in Roseville family’s massacre returns to court

The Placer County man who drove to a rural north state police station with a body in the trunk and pointed officers to the bodies of three other family members in his Roseville apartment pleaded not guilty Friday to four counts of murder in the killings.

Shankar Nagappa Hangud appeared briefly Friday at Placer Superior Court at Roseville’s Santucci Justice Center on the four open murder counts plus additional allegations of committing multiple murders and committing crimes in multiple jurisdictions.

Hangud, 53, remains held without bail at South Placer Jail and will return for a November court date.

The brief morning hearing came little more than a week after a bizarre first appearance where a rumpled, sullen Hangud, clad in a protective vest to prevent him from harming himself, repeatedly refused defense counsel.

The unemployed data specialist told a Placer judge at the Oct. 16 hearing that he would not seek a lawyer before he was convinced otherwise. Hangud is now being represented by the Placer County Public Defender’s office.

Little remains known nearly two weeks after the grim discoveries in Hangud’s Roseville apartment and in the trunk of the red Mazda he parked outside Mount Shasta Police station in far-north Siskiyou County.

Three bodies were found in the apartment: a woman, a girl and a boy. The fourth, a man, was found in the trunk of Hangud’s car. Placer County prosecutors allege Hangud killed the man in what they described as a “rural part of Siskiyou County,” a four-hour drive north of Roseville, before driving the man’s body to Mount Shasta police.

Placer prosecutors say the four were killed in the space of a week: The first two were killed Oct. 7, the third on Oct. 8. The fourth was slain in Siskiyou County days later on Oct. 13. Hangud surrendered a day later, Oct. 14, in Mount Shasta.

Placer County authorities confirmed the four were family members but still had not released the victims’ names Friday, citing difficulties in reaching next of kin, nor have they determined how the four were killed.

Prosecutors have also said little. No new charges were added Friday to the four Hangud face as they continue to receive reports from Roseville police investigators and exchange vital discovery with Hangud’s court-appointed counsel.

Meantime, officials at the Roseville school the boy and girl attended confirmed - pending coroner’s confirmation - the children were students and said they had provided counseling and other services to other pupils.

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Darrell Smith covers courts and California news for The Sacramento Bee. He joined The Bee in 2006 and previously worked at newspapers in Palm Springs, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Marysville. A Sacramento Valley native, Smith was born and raised at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville.