The Contra Costa County coroner’s office has completed an autopsy on a body that was found hidden in a Hercules home Thursday that was at the center of a recent killing spree, but investigators were still waiting for dental records this afternoon to confirm the identity of the person, a Hercules police spokeswoman said. Investigators are also still waiting for results of toxicology tests to determine a cause of death, a deputy coroner said. The body was found at about 3 p.m. in a downstairs closet of the home, located at 1066 Crepe Myrtle Drive, where 73-year-old Ricardo Sales was found bludgeoned to death on Aug. 28. Sales and his son, Frederick Sales, 35, were reported missing on Aug. 28. They lived at the home with their landlady and one other person,
according to police. Investigators believe the elder Sales was killed the day before his body was discovered. Police had searched the house after finding Ricardo Sales’ body but didn’t find the second body, apparently because the killer had gone to great lengths to conceal it, police spokeswoman Doreen Mathews said. The body had been wrapped in several layers of material and shoved into the back of a J-shaped closet under the stairs, Mathews said. The killer had then reportedly fashioned a false wall to make it look like the closet ended before the bend. The body was concealed behind the fagade, Mathews said. The house had been sealed since the discovery of Sales’ body, but investigators returned there Thursday with FBI crime lab technicians to collect more evidence. Once inside, they noticed an odor and began searching for its source, which is when they found the body, Mathews said.
Police had been searching for the younger Sales since Aug. 28, including sifting through an estimated 3,000 tons of garbage at the Keller Canyon Landfill in Pittsburg. The search of the landfill has been suspended until the body has been identified, Mathews said. Investigators believe that Efren Valdemoro, 38, killed the elder Sales the day before his body was discovered and most likely killed the person whose body was found in the closet. Valdemoro was shot to death by California Highway Patrol officers on Aug. 31 after he allegedly abducted his girlfriend, Cindy Tran, 46, and led police on a high-speed chase from Pleasant Hill to Richmond, according to the CHP.
When the chase ended, Tran was found dead in the vehicle Valdemoro had been driving. She had been strangled, police said. Tran owned and lived at the house on Crepe Myrtle Drive and rented rooms to Ricardo and Frederick Sales and one other person, police said. According to police, there had been friction in the home because Valdemoro accused the Sales father and son of interfering with his relationship. The three had gotten into a fight a week before Ricardo Sales was killed. Police were called to break it up, but no arrests were made, police said.
Valdemoro has also been connected to two other homicides in Vallejo. The bodies of 63-year-old Segundina Allen and her friend, 60-year-old Marcaria Smart, were found on Aug. 31 at a house on Upland Court. One of the bodies had been buried in a shallow grave in the backyard, and the other was found inside the residence, Vallejo police said. Valdemoro had often stayed at the house and borrowed Allen’s car, with or without permission, Vallejo police said. He was allegedly driving the car, a Cadillac Escalade, at the time of Ricardo Sales’ murder. Police are still investigating whether Allen’s husband, Charles Rittenhouse, 72, who lived in the home with the bodies for several days before they were discovered, had anything to do with the murders.
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