Four people have been found dead in a home in South Land Park, according to Sacramento police. Paul Kitagaki, Jr. The Sacramento Bee
Four people have been found dead in a home in South Land Park, according to Sacramento police. Paul Kitagaki, Jr. The Sacramento Bee

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Quadruple homicide shakes quiet South Land Park neighborhood

By Nashelly Chavez

nchavez@sacbee.com

March 23, 2017 10:26 AM

Four people were found dead Thursday morning inside a home in Sacramento’s South Land Park neighborhood, a normally quiet area of tree-lined streets and mid-century ranch houses. Police detained a man in San Francisco in connection with what they called a quadruple homicide.

As of Thursday evening, authorities had not released the names of the victims, their ages or relationships. The man detained in San Francisco was referred to only as a “person of interest.” He was detained by officers from the San Francisco Police Department in the area of Pierce Street and Golden Gate Avenue, near the city’s iconic “painted ladies,” a row of colorful Victorian houses set against the downtown skyline.

Detectives from the Sacramento Police Department traveled to San Francisco to continue the investigation, the department said, while others worked the South Land Park neighborhood, near 35th Avenue and Gloria Drive, throughout the day Thursday.

“Homicide detectives and crime scene investigators have responded to the scene to canvass the area for any potential evidence or witnesses,” police said in a news release. “A specific motive has not been determined, and the case remains very active.”

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Rita Munoz, a neighbor of the home on 35th Avenue, said a couple with two children, a girl 14 and a boy 11, lived at the house.

The case began early Thursday morning, when a person contacted Sacramento police worried about the safety of the residents of the home in the 1100 block of 35th Avenue, not far from the South Hills Shopping Center.

“Officers responded to the house to conduct a welfare check of the occupants but were unsuccessful in reaching anyone,” the Police Department said in its news release “Out of concern for the safety of the residents, officers gained access to the home and located four deceased individuals.”

The four bodies were found about 7 a.m., said Officer Linda Matthew, police spokeswoman.

“This does not appear to be a random act,” Matthew said. “We believe the victims were known to the suspect, and at this time a possible suspect is detained in San Francisco.”

Police continued to work late into the day, with investigators going in and out of a tan single-story house with a basketball hoop in the driveway.

Don Sherrill, whose Lundy Court home backs up to the house, said he remembered talking to a man and his two children, a boy and a girl, several years ago after burglars struck the home on 35th Avenue. The two men talked about fixing the fence between their backyards.

Sherrill, who is retired, said he believes the home was still occupied by the family, who had rented it for about five to six years. He and his wife, Joanne Sherrill, said they often heard the children playing in the backyard when it was nice out.

“The young kids really enjoyed the backyard and swimming in the summer time,” Joanne Sherrill said. The family used an inflatable pool, she said.

The couple said they had not heard anything unusual coming from the home Thursday morning.

Sacramento County property records indicate that Kazuko J. Saruwatari owns the 35th Avenue home. Saruwatari did not respond to calls from The Sacramento Bee.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said Thursday that at least two of the victims were children.

“All our hearts here at City Hall go out to the victims, their families, schools and community,” Steinberg said in a written statement. “As a city, we stand ready to embrace the families and community in anything we can do to help. It’s extremely tragic.”

Brian Ebbert, president of the South Land Park Neighborhood Association, described the area as a safe residential neighborhood with a mix of young families and retirees.

“We are shocked and saddened and rightfully fearful when something like this happens,” Ebbert said. “We don’t have homicides in this neighborhood, let alone a quadruple homicide.”

Police reported at 10 a.m. Thursday that the homicide occurred in the 1100 block of 35th Avenue. Paul Kitagaki, Jr.The Sacramento Bee

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Nashelly Chavez: 916-321-1188, @nashellytweets. The Bee’s Cathy Locke, Bill Lindelof and Anita Chabria contributed to this report.