Winery Worker Sought in Shootings; Five Dead, One Wounded
GLEN ELLEN, Calif. (AP) _ A jealous winery worker went on a bloody rampage Friday and killed five people, including his wife and mother-in-law, then fled with his three young daughters, authorities said.
Police helicopters searched the lush Sonoma Valley region of vineyards and wineries in California’s wine country and authorities issued an all-points bulletin for Ramon Salcido, 28.
Police found Salcido’s battered brown Ford sedan with a torn vinyl top Friday night in San Rafael, about 25 miles to the south, but there was no sign of Salcido or his daughters.
Authorities, who had alerted border police for fear that Salcido might be heading for his native Mexico, continued to look for a second car he might be driving, a 1960 Plymouth with a burned spot on the hood.
Investigators went to the home of Salcido’s in-laws and found the bodies of his mother-in-law and her two young daughters, who had been beaten and bludgeoned to death; at Salcido’s home, they found the body of his wife.
He’s also accused of killing one co-worker and wounding another.
Most of the victims ″did not die by gunshot wounds but very violent injuries,″ said Sonoma County Sheriff Richard Michaelsen.
Michaelsen said authorities feared for the three missing toddlers because of brutal attacks on Salcido’s two young sisters-in-law.
″He may have literally no attachment to his own children at this point,″ the sheriff said. ″We feel they are in great danger.″
Michaelsen said Salcido’s sisters-in-law Marie Ann Richards, 8, and Ruth Richards, 12, were sexually assaulted, sodomized and beaten; one of the girls was nearly decapitated.
The fifth victim was shot to death near the Grand Cru Winery, where Salcido worked.
One investigator described the in-laws’ house as ″one of the most horrible crime scenes he had seen in his life, a violent, violent attack,″ Michaelsen said. One body was found in a bedroom, a second in the kitchen and the third in a hall.
Salcido was believed to be armed with several weapons, Michaelsen said, but authorities had not determined the sequence of events in Friday’s violence.
The gunman went to the ranch of a locally prominent man, Bob Kunde, and shot ranch worker Kenneth Butti in the right shoulder, Michaelsen said. Butti, 33, was treated and discharged from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.
Then Salcido went to the winery and fatally shot a male co-worker, assistant winemaker Tracey Toovey, before fleeing in his battered brown Ford sedan, Michaelsen said. Toovey’s body was found in a car near the winery.
He went to his home in nearby Boyes Hot Springs, where the body believed to be his wife, Angela Elaine Richards, was found, Michaelsen said. Salcido’s three children, ages 2, 3 and 4, were reported missing.
Later, authorities found three bodies at the home of Salcido’s father-in- law, Robert L. Richards, in Cotati, about five miles west of here, said sheriff’s Lt. Gary Zanolini. The bodies were identified as Salcido’s mother- in-law, Louise, and two of the Richards’ young daughters. Richards was not home at the time and was uninjured.
Salcido’s neighbor, Richard Clark, said he ″could see it coming.″ Clark, who has known Salcido for about four years, said his neighbor ″liked guns and liked scaring people with guns.″
″He’s crazy, he was always going around with a gun,″ said Clark. ″One time he threatened to blow (his wife’s) head off.″
″He said if he found someone ... with his wife he’d kill them. He was real jealous. He drank a lot. Two or three times a day he would come home from the winery to see if someone was with his wife,″ Clark said.
On March 11, a Superior Court judge in Fresno County, some 250 miles to the south, issued an order directing Salcido to pay his ex-wife Debra Ann $511 a month in child support for their daughter, Maria Crystal Garcia, 4.
He also was ordered to repay the county $5,807 in public assistance apparently paid to his ex-wife after he failed to provide support for the child. There was no indication when Salcido was notified of the order.
Glen Ellen is a town of 1,500 in the wine-making region of Sonoma County, north of San Francisco. Grand Cru, founded in 1970 and owned by Walter and Bettina Dreyer, covers 30 acres and produces about 60,000 cases of wine a year.
A woman at the winery declined to comment and referred all questions to the sheriff’s department.