SAN JOSE — A 34-year-old San Jose man was charged Tuesday in a 2021 crime spree that involved two homicides and other violent assaults, according to Santa Clara County authorities.
The San Jose police department said Ricardo Padilla was in custody for the slayings of 49-year-old Thomas Salvador Calamia and 43-year-old Samuel Torres, who has been missing since July 4, 2021.
Homicide detectives first became aware of Padilla in August 2021 during the Torres investigation. During the investigation, it was determined that Torres was shot and killed in the area of Coyote Creek near Wool Creek Drive by Padilla.
The case bedeviled detectives for months in part because have not been able to locate Torres’ body.
“Hopefully, we find it. The investigation still continues today. We want to have closure for this victim’s family. And obviously, that’s going to start with the recovery of this victim’s body,” says Sgt. Christian Camarillo, spokesperson for the police department.
Torres was homeless at the time of his murder. The police officers who went to investigate his disappearance ran into Padilla, a known gang member who also lived in the encampment.
Padilla was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Detectives eventually zeroed in on a location at the sprawling and infamous homeless encampment once known as “The Jungle”, where witness told them Torres had been buried.
“We have found evidence that there was a body at that location. Whether or not that body is ever found and recovered, we don’t know. Obviously, I’m sure the family would want some closure,” Sgt. Camarillo said.
Detectives say they believe that Padilla told friends to move the body while he was still locked up behind bars.
“We do believe that while he was incarcerated, the suspect contacted associates outside the jail and said, ‘Hey, this is where the body is. I need you to go get rid of it,” Sgt. Camarillo said.
Padilla also has several charges stemming from the violent crime spree which spanned from May 2021 until July 4, 2021, in the city of San José and Alameda County.
Investigations revealed the following timeline:
- May 9, 2021 — a stabbing incident occurred in the area of S. 2nd Street and Margaret Street in San José involving suspect Padilla.
- May 11, 2021 — suspect Padilla was responsible for an unprovoked assault on a male outside of a 7-11 store in the 600 Block of Bird Ave. In addition, on that same day, suspect Padilla was involved in a separate stabbing incident that occurred near Coyote Creek.
- May 31, 2021 — Padilla shot and killed victim Calamia in the area of Prevost Street and West Virginia Street. He was later identified as the primary suspect.
- June 4, 2021 — a Livermore police officer conducted a vehicle stop involving suspect Padilla. Padilla reversed his vehicle and struck the officer’s motorcycle, and subsequently fled the city of Livermore. An arrest warrant was sought and eventually issued for attempted murder charges on Padilla for this incident.
- June 22, 2021 — a shooting incident occurred on Berkeley Way in the city of San José, in which the victim survived and later identified Padilla as the suspect.
- July 4, 2021 — suspect Padilla was contacted by officers in the area of Coyote Creek. Upon contact, suspect Padilla attempted to discard a firearm. He was ultimately arrested and booked into the Santa Clara County Jail where he is still in custody to this day.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Vallejo #3810 or Detective Harrington #4365 of the San José Police Department’s Homicide Unit via email: [email protected] and/or [email protected] or at 408-277-5283.
Devin Fehely contributed reporting.