Stockton serial killings timeline: 43-year-old suspect charged with 7 counts of murder

Seven killings and one nonfatal shooting have been linked to the suspect.

December 28, 2022, 4:00 PM

A suspected serial killer in Stockton, California, has been charged with seven counts of murder in fatal shootings spanning nearly a year and a half.

The suspect was apprehended in October while he was "out hunting" for another victim, according to police.

What we know

The suspect, Wesley Brownlee, a 43-year-old Stockton resident, was arrested while he was driving early on Oct. 15, Stockton police chief Stanley McFadden announced at a news conference days later.

Authorities had zeroed in on Brownlee from tips and officers and surveilled Brownlee as he drove, according to police.

"His patterns were consistent with some of the patterns that we had seen ... around parks, around dark places, stopping, looking around, moving again," the chief said.

"He was on a mission to kill. He was out hunting," McFadden said in a statement. "As officers made contact with him, he was wearing dark clothing and a mask around his neck. He was also armed with a firearm when he was taken into custody. We are sure we stopped another killing."

The suspect has been linked to seven fatal shootings and one nonfatal shooting, according to a complaint.

Here's how the crimes unfolded:

April 10, 2021

At 4:18 a.m., 40-year-old Juan Vasquez was shot and killed in Oakland, California.

April 16, 2021

Days later, at 3:20 a.m., a 46-year-old woman was shot in Stockton and survived her injuries, police said. The victim was later identified in a complaint as Natasha LaTour.

She told officers she was in her tent and heard someone approaching. She came out to find someone holding a gun, police said. Multiple shots were fired but the shooter didn't say anything, she told police.

This shooting has also been linked to the spree, police said.

On the same day, Mervin Harmon was fatally shot in Alameda County.

July 8, 2022

More than a year later, 35-year-old Paul Yaw was fatally shot in Stockton at 12:31 a.m., police said.

Yaw "was a good boy who grew into a good man with a big heart," his family said in a statement to ABC News. "He was a son, brother, father, grandson, nephew and cousin."

Paul Alexander Yaw, 35, was one of the victims of a serial killer in Stockton, Calif.
Greta Bogrow

Aug. 11, 2022

Weeks later, at 9:49 p.m., a 43-year-old man, Salvador Debudey Jr., was shot and killed, police said.

Aug. 30, 2022

The next victim was 21-year-old Jonathan Rodriguez Hernandez, who was fatally shot at 6:41 a.m. in Stockton.

Stockton, Calif., police released the locations of five murders believed to be committed by the same person since July 8.
Stockton Police Department

Sept. 21, 2022

A 52-year-old man, Juan Cruz, was fatally shot in Stockton at 4:27 a.m. on Sept. 21, police said.

Sept. 27, 2022

The final victim was 54-year-old Lawrence Lopez Sr., who was fatally shot at 1:53 a.m. on Sept. 27, according to police.

Lopez was a musician who leaves behind six children, Jerry Lopez, his brother, told ABC News.

"It's mind-blowing that the deaths are supposedly connected," Jerry Lopez said.

In this undated photo released by the Lopez family, Lorenzo Lopez is shown.
Jerry Lopez Family

Sept. 30, 2022

Stockton police announced they believed the five 2022 homicides were linked, adding that they met the definition of a serial killer.

Police released this image of a man considered a person of interest.

Stockton, Calif., police released a photo of a person of interest in the murders of five men in the city since July.
Stockton Police Department

Oct. 3, 2022

Police said they believed two 2021 incidents -- the killing of Vasquez and the non-fatal shooting -- were also linked.

Oct. 4, 2022

Stockton police released a short video of a person of interest.

McFadden said it's unclear if the person of interest in the video "is a suspect or a witness, but it's an individual that we have seen at more than one scene."

Oct. 15, 2022

Brownlee was arrested for homicide, the chief said.

McFadden said he had very emotional conversations with the victims' families.

"Even though aren’t any words that we can say that will bring back the lost loved ones, the least that we could do is do our part -- to bring justice," he said.

Oct. 18, 2022

Brownlee made his first court appearance. He was charged with three counts of murder -- for the deaths of Hernandez, Cruz and Lopez -- with more charges expected, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said at a news conference.

He was held without bail, Sacramento ABC affiliate KXTV reported.

Brownlee was a truck driver and moved to Stockton this summer, the district attorney said.

"This individual thought he could come to our community and do harm -- not in our house," the district attorney said. "You do not get to come into our house and do this kind of crime ... and not think that [the Stockton Police Department] is not gonna ... find you and hold you fully accountable."

Dec. 27, 2022

Brownlee was charged with additional counts of murder, including for the deaths of Vasquez, Yaw and Debudey Jr. He was also charged with murder for the death of Harmon, which had not been linked to the suspect until now.

Brownlee was also formally charged with attempted murder for the nonfatal shooting of LaTour.

He is scheduled to appear in court for further arraignment on Jan. 3, 2023.

ABC News' Zohreen Shah, Alyssa Pone, Jenna Harrison Esseling and Caroline Guthrie contributed to this report.