Arrest in the Stockton Serial Killer Case

Stockton Police made a dramatic arrest in the case that plagued the city in recent weeks. On October 15th, Wesley Brownlee was taken into custody while authorities believe he was out hunting for another victim in the central California city.

The city of Stockton is not unfamiliar with gun crime and homicide. The city of 311,000 is ahead of last year’s murder record with 43 homicides this year. At least three of them are now attributed to Brownlee, a suspected serial killer.

First Reported Cases:

On July 8, 2022, at 12:31 a.m., a 35-year-old man, Paul Yaw, was fatally shot.

On Aug. 11 at 9:49 p.m., a 43-year-old man, Salvador Debudey Jr., was shot and killed.

The next victim was 21-year-old Jonathan Rodriguez Hernandez, who was fatally shot at 6:41 a.m. on Aug. 30 in Stockton.

A 52-year-old man, Carlos Carranza-Cruz, was fatally shot in Stockton at 4:27 a.m. on September 21st.

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

Forensic analysis revealed all of the victims were killed using the same firearm. During this evaluation, the ballistics data also revealed two additional victims could be tied to the weapon from unsolved crimes a year prior. In April 2021 a 40-year-old man was shot and killed and days later a Stockton woman was shot multiple times but survived her injuries. She told officers she was in her tent when she heard someone outside. She was confronted by a man with a gun who shot her multiple times. The victim reports the shooter was dressed in a black hoodie, wore a black COVID mask, and never said a word.

The city responded with a tip line and a reward in excess of $100,000.

There was very little to indicate where this killer would hit next, other than a propensity to target vulnerable people, alone, in the early hours before sunrise.

Brownlee’s arrest is generally seen as a nod to old-fashioned “police work” and tips phoned in from worried citizens about men prowling about the city after dark. We’ve become used to cases like Stockton’s serial killer being taken down after sophisticated genetic genealogy results targeting a distant relative and eventually narrowing the suspect pool down to the potential suspects, like The Golden State Killer, or The Grim Sleeper.

In this case, officers began following Brownlee in the early morning hours after they observed him make several stops in dark secuded areas, a pattern that matched the five attacks in the city. They found him with a mask around his neck, and in possession of a handgun. The caliber of the weapon was the same as that used in the murders and reports indicate the weapon may have been a “ghost gun” manufactured without serial numbers or, other identifiable markings.

Analysis of Brownlee’s cell phone records pinpointed his phone was in the location of three of the murders at the time they were committed. (Hernandez, Carranza-Cruz, and Lopez)

On October 18, 2022, Brownlee was charged with three counts of First Degree Murder with Special Circumstances, which means he may face the Death Penalty. He also finds himself charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Felon and Possession of Ammunition because of his prior felony convictions.

Brownlee has a criminal history going back to age 15 for selling crack cocaine. Numerous arrests followed and he finally graduated to adult probation for selling crack cocaine once more. He violated probation and was sentenced to state prison for selling cocaine to an undercover cop. He was discharged from parole in 2006. There was no indication of violence in his past. The motive for these killings has yet to be revealed.

I’m confident that additional charges will follow now that the firearm is available for comparison.

The city of Stockton is fortunate they were able to capture Brownlee before he struck once more. He was on a mission and what that mission was, we may not know for months, if ever. Chief of Police Stanely McFadden stated, “I’m sure we stopped another killing.”

Brownlee is being held without bail.

Another California serial killer’s story begins to unfold…

Take care out there and if you want to sign up for my occasional newsletter, and I promise not to fill your inbox, here is the link to sign up.

Check out my latest release, Dead Drop, which deals with border crime, border violence, and who’s caught in between.

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