SANTA CRUZ -- Three people have been arrested in connection with the Friday night slaying of a homeless man in a camp along the railroad tracks near Depot Park, police said Sunday.
The body of a 51-year-old man was found about 11 p.m., after someone called police from a pay phone at Laurel and Chestnut streets to report a disturbance, police said.
Sunday, detective Sgt. Dave Perry said the victim would not be identified until Monday, at the earliest, pending identification of family members. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday, Perry said.
He declined to release any details about how the man died or any possible motives for the killing.
"It's still an active investigation and we have more witnesses to contact," he said. "It's going extremely well. We've been working on it non-stop and will continue to work on it until we exhaust all leads."
Police detained one man shortly after the body was found in connection with the homicide and identified him Sunday as Jeremiah James Long, 26.
Saturday, officers also arrested Michael Valgene Hudson, 41, and Shaelyn Zeanne Gonzales, 21.
The three were arrested on suspicion of murder, conspiracy and violating their probation terms, jail records show.
Gonzales was also arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs and Long on suspicion of committing battery against an officer, records show. They remained in custody Sunday afternoon.
Sentinel archives show that Long and
Gonzales were arrested together before, in November 2009, when they were one of a handful of young people allegedly illegally shooting an air gun on the Soquel Avenue bridge.
In another report that same month, Long was accused of striking a security guard with a skateboard at Trader Joe's, in the back and the arm, and spitting in his face, after the guard confronted him for stealing some food, police said.
Sunday, detective Damon Williams was out near the crime scene, taking clothes from a trash dumpster in a fenced city yard inside a triangle of railroad tracks behind the Depot Park bike park. Williams photographed the clothing and placed each piece in a brown paper bag. He asked a city worker if there were any pants and the worker said none were found.
The campsite where the body was found was several yards away, near the base of a hillside not far from the trestle bridge and below Clear View Court mobile home park on West Cliff Drive.
In the camp were two living areas tucked inside some shrubbery, filled with soggy blankets, clothes, hangars, a bike and more. A red "SC" ball cap hung from a tree and a wet, handwritten card from a child to her dad lay beside the green and pink bike, with a Bank of America debit card.
A couple who live in a mobile home above the park, Kal and Luisa Kallevig, said they have noticed more homeless people in the area this year but didn't hear anything Friday night.
"There have been people camping out there all summer and it gets noisy," Kal Kallevig said. "It's weird to think someone is living down there."
Near the wharf, a group of homeless people were hanging out in the sun. Two said they heard the man who was killed was someone they called Chef.
One man, who identified himself only as Mike, said Chef had been living in the area "for a while."
The homicide was the third in the city and the 10th in the county this year.
Follow Sentinel reporter Cathy Kelly on Twitter at Twitter.com/cathykelly9
2012 HOMICIDES IN SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
MARCH 1: Nathan Connally, 19, was shot about 2:30 a.m. near Dover and Soquel drives in Live Oak. He stumbled to an apartment at 2500 Soquel Drive and died there minutes later, according to sheriff's deputies. Authorities released a surveillance video that showed Connally walking with another man before the shooting. That man, who has not been identified, is not a suspect in the case. Deputies have not said what motivated the shooting. No one has been arrested. Connally lived in Santa Cruz.
MARCH 31: Brandon Gil, 21, fought with 43-year-old Frank Garcia outside a sports bar on the 500 block of Main Street in Watsonville. Garcia, Gil and Gil's friend, Ricardo Flores, were stabbed. Gil died in a hospital hours later. Watsonville police said in May that Gil initiated the attack on Garcia and the District Attorney's Office ruled it 'justifiable homicide'. Prosecutors filed no charges.
APRIL 3: Rafael Cendejas, 42, was shot around 6 p.m. as he was mowing his neighbor's lawn outside Watsonville in the Pinto Lake neighborhood. A man got out of a car, fired shots at him and fled in the car. Cendejas was pronounced dead at the scene. The Sheriff's Office has not said what motivated the shooting. No suspects have been arrested.
MAY 7: Shannon Kathleen Collins, 38, owner of Camouflage on Pacific Avenue was stabbed to death on the 300 block of Broadway in Santa Cruz about 11:50 a.m. After neighbors called 911, Charles Anthony Edwards III was arrested on suspicion of homicide a few blocks from the scene. Edwards was wearing bloody clothing. A knife was found at the scene. Edwards, 43, is a convicted felon from San Francisco. Police said Collins and Edwards did not know each other. Authorities called the attack random and unprovoked and have not elaborated on the motive.
MAY 30: Fernando Martin Mendoza-Avila was killed in a drive-by shooting while walking on the Freedom Boulevard overpass at Highway 1 just after 6 p.m. The 21-year-old was shot several times. Deputies found a gray Honda later that night in Watsonville and arrested its driver, Alfredo Alanis Garcia, 21, of Prunedale on suspicion of homicide, commission of a crime in furtherance of a gang and use of a firearm in commission of a felony. Two other men, Christopher Herrera Bermudez, 20, of Las Lomas, and Rafael Zamora Barron, 20, of Watsonville, were arrested the next day. All three have pleaded not guilty and face a preliminary hearing in December.
JULY 25: Dominic Mower, 37, was shot several times inside his home on Prospect Street at Madison Street in Watsonville about 3 a.m. A 22-year-old woman also in the home was shot several times and is expected to recover. A day after the shooting, police arrested Michael Neal Miller, 34, of Watsonville.
AUG. 8: A 13-year-old boy, Joey Mendoza, whom police describe as a documented gang member, was shot and killed on the 100 block of San Lorenzo Boulevard in Santa Cruz just after 8 p.m. Police have little information on what motivated the shooting. The teen was shot twice in the back and pronounced dead at the scene.
AUG. 16: A 28-year-old Soquel man, Jeff Smith, was found shot to death outside his mother-in-law's Soquel Hills home. Deputies have not said what the motive but ruled out robbery and gang activity. No one has been charged with his death.
OCT. 13: Eric Dean Garcia, a 32-year-old Saratoga man who was reported missing Sept. 20, was found dead in the Santa Cruz Mountains. A hiker found Garcia in the Mount Bache area, Santa Cruz County Sheriff's deputies said. Authorities said the death was a homicide but have not said how or why he was killed.
NOV. 17: A 51-year-old man was found dead near the railroad tracks behind Depot Park. Jeremiah James Long, 26, Michael Valgene Hudson, 41, and Shaelyn Zeanne Gonzales, 21, have been arrested.
©2012 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.)
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