Friend of homeless man killed wants justice for him, others targeted

Posted at 11:00 PM, Jul 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-12 02:20:15-04

Friends of the latest man to die in a series of homeless murders hope police find the killer soon.

Emilio Osbahr wants people to remember his friend Derek Vahidy as a positive person.

About 5 a.m. last Wednesday, 23-year-old Dionicio Derek Vahidy was gravely injured in the area of Broadway and State Street, and a towel he was sleeping under was doused with a flammable liquid and set ablaze, according to police. Vahidy died in a hospital Sunday afternoon.

Osbahr says they shared a special bond because they used to be homeless together.

"I feel horrible that he didn't have anyone around him to help," Osbahr said. "I didn't even know that he was in the streets until now so it's pretty shocking."

AJ Lee went to University City High School with Vahidy and says they were best friends.

"We love each other so much and I don't know, I'm just trying to find light in this situation," Lee said. "He was still fighting a battle and it sucks that he couldn't make it through to the other side."

Investigators say the body of the first victim, 53-year-old Angelo De Nardo of San Diego, was found the morning of July 3 in an open area off the 2700 block of Morena Boulevard in Bay Park. An autopsy determined that De Nardo died prior to being set on fire.

Sixty-one-year-old Manuel Mason was found severely wounded in an area near Valley View Casino Center in the Midway district shortly before 5 a.m. on the Fourth of July.

Less than 90 minutes after the assault on Mason, 41-year-old Shawn Longley was found dead at a park on Bacon Street in Ocean Beach.

Former district attorney Paul Pfingst calls it "one of the most unusual series of killings" he's ever seen in his life.

"Usually, serial killers kill over weeks or months, not over days," Pfingst said. "And this made the police department have to take action much more quickly than they probably would have wished to."

Police arrested Anthony Padgett for the murders Thursday.

Pfingst says the last thing police wanted to do was release him four days later, but they couldn't find enough evidence to hold him.

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"The police department is trying to stop the next killing which could take place within 24 or 48 hours," Pfingst said. "The clock was ticking."

Police believe the man caught on surveillance video buying gasoline at a gas station near the location of the first attack is the serial killer, but they can't say for certain if that man was Anthony Padgett.

"I really hope there's justice here for him and this person gets stopped," Osbahr said.

"I know where he is and I just hope that it's a lot easier for him," Lee said.

Police say the best way to catch the killer is someone coming forward with new information.