Cupertino Courier

Jailed man charged in another killing

- By Robert Salonga rsalonga@ bayareanew­

SAN JOSE >> A man long jailed in connection with a violent crime spree in the summer of 2021 — which left a man dead, several people seriously injured and an East Bay police officer recovering from a vehicle assault — is now linked to the presumed shooting death of a Coyote Creek man who has never been found, authoritie­s said.

Ricardo Padilla, 34, has been charged with the 2021 murder of 43-year-old Samuel Torres even though Torres' body is still missing. Court documents indicate authoritie­s are not hopeful about recovering his remains, based on investigat­ors' contention that Padilla arranged — from jail — for the body to be exhumed from a shallow grave, then dismembere­d and scattered across the South Bay.

The only other instance in modern Santa Clara County history where a murder charge was filed without a victim's body was the infamous case of Sierra Lamar, the Morgan Hill teen who was kidnapped, raped and killed by Antolin Garcia-torres in 2012.

Padilla has been held without bail at the Santa Clara County Main Jail since his arrest on July 4, 2021, near Coyote Creek, after he allegedly ditched a handgun while fleeing San Jose police officers. That is also the same day Torres was reported missing, though investigat­ors now believe he was shot and killed a few days earlier.

Padilla was charged in 2021 and 2022 with two assaults during an alleged summer crime spree that ended with the July 2021 arrest. Last month, the district attorney's office charged him with Torres' killing and the fatal May 31, 2021, shooting of 49-year-old Thomas Calamia, along with two other assaults from that month.

Padilla appeared in a San Jose courtroom Jan. 31 for arraignmen­t on the new charges, but the hearing was postponed until Feb. 1 to sort out conflicts with his other active cases.

Prosecutor Irene Williams noted that the victims of the crimes charged against Padilla were especially vulnerable because they were predominan­tly homeless and living on the streets.

“He's a violent individual and and our goal is to keep him in custody,” Williams said. “If he is out of custody, he will cause more harm.”

Padilla was jailed without bail because of a criminal history that included multiple prison stints over the past decade — for conviction­s covering assault with a deadly weapon, evading and resisting police officers, auto theft and illegal weapons and drug possession. That stay in custody gave San Jose police detectives the latitude to methodical­ly tie him to the slew of crimes.

That included Calamia's killing near West Virginia and Prevost streets just south of downtown. Padilla was implicated through a car described by Calamia before he died and corroborat­ed by surveillan­ce video, according to a detective's investigat­ive summary.

He is also suspected of stabbing a person at Second and Margaret streets on May 9 of that year. The investigat­ion also accused him of assaulting a man outside a 7-Eleven on Bird Avenue on May 11, and of stabbing another man near Coyote Creek that same day.

On June 4, 2021, Padilla is alleged to have rammed his car into a Livermore police motorcycle officer during a traffic stop in that city, prompting an attempted murder arrest warrant to be issued for him. The officer suffered moderate injuries. On June 22, police say he shot and wounded a man on Berkeley Way off South Jackson Avenue in San Jose.

Court records show that after his arrest, Padilla was charged July 6 in Santa Clara County with illegal weapons and drug possession and having burglary tools. About a week later, he was charged with attempted murder and auto theft in the May 9 stabbing. Padilla was charged with the June 2021 shooting the following February when prosecutor­s filed three assault charges against him for the shooting victim and two other victims who were not hit, according to court records.

A second police investigat­ive summary accompanyi­ng the murder charges states that on the day Padilla was arrested, a relative of Torres told police that he might have been shot and killed near Wool Creek Drive near Coyote Creek. But early searches of the area did not turn up evidence of a crime or signs of Torres, police wrote.

Over the next month, police got multiple tips saying Torres was shot and killed near the creek, and that Padilla was the shooter. Homicide detectives contacted one of the initial tipsters who claimed to have been with Torres in the last week of June 2021 when they split up while running away from a loose dog at an encampment, according to police.

That witness said he ran into a tent and a few minutes later, heard two gunshots. When he emerged from the tent, he reportedly told detectives he found Torres' body, and ran off out of fear for his safety.

Police state in the investigat­ive summary that two more witnesses implicated Padilla in Torres' death, including one who claimed that Padilla admitted to killing Torres and burying him behind his encampment along the creek. That witness also reportedly told detectives that following Padilla's arrest, he saw two men digging in the spot that Padilla had identified as the burial location.

The witness also recalled a later interactio­n in which one of the men openly described how he dug up Torres' body, “dismembere­d it, placed the parts in plastic bags, and disposed of the body parts in dumpsters and storm drains.” Padilla appears to have arranged for the exhumation in part through a jail call to his cousin about three weeks after he was arrested, according to the investigat­ive summary.

Authoritie­s say they used ground radar equipment to identify three possible shallow graves in the area, and recovered some clothing, but no signs of Torres' remains. Still, detectives, and now prosecutor­s, moved forward with their murder cases against Padilla.

Anyone with informatio­n about Padilla for investigat­ors can contact the SJPD homicide unit at 408277-5283 or email Detective Sgt. J.J. Vallejo at 3810@ or Detective Mike Harrington at 4365@ Tips can also be left with Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at 408-9477867 or at svcrimesto­ppers. org.

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