Pulling Apart the Stockton Serial Killer Case


Nishita Mukherjee

Stockton Police Department have arrested a suspect, but are still finalizing who is behind the murders.

Anika Kodali and Nishita Mukherjee

In late September, Stockton Police Department (P.D.) reported a possible serial killer, charged for over six murders and one attempted murder. On Oct. 15, it was discovered that all five victims were killed within a close proximity and short time period, all leading to a possible suspect.

In definition, a serial killer is one who murders three or more people. To be classified as a serial killer, it requires for the killings to be at different time periods. According to the Serial Murder Symposium, killers have various motives and common ones that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has stated are; anger, criminal enterprise, financial gain, ideology, power/thrill, psychosis and sexually-based.

The Stockton P.D. recently arrested a suspect, Wesley Brownlee, a 43-year-old male. They received numerous tips about suspicious behavior from him so the police investigated it by tracking his movements. At 2 a.m. on Oct 15, he was caught driving around Central Valley with a gun present in the car. Brownlee claimed he was “out hunting”, but the police strongly believed he was out to make another kill. Currently, he is only being charged for three murders, possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition. It is said that he used a ghost gun (an unregistered selfmade fire arm) to commit the murders. He has a previous criminal record in both California and Arizona.

The recent five murders in Stockton happened between July and Sept. of this year. The victims included Paul Alexander Yaw, Lawrence “Lorenzo” Lopez Sr., Juan Cruz, Jonathan Hernández Rodríguez, and Salvador William Debudy Jr. Later on in the case, the Stockton P.D. connected the suspect to two more similar shootings in 2021, and proceeded to include those as the killer’s victims. These victims were Juan “Miguel” Vasquez Serrano, who, unlike the others, was killed in Oakland, and Natasha LaTour who was the only lasting survivor of the killer’s attempts, after being shot 10 times. All victims were killed by gunshots, of an excessive amount. 

LaTour recalls the moment that changed her life as she explains to 209 Times. “They already had a gun out, and they just started shooting. I just saw flashes,” she remembered.

As Stockton P.D. investigates, they have found it difficult to secure a main motive for why the killer chose these specific victims. It is still questioned whether or not the chosen victims were intentional or chosen at random. So far, none of the victims  have any connection to each other. Some of them were homeless, making them easier targets for the killer to attack. Another common trend between the victims was that most of them were Hispanic. Police also believe the attacker may have been under the influence of drugs, or they contain psychotic problems, which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is actively working with Stockton P.D. on to see if that is the case. 

Stockton Police Chief, Stanley McFadden, further explains how this case was different in comparison to other murders, where the motives did not match up.He specifically noted how the attacker did not rob any of the suspects, no trace of gang activity, and how the killers only notable trait is his element of surprise.

McFadden later on made a statement to the victims families, in respect and as a promise in ABC News. “Even though [there] 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.