Police Capt. Darryl McAllister said the suspect, Karl George Sanft, came to the attention of law enforcement Tuesday afternoon when residents of a Sunnyvale neighborhood noticed him acting suspiciously in a vehicle.
McAllister said Sunnyvale police questioned Sanft and determined that the car he was in had been stolen from Manheim San Francisco Bay Auto Auction, the lot where two men had been fatally stabbed earlier that day.
The victims were 63-year-old Angelito Erasquin of Hayward and 56-year-old James Wightman of Central Point, Ore.
Erasquin worked as a security guard at the business for eight years, and Wightman was a truck driver who routinely delivered automobiles to the business, police said.
The auto auction business is on a 73-acre property that houses more than 2,000 cars.
On Tuesday morning, police initially thought they were responding to a hit-and-run accident, as a caller told police dispatchers at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday that a car had struck a pedestrian on Addison Way, outside the lot.
Responding officers found Erasquin's body in the street. While searching the property, they found Wightman in the cab of an idling big-rig parked near the entrance to the property, McAllister said. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Sanft was booked into jail for being in possession of a stolen car, but authorities soon developed evidence that linked him to the homicides. Sanft eventually confessed in a three-and-a-half hour interview with police early this morning, McAllister said.
It appears Erasquin was stabbed after he observed Sanft trying to break into the auto auction lot and that Sanft then targeted Wightman because he witnessed the stabbing, McAllister said.
Sanft appears to have acted alone, McAllister said. Police have recovered a large knife that they believe Sanft used to kill the two victims.
Sanft is being held in the Santa Rita jail and is expected to be arraigned Friday afternoon.