Investigators search landfill for missing man

September 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Vallejo chemist charged with possessing bomb-making materials at the center of a killing spree made his first court appearance Friday.

Charles Rittenhouse's lawyer strongly denies the official charges against him, as well as the allegations made outside court that he is a person of interest in a double murder.

Rittenhouse, once a housemate of Efren Valdemoro, was arraigned in a Fairfield court on two felony explosives charges related to the chemicals, C4, dynamite and possible depleted uranium found in his Vallejo backyard.

Rittenhouse entered a plea of not guilty on the explosives charges. His bail remains at $2 million, set high because of allegations that the 72-year-old chemist may also be involved in the murders of two women found at his house.

The women have been identified as Marcaria Smart and Rittenhouse's wife Segundina Allen.

"He's a victim in all this," Rittenhouse's attorney Leslie Prince said.

Prince maintains Rittenhouse did not know the women's bodies were in the house.

But police say Rittenhouse remains a "person of interest" in the two murders. Investigators claim he did not act normal when confronted with information that the bodies were in his house.

His attorney says someone else put them there.

"I have reason to believe the bodies were just put there sometime that day, Tuesday, the day of his arrest," Prince said.

Also on Friday, two dozen searchers and a cadaver dog sifted through 3,000 tons of debris by hand at a Pittsburg landfill, searching for the body of 35-year-old Frederick Sales.

"The tipping area is dirt, over garbage; it's very solid," Keller Canyon Landfill spokesperson Rick King said.

Salas' father Rick Sales was found bludgeoned to death in his Hercules home on Saturday morning.

Efren Valdemoro, a suspect in the murder, was shot and killed by police at the 99 Market in Richmond. The body of Valdemoro's girlfriend Cindy Tran was found in his car.

Police have found Frederick Salas' car, but not him. They think the younger Sales' body could be in the landfill because it contains garbage that came from a business park in Hercules where Valdemoro used to work, and where one murder victim's car was found.

"The area that they're searching is solid waste that came from the North Shore Business Park, which as you know, was where the Cadillac Escalade was discovered," Hercules police spokesperson Michelle Harrington said.

Memorial tonight

A public memorial service will be held tonight in Vallejo at the salon where the suspect's girlfriend, Cindy Tran worked. Tran was found strangled to death after Valdemoro was shot and killed by officers. The memorial begins at 7 p.m. tonight in the Glen Cove Shopping Center.


Load Comments