STOCKTON, Calif. - Three murder charges were filed Tuesday against the man suspected of carrying out a series of killings in Stockton and one in Oakland.
Wesley Brownlee, 43, was only charged for the three most recent slayings that happened in Stockton.
Brownlee did not enter a plea during his first court appearance Tuesday in San Joaquin Superior Court. Prosecutors allege that Brownlee killed Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21; Juan Cruz, 52; and Lawrence Lopez Sr., 54. He was also charged with a special circumstance of murder by San Joaquin County district attorney's office.
Hernandez Rodriguez was killed Aug. 30, Cruz was killed Sept. 21 and Lopez was killed Sept. 27.
Brownlee is suspected of killing two other people in Stockton and one in Oakland. He is also accused of shooting and wounding a woman in Stockton. He has not been charged in any of those cases at this time.
Police said some victims were homeless, but not all. None was beaten or robbed, and the woman who survived said her attacker didn’t say anything.
Brownlee was arrested Saturday morning "while out hunting" for another victim, according to Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden.
Investigators said Brownlee was found driving around with a gun and mask "on a mission to kill."
Brownlee was born in San Francisco but grew up in Oakland along Seminary Avenue. He was living in Stockton at the time of his arrest.
His childhood home was just a few blocks from where Oakland victim Juan Miguel Vazquez Serrano was killed in April 2021. Brownlee is a suspect in the case but has not yet been charged by Alameda County prosecutors. That was the earliest of the murders attributed to an alleged serial killer.
Court records shed light on Brownlee’s family life and mental state, as first reported by the East Bay Times.
Documents obtained by KTVU show he is one of his mother’s six children and has a criminal history that dates back decades.
In May 1994, at age 14, he and two boys were accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl. Documents say he denied the allegation and instead accused his friends.
Later that year, records show he was arrested and accused of selling cocaine to an undercover officer. He was put on house arrest as a juvenile.
In October 1995, his older brother Dale Brownlee, 17, was shot and killed along East 16th Street in Oakland.
Court records say Wesley Brownlee became "very distressed over his death" and his mother said he "seems continuously depressed," suggesting he get therapy.
A probation report states he was found to be "mentally slow" and "learning disabled." Documents say in school he had low grades, poor attendance and didn’t finish high school.
In 1997, at age 18, he was arrested and charged for having a large amount of crack cocaine. Brownlee was sentenced to two years in prison.
After he was out, Brownlee continued to live with his mother in Stockton. His parents had split up years earlier, a probation report says.
But in 2014, he was accused again in Alameda County of selling crack cocaine. The drug crime occurred along East 16th Street right near where his brother was killed.
Records show he pleaded no contest and served some jail time before three years probation.