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February 10, 2010 > Hayward police arrests a suspect in double homicide case

Hayward police arrests a suspect in double homicide case

Submitted By Darryl McAllister
Photos By courtesy of Darryl McAllister

The Hayward Police Department has made an arrest in the case of the double homicide that occurred at the Manheim San Francisco Bay Auto Auction (formerly the Bay Cities Auto Auction), 1901 Addison Way in Hayward. Under arrest is 34 year-old Karl George Sanft of Union City.

Six investigators have been dedicated to this case around the clock since the brutal scene was discovered on Tuesday, February 2 about 5:30 a.m. The two victims, whose identities were confirmed by the Coroner and released yesterday, had each been stabbed repeatedly by someone who escaped the area before the bodies were discovered. Fifty-six year-old James Wightman, a resident of Central Point, Oregon, was a truck driver who routinely delivered automobiles to the auction. His body was found in the cab of an idling big-rig parked on the lot of the property near the entrance. Angelito Erasquin, 63, of Hayward was a uniformed auto auction security guard whose body lay in the street near the entrance gate of the property.

While investigators worked feverishly to determine what may have led to the killings, several items of evidence located at the scene suggested whoever was responsible could have fled the scene in any one of more than 2,000 auction cars on the lot. An exhaustive company inventory would take considerable time, and there was nothing to derive any suspect description or description of any missing vehicles.

Hayward investigators questioned Sanft, who had been detained Tuesday afternoon by the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety. He had been reported as an occupant of a suspicious vehicle parked in a Sunnyvale neighborhood in a way that seemed out of place. Although it took some time, the car was determined to have been stolen from the auto auction inventory, but not reported. Sanft was ultimately booked for being in possession of the stolen car. Hayward investigators spent most of Wednesday piecing together the information and evidence of whether the Sunnyvale arrest might somehow be related to the Hayward murders. Sanft was brought in for questioning last night and he eventually confessed to having committed the murders. He was formally arrested for the murders around 7 a.m. Thursday, February 4.

Investigators believe Sanft was breaking into the auto auction lot, possibly to steal a car, when Security Guard Erasquin encountered Sanft and was stabbed multiple times during that encounter. Evidence suggests Sanft also targeted Mr. Wightman, who was likely witnessing what was going on from the cab of his big-rig truck, and attacked Mr. Wightman inside the cab, stabbing him numerous times, then fled the scene in the car he was in the process of stealing. Our evidence is that Sanft acted alone in this crime. Several searches, including a search warrant served on Sanft's home and personal car, have yielded unspecified items evidence. Investigators also have custody of a knife believed to have been used during the murders.

This brutal crime has profoundly affected the victims' families, the employees of the Manheim San Francisco Bay Auto Auction, and both the Hayward and Central Point communities. The Hayward Police Department has been providing counselors and other coping services to family members and coworkers since the discovery on Tuesday, and the City of Hayward will continue to support those affected by this tragedy. We also wish to express our gratitude to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, whose head's up response provided us with the break we needed to solve this terrible case.

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