By Khalida Sarwari
The South Bay law enforcement community gathered in San Jose today to celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Fugitive Watch,” and ask for the public’s help in identifying three suspects in cold case investigations in Hayward, Menlo Park, and San Jose.
Bay Area-based “Fugitive Watch” was founded in 1992 by retired San Jose police Officers Steve Ferdin and Scott Castruita as a crime-fighting tool to nab wanted suspects. Since then, the organization has aided in the capture of more than 1,000 fugitives, according to Castruita.
This afternoon, “Fugitive Watch” commemorated 20 years of running a successful television show, newspaper and website.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen commended the organization for its efforts in helping law enforcement solve numerous crimes.
“Newspaper stories are about when crimes happen and when the people are victimized,” Rosen said. “It’s hard to write a newspaper story about people who weren’t victims, about crimes that didn’t happen because of the work that organizations like “Fugitive Watch” have done.”
At the luncheon, Ferdin and Castruita released age-enhanced sketches of suspects that were featured in early episodes of “Fugitive Watch” and remain at-large.
One of the suspects is Salvador Negrete Suarez, a man San Jose police are seeking for the Dec. 26, 1990 murder of 25-year-old Sunnyvale resident Adan Villano Mendoza.
Detectives believe that at about 1:30 a.m., Suarez pulled up next to Mendoza while driving south on U.S. Highway 101 near Guadalupe Parkway in San Jose and fatally shot Mendoza.
Suarez is believed to have fled to Jalisco, Mexico, but may have returned to San Jose and is possibly living under a different identity, police said.
The FBI is also seeking Suarez on a federal warrant for the crime.
At the time of the murder, Suarez was 35-years-old and described as being 5 foot 9 inches and weighing 170 pounds. He had brown hair, brown eyes and two distinct facial moles.
The second cold case involves a 40-year-old man named John Timothy Shinnick, who police suspect shot a parked motorist in the face during a robbery in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant near Jackson Street and Cypress Avenue in Hayward 16 years ago.
He was described as standing at 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing about 170 pounds, with red hair and green eyes. He had tattoos.
Shinnick is known to go by “Scott Trey” and “John Bradshaw” and has been seen in Hayward, San Jose, and Mountain View. He may be currently living in Tennessee.
The third suspect is 41-year-old Jose Pantoja Mendoza, wanted by Menlo Park police for killing a man at a gas station on Marsh Road in the early 1990s. He was found and arrested in Mexico, but escaped from custody before he was extradited to Menlo Park.
Mendoza was described as being 5 feet 11 inches, weighing 160 pounds, and having black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information about the Suarez case is asked to call the San Jose police homicide unit at (408) 277-5283. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call the Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at (408) 947-STOP (7867) or visit http://svcrimestoppers.org/.
Residents are also encouraged to call Fugitive Watch with information about any of the three cases at (800) 9-CAUGHT (8448) or text a tip to (408) 355-0999.