Prosecutors: Man charged with five counts of murder in three separate incidents

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UPDATE:  Sheriff’s officials say they’re looking for a second man in connection with the killings of Atkinson and Valdez.

Edward Diaz 

Edward Diaz, 29, has two warrants out for his arrest charging him with murder, according to deputies. Diaz is described as Hispanic, 5-foot-10, about 240 pounds, black hair and brown eyes. 

Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 861-3110. 

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — If the allegations hold true, Louie Ricardo Perez could be one of the most prolific – and brutal – killers in Kern County history.

On Tuesday, Perez pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder – bringing the total counts of murder against him to five. He’s eligible for the death penalty but prosecutors have not yet decided whether to seek death. 

The latest charges allege the 45-year-old killed two men whose bodies were found June 13 in a grape vineyard near Arvin. Samuel Atkinson, 42, and Vincent Paul Valdez, 49, were bound and beaten on the head with a blunt object, according to court documents. Their throats were cut and bodies set on fire. 

The vehicle of one of the victims was located a few days later. Inside was a badly dented baseball bat that appeared to have blood on it. DNA testing linked Perez to the bat, the documents say.

He was already in custody when arrested on the new charges.

Perez has been held without bail since Dec. 5 in connection with the grisly slaying of Victor Manuel Vasquez, whose body was found in a bathtub in a southwest Bakersfield apartment. 

Perez and Daniel Animas, 36, are charged in the killing of the 37-year-old Vasquez. Police said in court documents it appeared as if an attempt had been made to decapitate him. 

Additionally, Perez and Animas face murder charges in the deaths of Celenna Sanchez and Jessie James John, whose bodies were discovered Oct. 6 at a home on Lomita Drive.

A motive in the killings remains unknown, but an investigation is ongoing. 

In Kern County, it appears few have killed as many people as Perez is alleged to have killed.

Former elementary school vice principal Vincent Brothers is on death row for the 2003 murders of his wife, Joanie Harper; their three children, Marques, Lyndsey and Marshall; and Joanie Harper’s mother, Earnestine.

Last year, Javier Casarez shot and killed his ex-wife, Petra Maribel Bolanos de Casarez, and four others before turning the gun on himself. Twelve days before the shooting rampage, Petra had asked for child and spousal support from her former husband.

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