N. Calif. police chief accepts blame for not finding second body at house

A Northern California police chief accepted blame Friday for his officers' failure to quickly find a second dead body hidden in a home where a 73-year-man was discovered fatally beaten two weeks ago.

Hercules police Chief Fred Deltorchio said he was disappointed that it took until Thursday to discover the unidentified male body heavily wrapped in three layers of plastic and a carpet behind a fake wall in a J-shaped closet under some stairs.

The body was sealed so tightly that no smells could escape, he said.

"To search a house and not find a body is disappointing. And unacceptable," Deltorchio said. "The bottom line is it is my responsibility more than anybody else because I'm overseeing their actions."

An autopsy was under way to determine if the body was that of Frederick Sales, 35, who has been missing since his father Ricardo Sales was found bludgeoned to death in his bed in the home on Aug. 27.

Deltorchio said he was certain that Efren Valdemoro was behind the deaths of Sales and the person whose body was found Thursday.

Authorities said Valdemoro killed his girlfriend Cindy Tran, 46, who owned and lived in the Hercules home where the father and son stayed as housemates.

Valdemoro, 38, was shot and killed by California Highway Patrol officers following a high-speed chase in Tran's car in Richmond on Aug. 31. Valdemoro strangled Tran, whose body was found in the car after the chase, the CHP said.

On Friday, authorities canceled a weeklong search in a Pittsburg landfill for the younger Sales.

"We're holding out hope that Frederick is still alive, but this latest development is not holding out our optimism," Deltorchio said. "We've delayed the Sales family some closure if this proves to be Frederick Sales."

Valdemoro also has been linked to two Vallejo homicide victims. The bodies of Segundina Allen, 63, and her friend, Marcaria Smart, 60, were found by police in Allen's home on Aug. 31.

Allen's husband, Charles Rittenhouse, 72, stayed at the house for days without noticing the bodies, police said.

Rittenhouse later pleaded not guilty to explosives charges and has been released on bail. He has not been charged in the killing of the two women.

In previous contact with police, Valdemoro said he was living at Allen's address, Deltorchio said.

"So clearly he's connected in some way by virtue of the address," Deltorchio said.