San Francisco police have arrested James Rickleffs, 45, on suspicion of killing Steven “Eriq” Escalon, 28. Escalon, who was gay, was found bound and gagged in his apartment in the 5000 block of Diamond Heights Boulevard June 12.
Police are asking others who’ve had contact with Rickleffs, of San Francisco, to come forward.
At a news conference today (Tuesday, September 4), Lieutenant Hector Sainez, head of the San Francisco Police Department’s homicide unit, said Rickleffs was arrested Sunday night, September 2 in connection with Escalon’s murder. Police have also arrested him on charges of burglary and a probation violation related to a grand theft case.
Sainez said the arrest was based on “strong” witness and forensic evidence. He declined to say how Escalon had been killed or what the specific evidence was. However, he said Rickleffs had been found with some property that had been stolen from Escalon’s home. Items missing from the apartment had included a laptop, jewelry, and financial documents.
Police previously released a “person of interest” bulletin that included a sketch. That bulletin said that Escalon had been seen getting into a cab outside the bar 440 Castro early in the morning of the day he was killed.
Tuesday, Sainez said Escalon had met Rickleffs at a bar and agreed to take a cab to Escalon’s apartment. Police believe Rickleffs is the man in the sketch, Sainez said.
Escalon had also withdrawn money from an ATM machine, Sainez said, but he didn’t believe he’d been forced to take money out. He said he didn’t know whether Rickleffs is gay.
Police also praised Greg Carey and his group Castro Community on Patrol for their assistance in the case. The volunteer patrol group distributed fliers in the weeks after Escalon’s death asking people to provide information.
Police Chief Greg Suhr encouraged anyone who may have had a “casual conversation” with Rickleffs or had a date with him to contact police.
“Please let homicide detectives decide whether it’s important or not,” he said.
Asked if police suspect Rickleffs in other incidents, Suhr said, “We won’t know until somebody tells us.”
A police source said Rickleffs made “some incriminating statements,” and DNA was found at the scene “that links the suspect to the crime.” The source declined to elaborate on what type of DNA evidence had been found.
A date for the district attorney’s office to formally charge Rickleffs hasn’t been set.
Sergeant Scott Warnke, the lead investigator in the case, is available at (415) 553-1145.