Search ends for missing father of slain children
June 1, 2003
DAVENPORT, Calif. — Police called off their search along the northern California coast Saturday for the missing father of two children found slain in their home earlier in the week, saying they would refocus their efforts elsewhere despite indications the man may have committed suicide.
Authorities searched on foot and by air Saturday morning along a rugged strip of coastline between Santa Cruz and San Francisco where Jose Zacarias’ brown Ford Taurus was discovered early Friday.
Kim Allyn, a spokesman for the Santa Cruz County sheriff’s department, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the area was a place where many despondent people had gone to commit suicide.
“All indications are that this is a suicide on the heels of a homicide,” he said.
Zacarias’ car was found along a steep cliff that drops hundreds of feet to the ocean. There have been at least three suicides in the area in the past year, a sheriff’s deputy said.
Police described Zacarias, a grocery store nightshift worker who lives in Santa Clara, as a “person of interest” in relation to the deaths of 3-year-old Nicholas and 9-year-old Harmony.
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Zacarias’s wife, Kim Zacarias, found her children dead in their beds when she returned home from work Thursday. A detective described the blood-spattered scene as “gruesome” and “brutal.”
Police said Nicholas was the missing man’s son, and Harmony was his stepdaughter.
Rodriguez said investigators had refocused their search to Santa Clara County and to San Diego, where Zacarias has family.
“We’re keeping all avenues open,” Rodriguez said.
Still, Rodriquez said there was “a likelihood” that Zacarias was dead, and his body was in the ocean.
“My understanding is that when someone is in the surf, it could take a few days for them to surface,” he said.
Meanwhile, police have refused to disclose the contents of a note found inside Zacarias’ car.