A nonprofit organization is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever killed a man found dead in an East Palo Alto park on Nov. 7, police announced Wednesday.
The body of Santiago Gonzalez-Gonzalez, 51, was found in Martin Luther King Park on Nov. 7. Police had responded to a 911 call of a deceased person at the park, located in the 400 block of Daisy Lane, where they found the homeless man who was known to frequent the open space at about 10:15 a.m. that day.
The man had visible injuries and an investigation determined the case was a homicide, police said. He was well-known to many in the surrounding area, who held a weeklong prayer vigil for him at the park under his favorite tree.
Mothers Against Murder, a nonprofit organization formed in 2003 to support grieving families of murder victims, and East Palo Alto Police Department have teamed up to provide the reward.
Mothers Against Murder is offering the reward to bring awareness and raise empathy within the community, Executive Director Margaret Petros said in a written statement.
"Santiago was a human being that deserved to live within a violent free community. Santiago’s unfortunate circumstances left him homeless. What we know about Santiago is he was a 51-year-old, peaceful and decent man who cleaned up after himself where he slept at the park. It’s painful for all who loved Santiago and who care about the homeless population to experience such a tragic loss. We wish to prevent the horrific crime of murder and need everyone’s help. Reporting what you know to police is the first step," she said.
Petros said that as a civilized society, it is the community's responsibility to help law enforcement bring Santiago’s killer to justice. In addition to the reward, Mothers Against Murder is also available to provide emotional support to a victim's family and friends and anyone from the community that is emotionally struggling with violence — especially the violence against vulnerable individuals such as Santiago, she said.
"We appreciate the police department's difficult and sensitive work of investigating a homicide. We can have a better success of resolving these cases when working together for the good of a just community. Please report what you know to the East Palo Alto Police Department," Roger Smith, Mothers Against Murder founder and chair, said in the statement.
Anyone with information about the homicide is asked to call East Palo Alto police Detective Robert Weigand at 650-853-7250. Those wishing to stay anonymous can send an email to [email protected] or text or voicemail to 650-409-6792.