In the days before the murder of a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputy, suspect David Machado went to the Ceres mobile home park where he formerly lived to ask an old friend for money, his car, or a ride out of town. Paranoid and in an apparent drug-induced psychosis, he told the friend people were out to get him and that he needed to lay low; there was no way he was going back to jail.
He had lost his family, his home and his job; his life was over.
Authorities say Machado executed Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputy Dennis Wallace, who on Sunday morning was investigating a reported stolen van near Hughson. Investigators searched for Machado at Orchard Village Mobile Home Park, where he lived and worked as a manager a few years ago, but he was ultimately arrested in Tulare County a few hours after the shooting.
Machado’s former neighbors were shocked by news of the deputy’s killing. They were heartbroken for the deputy’s grieving family and wondered how Machado’s life took such a tragic turn.
“I can’t believe this happened; it’s insane,” said Codee Stanfield, who moved into the mobile home park several years ago when Machado worked as a property manager there.
On Monday, Stanfield said he was glad Machado didn’t return to the mobile home park Sunday seeking money and help, which would’ve been the fourth time Machado visited his former workplace this past weekend.
Machado showed up at Stanfield’s home on Friday night. Before that he hadn’t seen him for about a year and a half.
“When he came here Friday night, that wasn’t the Dave I expected,” Stanfield said.
He said he was astonished by how much Machado had changed. He said Machado was acting paranoid; he had an aggressive stance and rocked from foot to foot. It appeared Machado was under the influence of methamphetamine.
“He looked like hell, sucked-up and skinny,” Stanfield said. “He lost about 25 pounds since I last saw him.”
He said Machado was ranting about losing everything, and it was obvious he had turned to living on the streets. Stanfield remembered Machado’s pants and boots were covered in mud. Machado was driving his mother’s red Saturn sedan, because he didn’t want some guys from Keyes to spot him driving around in his pickup, he told Stanfield.
Suspect repeatedly asked for money
Stanfield owed Machado a few hundred dollars for the purchase of some dirt bikes. He said Machado was desperate for money and a ride to Denair or Delhi. Stanfield said it was obvious Machado wanted money for drugs, so he gave him $10 to leave.
Machado returned to Stanfield’s home Saturday afternoon, again asking for money. This time, Machado arrived in a white van. Stanfield said he gave Machado $20, and he left soon after. That same evening, Machado returned to the mobile home park a third time.
Stanfield spotted him hiding in the property’s laundry room. He walked out to talk to Stanfield.
“He wanted to kill himself; his life was done,” Stanfield said.
Machado never told Stanfield who he was hiding from and why he thought he was going to jail. Stanfield said it appeared Machado was suffering from severe paranoia induced by meth use. Machado wasn’t like that when he first met him.
“It just goes to show, no matter who you are, this is what drugs can do to you,” Stanfield said.
He remembered Machado as a hard worker; respectful and kind to tenants. Machado used to live at the mobile home park with his wife and two kids before losing his job there. Stanfield said Machado and his family were forced to move out, and his relationship with his wife ended some time after that.
Peggy Pearson said Machado was fired from his job at the mobile home park, but she didn’t know why. She has lived there for 23 years and also remembered Machado as a nice young man who offered to help her and her husband, both disabled.
“I don’t know what happened to him,” Pearson said. “I would like to know what made him go down the path that he did because this just wasn’t him.”
Neighborhood on lockdown during search
Friends say Machado, 37, graduated from Turlock High School in the late ’90s. It’s unclear where he lived after moving out of the mobile home park, which was one of several locations the sheriff’s department searched following the shooting.
The neighborhood was on lockdown for several hours while deputies searched the mobile home park.
Neighbors said it appeared a Special Weapons And Tactics team was preparing to enter Machado’s former property, before authorities were notified he’d had been captured in Tulare County after reportedly trying to snatch a woman’s purse. Most of the investigators then left the mobile home park, while some stayed to questions residents.
A few blocks southwest of the mobile home park, authorities searched an apartment at a small complex on Rohde Road near Highway 99. A woman at the home with shattered front windows declined to discuss what investigators were looking for and whether Machado had been there Sunday morning.
Authorities say the sheriff’s deputy spotted a suspicious white van at 8:24 a.m. Sunday in the Fox Grove fishing access near Hughson. Dispatchers said the van was reported stolen, so Wallace asked for backup. Seconds later, Wallace was shot in the head twice at close range.
It’s unclear whether the white van seen at the mobile home park was the same vehicle the deputy spotted near Hughson. Sheriff’s officials on Monday directed all questions about the murder investigation to the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s office. Prosecutors declined to discuss the investigation or Machado’s background.
Stanislaus County court records indicate Machado was charged with a series of misdemeanors and infractions dating back to 1998. His convictions include charges of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, providing false information to police officer, no vehicle registration, failing to use seat belts and driving without a valid license.
Machado has one pending criminal case on an August 2014 felony charge of unlawfully possessing a gun. The case is scheduled to return to court Nov. 23.
On Sunday, Sheriff Adam Christianson said Machado was wanted on a felony warrant before the shooting occurred. It’s unclear what that criminal charge was.
Sheriff’s investigators on Monday asked for the public’s help to determine everything Machado did and where he was before he allegedly shot and killed Wallace. The investigators are trying to establish a timeline that leads up to the deadly shooting.
Detectives also want to speak to anyone who has been in contact with Machado before the shooting or was involved in any incidents with the suspect.
Machado was in custody Monday at the county jail, where he is being held without bail. His first court appearance has not yet been scheduled. Prosecutors believe Machado likely will be arraigned Tuesday.
Sheriff’s officials ask anyone with information about Machado to call sheriff’s Detective Josh Sandoval at 209-525-7073.
A memorial fund for Wallace has been set up at www.stanislaussworn.com/donation.html.