An Orange County Fire Authority vehicle. Photo by John Schreiber.
An Orange County Fire Authority vehicle. Photo by John Schreiber.

Police asked Thursday for the public’s help in locating a transient who was known to stay on the property of a Seal Beach man who died in an arson fire last weekend.

According to a Seal Beach Police Department bulletin, 37-year-old Eric Jesus Andrade “may be a person of interest associated with this crime.”

The victim, John Donnelly, would let Andrade sleep on his property by his garage, according to Seal Beach police Sgt. Phil Gonshak.

Investigators suspect the blaze that killed the 67-year-old Donnelly and his dog on Saturday was deliberately set because a police dog sniffed an accelerant at the scorched two-story duplex in the 200 block of 17th Street, Gonshak said. Police have not yet nailed down the type of accelerant used, he said.

The homeless population in Seal Beach is tight-knit, so it is unusual for the transients in the area to not know where Andrade has been for the past several days, Gonshak said.

“The transient population is well interconnected,” he said. “They know where each other stays, their spots, their daily routines, and this guy is literally gone and it’s extremely bizarre. And it’s no secret we’re looking for him and he still isn’t coming forward.”

The sergeant added, “We need to find this guy so we can clear his name or find out more information … that’s relevant to our case.”

Police have been poring over several hours of surveillance video for clues, Gonshak said.

Donnelly would let Andrade sleep on his property below the apartment by the garage, where a chair was there for the transient to use, Gonshak said.

Andrade is 5-foot-9, weighs about 160 pounds and has brown eyes and brown hair. Anyone with information about his whereabouts was asked to call Detective Pete Krok at (562) 799-4100, ext. 1110, or police dispatchers at (562) 594-7232.

—City News Service

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