Fishermen Offer Reward in Stabbing of Watchman

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

One day after a 69-year-old night watchman was found stabbed to death aboard a tuna boat at the G Street Pier, police have no new leads, and tuna fishermen have offered a reward for information about the killing.

The body of Joseph Ferreira Fernandes, a retired commercial fisherman from San Diego who worked as a night watchman aboard the seiner Sea Quest, was found early Sunday morning.

August Felando, president of the American Tunaboat Assn., offered a $10,000 reward Monday for information leading to the arrest of Fernandes' killer.

Police are concentrating on tracking down Fernandes' car, which apparently was stolen from the area. Homicide Lt. Jim Duncan of the San Diego police said that whoever killed Fernandes may have taken the car.

Duncan said Fernandes' car was a 1984 white Nissan 200-SX with blue interior and license plate number 1KTE406. Fernandes usually parked his car at the pier. The boat Fernandes worked on is docked at 600 Harbor Drive.

Fernandes worked aboard the Sea Quest, which is owned by Manuel Silva of San Diego.

"I'm under the impression that he was doing this night watchman stuff for extra money," Duncan said.

News of the watchman's death has led some San Diego Bay fishermen to the realization that violent crime could occur just as easily on harbor slips as city streets.

One commercial fisherman, John Brown, glanced at a scraggly looking man strolling down a dock at the G Street Pier Monday afternoon.

"It seems like we have a lot more strangers hanging around lately," Brown said. "I keep my dog on board my boat. There are just too many things stolen off of it."

"That's the first time that anything like that has ever happened," said Jim Basham, a commercial fisherman from San Pedro. "I'm sure these guys are all concerned. It's a real shock that an old man was murdered--for nothing, really."

Fernandes was found at the port-side bulkhead in a fish storage area, hidden beneath plastic sheathing and ship equipment. Police said Fernandes was apparently attacked in the ship's galley, and his body dropped to the lower deck.

Fishermen said they have occasionally had problems with thieves breaking onto their boats to steal tools or radios, but never armed robbers or murderers.

"Who can say why something like this happens?" said Joe Anfuso, chief engineer for the tuna ship Mary Antionette. "You have so many drifters along this waterfront. The druggies and transients come out at night."

Anfuso said the fact that the waterfront is usually so peaceful might have made Fernandes less cautious than he should have been.

"He had been on the job for 10 years without incident," Anfuso said. "Don't you think he might get a little lax?"

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