FRESNO COUNTY — A Squaw Valley man appeared in court Wednesday after a yearslong investigation tied him to three separate murders.
The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office filed three counts of murder against Buford King, a 33-year-old Army veteran who served in Iraq.
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office says King’s three victims, 35-year-old Aleksey Shelest and 62-year-old Donnie Lee, both of Squaw Valley, as well as 51-year-old Alberto Contreras of Visalia, all knew the accused killer.
Investigators say a missing persons report was filed with the Visalia Police Department in July 2011 after Contreras disappeared. Shelest was last heard from in May 2016 while he was in Squaw Valley. Then, nearly six months later, Lee disappeared after he was last seen in the area of Squaw Valley and Sand Creek roads, where King’s Squaw Valley home was also located.
On Aug. 20, 2017, the sheriff’s office received a report regarding a man who had been shot in the foot while doing some construction work in the area of King’s home. The man also knew King.
Detectives went to King’s home, where a SWAT team took him into custody on suspicion of shooting the man and possessing explosive materials. He was also considered a person of interest in the disappearances of Lee and Shelest, but no evidence was found at the time that could tie him to the cases.
King has been in jail since Feb. 20, 2019.
Evidence pointed detectives back to King’s home, along with a property on Avenue 264 in Visalia, to search for the three missing men, according to the sheriff’s office. Between March and April, after more than 700 hours of digging, Lee and Shelest’s remains were found buried on King’s property. Contreras’ remains were dug up at the Visalia property.
King’s bail has been set at $3 million.