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Victim and cause of death identified in gruesome killing

The Medical Examiner's Office today positively identified Douglas Hardy, 38, of Escondido, as the victim in the murder that took place Friday, 2/10/24 in Fallbrook at the Econolodge. The Medical Examiner's office determined from the preliminary results that the cause of death was blunt force trauma and the manner of death was a homicide.

Homicide detectives arrested 35-year-old Brian Francis Zielinski for killing Hardy the night Hardy's body was found. Zielinski was booked into San Diego Central Jail for 187 (A) PC – Murder.

Upon finding Hardy's body in a room at the Econolodge, a witness reported seeing a person, potentially the suspect, fleeing the area on foot with blood-stained clothing and provided a description to the deputies, said SDSO Lt. Jarjura.

Following the witness's account, deputies initiated a search and established a perimeter around the area. Subsequently, a neighbor near Palomino and Morro Rd reported a suspicious individual in their yard, leading to a foot chase that ended with the suspect's detainment. Sources at the scene noted the individual was found naked with blood on his body in the backyard of a nearby home.

Search and Rescue joined the effort to comb the neighborhood for evidence the next morning for several hours. Village News has learned that evidence was found, but it is unknown if the weapon was found.

Homicide investigators are working to uncover the circumstances and motive behind the death. Currently, there are no outstanding suspects, and the investigation is actively continuing.

Village News spoke to a woman who identified herself as Hardy's aunt, Connie Phillips, who said Hardy was struggling with depression but did not have a drug or alcohol problem. She said Doug was a really nice person. They spoke a couple of times a day, and they were making plans for her to move to California and he was going to help take care of her as she got older. She said he had a voucher to stay at the hotel and he was waiting for a housing voucher and was struggling to get the mental health help he needed because he didn't have a drug and alcohol problem.

A witness at the scene believed Zielinski was on meth as they said he "wreaked of it" pouring through his skin.

Zielinski is apparently from Knoxville, Tennessee. It is unknown why he was in Fallbrook. He has a long arrest record in states including Tennessee, Illinois, Arizona, and now California.

It is suspected that he was stalking a woman who wishes to remain anonymous and who does not live in San Diego. He was not able to make contact with her after he arrived in California.

Also, Zielinski has been known to parade around for weeks at a time as "Captain Jack Sparrow," who he believes he resembles. In 2017 he was written about in an online publication called "WeirldNews" after he was arrested for burglary and resisting arrest, He was sneaking into a home where he had been asked to leave because he was acting crazy and he refused, according to news accounts. He came back and entered through a bottom-story window. At that time, he had been claiming he was "Captain Jack Sparrow" and for weeks was wearing a pirate costume, complete with a black vest, brown jacket, a black pirate hat, and red gloves.

Law enforcement, including units from surrounding areas such as Oceanside, San Marcos, and Vista, responded promptly.

Video from on the scene from Gilberto Gonzalez:

For additional footage from the scene from AC Investigations, see a short video at:


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