James Rickleffs (Courtesy SFPD)

Jury convicts suspect in murder of hairdresser found bound and gagged in his home

A jury on Monday found a 52-year-old man guilty of murder in the 2012 death of a 28-year-old hairdresser found dead and bound in his Diamond Heights apartment.

James Rickleffs was convicted of murder in the June 11, 2012 death of Eric Escalon, as well as felony robbery, burglary and petty theft charges.

“Those who bring harm to others will be held accountable for their actions,” District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement on the verdict. “My heart goes out to the victim’s family, they have endured an immeasurable loss.”

Escalon, who was working as a hairdresser at the time, met Rickleffs, at the bar 440 Castro on the evening of June 11, 2012 and agreed to return with him to Escalon’s apartment.

Escalon’s roommate would discover him dead the following evening, bound in a blanket with his mouth covered in duct tape, according to court records.

SEE RELATED: ‘This isn’t BDSM’: Murder trial begins over man found bound and gagged

The defense for Rickleffs argued that the death was accidental and a “very tragic situation,” reflecting the dangers of engaging in acts of sexual bondage with no prior experience.

However, prosecutors argued that Rickleffs intended to incapacitate Escalon so he could burglarize the apartment before leaving him to die.

Rickleffs was arrested the next day, after tenants at 222 Columbus St. saw him attempting to enter the building and acting erratically and police found him in possession of Escalon’s wallet, checkbook, social security and banking cards. At the time of this arrest he was on probation for grand theft.

A date for sentencing has not yet been set.

“I want to commend the resolve of Mr. Escalon’s family in their pursuit of justice, this was an exceptionally difficult chapter in their lives,” Julia Cervantes, assistant district attorney, said in a statement.

Courtesy Photo
James Rickleffs was arrested in the death of Diamond Heights resident Eriq Escalon (above).

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