John Charles Upton, filmmaker who rescued Romanian orphans, killed in Encinitas

John Upton, seen here in a screenshot from the ABC News' 20/20 program that looked at his work with Romanian orphans, was found dead outside his Encinitas home on Thursday, March 28, 2013.
John Upton, seen here in a screenshot from the ABC News' 20/20 program that looked at his work with Romanian orphans, was found dead outside his Encinitas home on Thursday, March 28, 2013. YouTube

A documentary filmmaker known for rescuing children from squalid Romanian orphanages in the early 1990s was fatally shot following a dispute at his Southern California home.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department on Friday identified the victim as 56-year-old John Charles Upton Jr. of Encinitas.

A sheriff's press release says 61-year-old Michael Vilkin was booked Thursday for investigation of murder.

The Los Angeles Times says the shooting might have resulted from a property dispute.

Upton was awarded an Emmy in 1990 for his film on teen promiscuity, the Times reports. 

After learning of the plight of Romanian orphans in 1990, Upton publicized the brutal conditions and was instrumental in bringing an estimated two dozen orphans to America for medical care and adoption.

Michael Upton tells U-T San Diego that his brother and neighbor Vilkin previously argued about trees.

ABC News' 20/20 program did a series on Upton's charity work in Romania. You can watch the first in the series here: 

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