The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department responded to a 6:20 p.m. call about a dead body in a ravine near the 12-mile marker of the canyon road west of Patterson, according to a release from Sgt. Anthony Bejaran of the sheriff’s department.
When the first deputy arrived where the body had been reported, he climbed about 300 feet down into the ravine before finding the body, according to Bejaran.
A of Tuesday afternoon, there were no witnesses or suspects nor many details regarding how the body ended up where it was found, Bejaran said.
Detectives have said the body was that of an adult male, but the man has not been identified. The body was removed from the ravine with help from the sheriff’s department’s Special Vehicle Operations Unit and the West Stanislaus County Fire Protection District.
An autopsy, performed Monday, Oct. 8, should provide a cause of death and may give investigators information about when the man died, but pathology test results were not available as of Wednesday morning, Oct. 10, Bejaran said. He said Tuesday he hoped more details would be available within the next couple of days, but he said he was not sure when whether or not that would be the case.
As of Wednesday morning, the sheriff’s department was only looking into the matter as a death — not as a homicide or even a suspicious death, Bejaran said. However, he indicated that was subject to change, depending upon the conclusions reached by the pathologist.
Sheriff’s deputies walked more than a mile along Del Puerto Canyon Road and along the canyon floor below on Tuesday, Oct. 9, using metal detectives as they scoured the area for any physical evidence they could find related to the case, Bejaran said.
The only suspicious items they found were a couple of black plastic bags about 20 feet down from the side of the road that contained marijuana remnants, such as stems, and some harvested marijuana, he said. The bags do not appear to be related to the investigation regarding the dead man, Bejaran said.
The discovery of the body Sunday comes after homicide detectives recovered the bodies of two men on Aug. 4 who had been bound and shot near the 10-mile marker. The coroner’s division has since identified those men as San Jose resident Esteban Carlos Martinez, 39, and 53-year-old Redwood City resident Pedro Garcia-Valencia. The sheriff’s department held off on releasing Garcia-Valencia’s identity for some time because it took awhile to get in touch with his next of kin in Mexico, Bejaran said.
As of Tuesday, there was no evidence connecting the latest death investigation and the double homicide investigation, he said.
Susan Conyers, a Del Puerto Canyon resident, said this week that many canyon residents have become unsettled by the recent findings of bodies in the area.
“We’re a small community,” she said. “It’s not normal to have bodies dumped on the side of the road. We need closure, just as the family needs closure.”
Several residents also have noted that there are illegal marijuana grows in Del Puerto Canyon, pondering whether they may be run by cartels.
Bejaran said the sheriff’s department has responded twice within the past year to marijuana grows in the canyon. The sheriff’s department tries to send patrol deputies into the canyon during the evening hours as often as possible, but they spend more time patrolling the areas around Patterson and Grayson, where they receive more calls for service, he said.
“I can understand the nervousness of residents,” Bejaran said. “It’s rural and dark, and is accessible from both Stanislaus and Santa Clara counties.”
Anyone who has information about this past weekend’s case can call Detective Jon McQueary at 525-7099. Anyone with information about the double homicide in August can call Detective Cory Brown at 567-4485.
Callers can also leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at 521-4636. Tipsters can also email tips at www.modestopolice.com/CrimeStoppers, or text them to 274637 by typing “Tip704” plus the message and be eligible for a cash reward.
Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187, ext. 26, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Irrigator reporter Nick Rappley contributed to this report.