Police / Fire

Dead body found in Panoche Valley

Hispanic male believed to be in his mid-20s was found with multiple gunshots. Officials had no immediate leads on a suspect.

The body of a Hispanic male in his mid-20s was found with multiple gunshots on Thursday afternoon along the side of a rural, two-lane road in the Panoche Valley, a San Benito County Sheriff's captain told BenitoLink. The deceased man's body was found by a utility subcontractor driving along the 6800 block of Panoche Road, where the body was located "just off the shoulder, about 10 feet off the road in plain view in a turnout," Sheriff's Capt. Eric Taylor said.

The call came in around 1 p.m. Thursday, and sheriff's deputies responded along with the California Highway Patrol, CalFire and county fire crews.

Taylor said the deceased man appears to have been shot "multiple times" and "it does not appear that he was killed where he was located. It would seem he was killed somewhere else and placed there."

The deceased man had not been identified as of early Thursday evening and Taylor said law enforcement officials had "no suspect information." The area where the body was found "is just open space," Taylor said, noting that there are some corrals and open structures — and no residences.

The next steps in the investigation, Taylor said, would be to identify the victim by reaching out to other agencies "to see if they have any other information and coordinate with other agencies to see if they have anything suspicious that would match up with this person." Also, an autopsy will occur to help determine the cause of death. 

The Sheriff's Department contracts with Santa Clara County medical examiner, and Taylor said the autopsy could be done as early as Friday or in "the next few days."

Anybody with information as to the identity of this male, or information about the homicide, is urged to call San Benito County Sheriff’s detectives at 636-4080.

Adam Breen

Adam Breen has been a San Benito County resident since 1980 and graduated from Sacred Heart School and San Benito High School before earning a bachelor's degree from California State University, Fresno. A father of two sons, Adam has taught newspaper, English and yearbook at SBHS for the past decade, after six years as a magazine editor for Santa Clara University. He previously was editor of the Hollister Free Lance and content director for BenitoLink.