Detectives believe a body found two months ago in the Stanislaus National Forest is that of a Turlock man missing since April 2012. They have termed Korey Kauffman’s death “suspicious” and are appealing for help from the public to determine what happened to him.
Two hunters found the remains Aug. 19 and alerted authorities, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday. Law enforcement returned to the area and found the remains of an adult male.
An autopsy determined the body to be that of a white male in his early to mid-20s. The Sheriff’s Department said evidence at the scene has led detectives to believe the body is that of Kauffman, who was 26 when he disappeared. Sgt. Keith Rakoncza, a sheriff’s spokesman, could not elaborate on what that evidence was.
Amber Morris, Kauffman’s sister, said detectives had notified her family of the discovery earlier and asked them not to say anything during the investigation.
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Kauffman, who made his living recycling scrap metal, had not been seen or heard from since March 29, 2012. Family members and officials said they believed he had met with foul play.
“We were worried he wouldn’t be found,” Morris said Tuesday.
Last year, Detective Cory Brown said Kauffman left a friend’s house on Lander Avenue in Turlock to walk several blocks to a home on Ninth Street to pursue something that “piqued his interest.” The day before, March 28, Kauffman had an argument over money with a man who threatened to “cut him from ear to ear,” Brown said. Investigators interviewed the man and ruled him out as a suspect, but they believe theft could have been a factor in what happened to Kauffman.
Though family members suspected the worst – “He wouldn’t have just not contacted anyone” – Morris said they were hit hard by the news his body had been recovered. “Now we’re just waiting for the body to be released so we can plan a service.”
“My brother wasn’t perfect; he got into trouble and made mistakes, but he didn’t deserve this...no one does,” Morris told The Bee in an email Tuesday. “He had a huge heart and a lot of people who loved him. Our younger brother and I always knew that if we needed him, he would be there for us. He had hopes and dreams of being a husband and a father, and because of the monsters who did this, he won’t get that chance and I won’t get to meet those children he always wanted.”
Investigators ask anyone with information on the case to contact Brown at (209) 567-4485. Anonymous tips can be left by calling Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636.