MERCED -- Several men were ar- rested Tuesday in the death of a Livingston woman who was bound, gagged and burned alive.
Merced County sheriff's Detective Paul Barile shared few details about the arrests Tuesday, although he said the department is "pretty confident" that the men responsible for Rosa Alicia Avina's death are in custody. He said the department has been reluctant to disclose details of its investigation, fearing the suspects would flee the area.
A news conference is scheduled for 2 p.m. today.
"This is a horrific crime," Ba-rile said. "Things like this should not be happening in our community, and it's important to get people like this off the street."
Avina, 27, died Oct. 26 in the burn unit at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose. She was burned beyond recognition and suffered second- and third- degree burns over 95 percent of her body.
Sheriff Mark Pazin said the department's Major Crimes Unit searched five residences connected to the case -- three in Turlock, one in Delhi and another in Livingston. He said that investigators were working with an "associate" of Avina's who may be able to tell them where she was in the hours leading up to the crime.
Sometime during the early morning of Oct. 24, investigators said they believe several suspects used plastic zip-ties to bind Avina's hands and feet, placed a bag over her head and drove her to a remote location on South Avenue in the Ballico area.
The men then put Avina inside an abandoned boat near a burn pile, doused her with a flammable liquid and set her on fire, investigators said.
Hours later, Avina walked nearly a mile to South and Ballico avenues and collapsed on the front yard of a farm property. A group of farmworkers found her about 7:30 a.m.