Modesto police discovered a decomposing body near a Highway 99 offramp Saturday morning after neighbors called to complain about the smell.
“It’s been there for a little bit,” said police Sgt. Ivan Valencia. Because of decomposition, Valencia said it’s hard to tell when the person died, but he estimated the death occurred “maybe a week” ago.
“Based on decomposition,” he said, “we couldn’t tell the age or the race.”
Last week’s record heat – 93 on Tuesday, 95 Wednesday and 96 Thursday – accelerated decomposition and complicates the investigation.
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“We can’t tell if it is foul play,” Valencia said. “We’re going to depend on the coroner’s office to find cause of death and ID.”
Closer examination of the body might lead to an identifying tattoo, he said.
The body was found at 8:32 a.m. on the bank northwest of the Tuolumne Boulevard exit off Highway 99 in west Modesto. The body was in an open field on the bank, he said.
“There wasn’t much we could tell at the scene,” Valencia said.
An autopsy has been scheduled for Monday. Valencia speculated that the victim could very well be a homeless person, but it was hard to tell because of the damage done even to the clothes by body fluids. The area is frequented by homeless people, and bodies have been discovered within a half-mile of the area, he said.