Several hours into the investigation Monday of a 52-year-old man’s death, Modesto police detectives determined he was the victim of a homicide.
Robert “Bobby” Ross Jr. was last seen alive Saturday, said Modesto police spokeswoman Heather Graves. He was found dead inside his duplex on I Street near Third Street in west Modesto.
Neighbor and friend Melvin Cox said he’d known Ross since he was a young boy. Cox’s children grew up with Ross in Oakland.
Cox and his nephew, Karlton English, said Ross walked over to their home on Saturday to visit.
On Sunday, they noticed Ross’ front door was open but his metal security screen was closed.
“I saw his door open for two or three days, and that just didn’t seem right to me,” English said. He walked up to Ross’ porch on Monday. “The screen was locked so I couldn’t go in. … I could see his foot sticking out from behind the couch. I’m banging on the screen, screaming, ‘Bobby, Bobby, wake up!’ ”
Cox called 911 and got a key from the landlord to let in paramedics.
Ross recently suffered heart problems and had a stent put in last week after suffering his second heart attack, according to his sister, Diane Ross.
Graves said his medical history was one of the reasons police at first were investigating the death as natural. She said detectives later found signs of trauma on Ross’ body, but she wouldn’t say how he died.
“I can’t understand why anyone would want to hurt him,” Cox said. “He’s a friendly guy, friendly with everyone in the neighborhood. And he never said anything to me about thinking anyone would want to hurt him.”
Diane Ross said that in the Bay Area, her brother was known as Bobby “Baseball” Ross because he was an excellent baseball player who was drafted into the minor leagues when he was younger.
In addition to Diane, Bobby Ross is survived by his parents, another sister and three brothers. He also is survived by two sons, a daughter and two grandsons.
Graves said police have not identified any suspects or determined a motive for the killing.
Anyone with information regarding Ross’ death is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. Tipsters may also text information to Crime Stoppers at 274637. Just type “TIP704” along with your message.