A woman who said she called police after her son discovered a body on their property said it had been badly burned.
“It was horrific. ... I saw the body laying there where it was burned,” said Donnis Sallee.
She said she arrived at the property on Blaker Road about 2:30 p.m. after her son called her about the grisly discovery.
“He said it looked like a body had been dumped down there and burnt, and we got down there and he was white as a ghost,” Sallee said.
She called 911. “I fell apart when the police started questioning me because anyone who would do something like that to a person is an animal.”
Stanislaus County sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Bejaran, the department’s spokesman, said Monday that the body had not been identified and its condition prevented detectives from even determining the person’s gender or approximate age. He would not elaborate or say whether the body was burned.
He would not release any new details Tuesday or comment on the use of the Ceres Fire Department’s arson dog, Chip.
Ceres fire Battalion Chief Mike Lillie said the Sheriff’s Department requested that Chip assist at the scene. The springer spaniel is trained to detect accelerants at fire scenes. Lillie would not say whether Chip detected anything at the scene.
There was an unrelated fire last month at a mobile home and barn behind an almond orchard on the property.
Sallee owns the mobile home, situated southwest of Central Valley High School and yards away from where her son discovered the body.
She said he’d been going there often since the fire to clean it up and ward off squatters.
He was there Sunday afternoon and evening and saw nothing. But about 2:30 p.m. Monday, he noticed the body next to a large pile of dead branches and other agricultural waste, Sallee said.
“There was a burnt refrigerator dolly right next to that,” she said.
On Tuesday, fresh dirt appeared to have been recently turned up in the middle of an area of scorched earth. Some tree limbs in the pile had been charred.
Jorge Limon, who lives next door, said he saw a small fire burning in that area Sunday evening. He said he didn’t think much of it at the time because there are often burn piles around almond orchards.
“I hope they catch the guy right away, or the people, because that is horrible. No person should be treated that way,” Sallee said.
Anyone with information about the death is asked to call homicide Detective Frank Soria at (209) 525-7080.
Leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Tipsters can email at www.modestopolice.com/CrimeStoppers or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing “Tip704” plus the message; tipsters are eligible for a cash reward.