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Hunt for missing person leads to officers digging up Manteca yard

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Hunt for missing person leads to officers digging up Manteca yard

An area next to a Park Avenue garage in south central Manteca was the focus of coroner’s office deputies and Stockton police detectives digging over a four hour period Thursday. Neighbors said they...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED May 24, 2013 1:53 a.m.

Was there a person buried 23 years ago in the side yard of a Manteca home?

Law enforcement officers spent part of Thursday searching the back and side yard of a home at 420 Park Avenue in central Manteca. Neighbors said they saw evidence technicians removing what looked like a torso and placed it in a black bag before transferring it to what they believed to be a body bag.

Sheriff’s deputies and Stockton Police detectives spent some four hours searching for evidence around the vacant residence related to the missing person.  Deputies declined comment referring inquires to the  Stockton Police Department.

“What I saw today appeared to be a torso missing its extremities and weighing some 70 to 80 pounds and placed in a body bag,” said neighbor Rene Smith

Next door neighbor Lisa Foster said people were at the vacant house both Wednesday  and Thursday.   From her kitchen window she could observe digging just over her side fence.  She witnessed an evidence technician pull something out of the hole officers had dug and put it in a black bag before placing it in a blue body bag and zipping it up.

She said the object was about three feet long saying it was a “bit scary” seeing this in her neighborhood.  A white van driven by a woman with “evidence technician” printed on the back of her jump suit was backed into the driveway and up to the garage where the body bag was placed inside the cargo area.

Her husband Chris had also witnessed some of the activity when he came home for lunch with his wife.  Chris noted that the some four by six foot dig area behind the side of the garage had been covered with discarded materials that officers moved out into the driveway and actually took down a four foot wide piece of fencing to dig for the evidence.

There was also a large metal grate that had been placed over the dig site as well as a concrete foundation block, a rug and decorative wood lath.

Another neighbor Jake Whitt, who lives in a duplex across South Street, said he “saw a lot of cops” at the residence from about 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.  He noted that a couple of detectives went into the back yard with shovels.  He, too, had seen the black bag.

Foster said the investigators had swept up the area around where they had dug before they left the residence about 2 p.m.

Law enforcement officers had also been seen digging along McKinley Avenue just south of Lathrop Road earlier in the day.

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