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2 farm workers murdered
Crime scene just outside of Manteca city limits
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Sheriff deputies talk outside the trailer (background) where the two murder victims were found. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Two Hispanic farm workers are dead and Sheriff’s deputies are looking for the killer in an apparent double homicide at a farm in the 1300 block of Airport Way a half mile north of Lathrop Road.

As deputies were continuing their day-long investigation at the Riella Farm Tuesday afternoon, two upset friends of a man they said lived in the trailer where the bodies were found shot to death at about 7:30 a.m. were lingering at the crime scene.

They said his name was Carlos.  A Carlos is listed on the website of the Riella Farms Inc. – a firm that provides custom butchering of chickens, cattle and other livestock to the public, offering language translations to their customers in English, Spanish and Laotian Hmong.  Carlos was listed as the person who was able to converse in Spanish.

A Laotian family was living in a blue double-wide modular home at the front of the property.  She was unable to speak to reporters who questioned her in English only shaking her head when asked if she had heard anything.  The trailer where the bodies were found was less than 20 feet from their back door.

Sheriff’s public information officer David Konecny confirmed that the men were discovered in a large trailer parked some 20 feet behind the small front house adding they had both been shot.  The type of weapon used or where they had been fatally wounded was not disclosed by the officer.

Riella Farms owner Rick Riella was contacted by the Bulletin by phone Tuesday morning.  He said he was unable to give out any information as to who found the men or what he knew of the circumstances under order by Sheriff’s detectives who were also very tight-lipped at the scene.

Throughout the day several cars with farm customers drove up to the gate and its yellow crime tape being turned away by deputies.  Several said it was their first time to visit the farm to buy animals.

Newspapers were still in the driveway entry on Airport Way to the barns in the late afternoon having been delivered in the predawn hours.  They included the Wall Street Journal, The Manteca Bulletin, The Modesto Bee and The Record.

The San Joaquin County Coroner’s Office took possession of the bodies at about 1:30 p.m. as additional detectives drove into the farm.  A deputy was seen walking back to the trailer with large paper evidence collection bags shortly after the coroner’s van left the property.

The farm served also as a slaughterhouse in the past.  It is currently listed as a wholesale livestock dealer with the farm being a cattle operation with chickens, goats and cattle offered to the general public, according to its website.  The website also offers the sale of sheep, lamb, water buffalo, roosters, hens, ducks and guinea fowl as well as organic vegetables in season.

Television crews from network stations out of Sacramento, Stockton and a Spanish-speaking station were parked in front of the farm fence much of the day.