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Murder victim is Sierra High grad
22-year-olds body discovered in South Main St. dumpster
Kelly Darlene Marelich in one of her Facebook photos. - photo by Photo Contributed

The body of the young female discovered late Saturday night by dumpster divers behind a South Main Street retail complex has been identified as 22-year-old Kelly Darlene Marelich. 

Information about the cause of her death has yet to be released but the San Joaquin County Coroner’s Office completed the notification of her next-of-kin on Tuesday afternoon and released her identity shortly thereafter. 

Preliminary police reports stated that Marelich had been involved in an altercation – her body showed signs of physical violence – but signs of sexual assault were not evident. 

An autopsy was completed on Monday. The California Department of Justice was initially involved with the investigation to help determine the young woman’s identity.

According to a Facebook page matching Marelich’s name and birth date, she was a fan of the television shows It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Family Guy and she enjoyed writing poetry. Several entries were available for viewing – two of which were written as early as last month. 

Her last official Facebook entry was on March 9. According to the latest activity log, she activated Facebook Mobile on March 5, and had added new friends as recently as March 10. Her body was discovered on Saturday, March 15, in a dumpster behind the old Social Security offices on the 1000 block of South Main Street. Scavengers who had jumped in to find aluminum cans made the grisly discovery and notified police immediately. 

Responding officers believed her body had been placed there at around 10:30 p.m. after working through the night to gather information and evidence at the scene. A press release regarding the find – ruled almost immediately a homicide – was distributed by the Manteca Police Department on Monday. Detectives are currently looking at all possible angles and those that Marelich may have been close to in order to determine what may have led to her death. 

The dumpster, which was enclosed by a pair of chain-link fences with plastic slats to obscure what rests behind them, was positioned in an alley that runs from South Main Street all the way back to the end of the commercial center and around onto Mission Ridge Drive. One business owner said that illegal activity has been prevalent in that area, but didn’t elaborate on what kind.  

A Sierra High School graduate and former student of both Stanislaus State University in Turlock and Los Positas College in Livermore, Marelich has been identified by police as a Manteca resident. Her Facebook page identifies her as living in Fremont, but one Manteca woman said that Marelich lived three doors down from her – she used to babysit her – and that her younger sister and Marelich were great friends. 

She also worked for Fun & Games in Manteca up until about six months ago.

Marelich is the first homicide victim in Manteca in more than two years. Whether she was killed in Manteca will likely be determined in the investigation, but there were no killings in 2012 or 2013 – the closest being the father on Williamson Road who was gunned down by motorcyclists after a disagreement in front a nearby bar. The residence, and the bar, reside just outside of the city limits.  

 Anybody with any information pertaining to the case is encouraged to contact Detective Steve Schluer of the Manteca Police Department at 209.456.8210 or Crime Stoppers at 209.823.8210. Anybody reporting information that leads to an arrest may be eligible for a $1,000 reward, and can remain completely anonymous.