Merced County Sheriff’s detectives have found a firearm in the Delta Mendota Canal in Stanislaus County believed to have been used to kill a man in Stevinson in February.
Deputy Delray Shelton, a sheriff’s spokesman, said the Sheriff’s Department’s Dive Rescue and Recovery Team located a “long gun” in the canal late last week. Shelton declined to elaborate on the type of firearm recovered.
Detectives believe the weapon may have been used to kill 37-year-old Casey DeSalles on Feb. 24 in his home in the 19000 block of Sixth Avenue in Stevinson.
“We believe it is the firearm used; however, it will be sent to the lab for comparison,” Shelton said.
DeSalles was shot at least once and found with a hatchet in his head, detectives have said previously.
Shelton confirmed deputies also found “other evidence” in the canal along with the gun but declined to discuss specifics, including whether the hatchet was recovered, saying revealing information could hurt the investigation.
Two suspects were arrested March 28 and charged with murder in connection with DeSalles’ death.
Frankie Lon Hicks, 21, and Emilio Virgen, 18, both of Crows Landing, appeared in court April 4, but their arraignment was postponed until May 2, according to Merced Superior Court records.
Authorities have said both defendants have admitted their involvement in DeSalles’ death.
Both defendants remained in custody at the Merced County Jail. Hicks’ bail is set at $2 million and Virgen’s at $1 million, officials confirmed.
Detectives Erick Macias and Mike Ruiz first identified both men as suspects in the case and developed the information leading to the recovery of the weapon, Shelton said.
Deputies have said DeSalles’ death was likely drug-related. His home was known for marijuana cultivation and deputies found numerous marijuana plants inside the home the day his body was discovered, detectives said.