A man found dead last week on the side of a rural road in Merced County has been identified, the Merced County Sheriff's Office reported Friday.
The body of 34-year-old Israel Gutierrez of Modesto was found April 4 in the area of Highway 165 and Williams Avenue in Hilmar, sheriff's deputies said in a brief statement.
Gutierrez's identity was confirmed Friday by the Merced County Coroner's Office.
Investigators have released few details regarding the case, but have confirmed Gutierrez's death was a homicide under investigation by sheriff's detectives.
Deputy Daryl Allen on Friday said he couldn't comment on the cause of death or say anything about the circumstances surrounding the slaying, including whether detectives have developed any potential suspects in the case.
Investigators said an autopsy would be needed to determine the cause of death. The results of the autopsy have not been released.
Allen said deputies couldn't say whether a motive has been determined. He said withholding those details was necessary to protect the investigation.
According to a GoFundMe page set up to help raise money for the victim’s family, Gutierrez is survived by a wife and five children.
"Izzy was an extraordinary person who always put his family first," one person wrote on the page.
Gutierrez's death marks the sixth homicide of the year in Merced County and the first of the year in Hilmar. The communities of Merced, Los Banos, Atwater and Planada each have reported one homicide case this year, according to county records.
Two people were killed during the same attack Feb. 1 outside a popular taco truck in Planada.
Merced County reported 20 homicides last year, nine in 2016 and 30 or more in 2015, 2014, and 2013.
Anyone with information regarding the slaying of Gutierrez is asked to contact Detective Victoria Bonilla at 209-564-0407. Tips are confidential and callers may remain anonymous.