Body discovered in Gustine yard

GUSTINE -- The body of a 32-year-old man was found in the side yard of a residence Sunday morning on the 700 block of South Avenue.

The man's identity won't be released until his next of kin is notified and the autopsy is complete, said Sgt. Jim Hamera of the Gustine Police Department. The situation is being treated as a criminal investigation, he said.

Minor injuries were visible on the body, making the circumstances seem suspicious, said Chief Doug Dunford.

Gustine police and medical personnel were dispatched to the area about 9 a.m. after a report of an injured person, Hamera said. It was initially reported as a medical call.

Hamera declined to comment about the case further until the investigation is complete.

The Newman Police Department and Merced County Sheriff's Department assisted with the investigation, which is ongoing, Hamera said.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Gustine Police Department at (209) 854-3737. All information can remain anonymous.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsun-star.com.