What to do if you find a body
New details in the slaying of 50-year-old resident Jeff Bergeron reveal police believe his home was ransacked by three defendants who ended a day-long crime spree at the residence in north Merced, according to reports obtained by the Sun-Star.
Christopher Olvera, 24, of Modesto, was arraigned Wednesday on murder, robbery, burglary and street terrorism charges with gang enhancements in connection with Bergeron’s death. He pleaded not guilty.
Co-defendants Felipe Heredia, a 24-year-old Merced man, and 26-year-old Louie Gonzales, pleaded not guilty to the charges on April 16. Olvera’s arraignment took longer due to defense attorneys declaring potential conflicts of interest in representing him.
Merced police arrived at Bergeron’s home in the 4300 block of Bixby Way at about 6:15 p.m. Jan. 25, to conduct a welfare check after a witness said Bergeron didn’t come to work, according to investigation reports.
Police noticed the front door was “kicked in” and glass was strewn around the entrance. Officers smelled bleach and noticed carpet discoloration similar to bleach stains and a spray bottle of an unknown cleaning solution. They also noticed several items out of place or missing, reports state, including TV equipment that was pulled away from a wall, according to the reports.
Investigators found Bergeron’s body in one of the upstairs bedrooms. He suffered injuries to his head, according to the reports.
Detectives spoke with several witnesses and gathered evidence from the home, reports state. They also noticed that Bergeron’s pickup truck, a gray 2017 Chevrolet Silverado, was missing from the home.
The next day, using GPS location, the truck was found outside a seemingly vacant home in the area of Seneca Street and Gary Avenue and taken as evidence, according to the reports.
Evidence from the vehicle connected Olvera to the homicide, Sgt. Rey Alvarez said, while evidence from the home linked the scene to Heredia and Gonzales.
“Finding the truck was one of the big pieces of the puzzle,” Alvarez said, adding that witness information also helped.
The three suspects allegedly went on a crime spree throughout Merced earlier the same day Bergeron was killed, Alvarez said.
The suspects reportedly assaulted someone in the area of Main Street and V Street, committed a robbery before moving into another downtown area and assaulting another individual. During the alleged crime spree, the suspects reportedly moved north, robbing another victim of a bicycle before heading to Bergeron’s home, police said.
The exact motive for the slaying wasn’t clear, Alvarez said.
Olvera, Heredia and Gonsales’ next court date is scheduled for May 8, according to court records.