Crime

Autopsy on Snelling homicide victim yields no new details

SUBMITTED PHOTO 
Ana Diaz DeCeja and her baby Anthony Ceja are missing.
SUBMITTED PHOTO Ana Diaz DeCeja and her baby Anthony Ceja are missing. Merced Sun-Star

An autopsy conducted Monday yielded no new details about a burned body found in an orchard northwest of Snelling last week.

The body was too badly burned to determine a cause of death or even its gender, said Deputy Tom MacKenzie, Merced County Sheriff's Department spokesman. A pathologist is expected to examine the victim's teeth this week to help determine identity.

Farmworkers found the smoldering remains Thursday afternoon in the 3200 block of Keyes Road.

In a separate case, detectives announced Monday they have located an SUV belonging to a missing Planada woman. Ana Lila Diaz DeCeja, 26, and her 2-month-old son, Anthony Ceja-Diaz, disappeared Thursday from her home in the 1500 block of Plainsburg Road.

DeCeja had told family members she was going to a health clinic, but she never returned home. DeCeja's husband reported her missing that night. Neighbors said they saw DeCeja getting into her blue 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche.

The vehicle was found abandoned in a rural area Friday at Monte Vista Avenue and Bledsoe Road, deputies said.

The Avalanche was found about seven miles away from where the burned body was located. Detectives said it's unknown whether the two cases are related.

Sheriff's detectives are asking anyone with information to call the Major Crimes Unit at (209) 385-7472. Calls are kept confidential, and you can remain anonymous.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

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