Crime

Burned body confirmed as missing Planada woman; baby boy found in Le Grand

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

The badly burned body found Thursday in an almond orchard northwest of Snelling has been identified by the Merced County Sheriff's Department as Ana Lila Diaz DeCeja.

Investigators used dental records to identify DeCeja, 26, who was reported missing last week from Planada along with her 2-month-old son, Anthony Ceja-Diaz.

DeCeja's body was found by farmworkers in the 3200 block of Keyes Road on Thursday afternoon. The cause of death hasn't been determined, and detectives are awaiting toxicology reports.

Meanwhile, an unidentified baby boy was found about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday in the 4000 block of Fresno Street in Le Grand. Although the baby is said to resemble Anthony Ceja-Diaz, his identity hasn't been confirmed.

The baby was found on the home's doorstep after a neighbor came out to get his car ready for work and heard a baby crying next door. The neighbor found the child wrapped in a blanket and wedged between the home's front door and security-screen door, according to Deputy Tom MacKenzie, Merced County Sheriff's Department spokesman.

The baby was admitted to Mercy Medical Center. MacKenzie said the child was treated for exposure to the cold and is recovering.

Detectives with the Sheriff's Department are in the process of identifying the infant, including checking the birth certificate footprints and performing DNA tests, which will be compared with DNA from the family of the missing infant. The testing is expected to take about a week to complete.

Sheriff's Department investigators had been looking for the mother and son since they were reported missing last week. DeCeja's car was found Monday in an area northwest of Snelling, about seven miles from the site where her body was found Thursday.

Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or creiter@mercedsun-star.com.

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