The body was discovered near Hatfield State Recreation Park, where the Merced and San Joaquin Rivers meet. Sheriff's officials say a fisherman discovered the body around 6:30 Thursday night. Investigators believe the victim was tossed off of a bridge and into the Merced River.
Initially homicide detectives didn't know if the man, who has not been identified drowned or was involved in a traffic accident. But once the major crime unit pulled the man's body out of the water, they discovered he had a gunshot wound in the upper torso.
Deputy Ed Katen says some evidence was recovered in the area the victim's body was found.
"There was some articles of clothing that the detectives collected. They were back out here during the daylight hours and looked over the scene again," Ed Katen, from the Merced County Sheriff's Office said.
Investigators say it's unclear how long the body was in the water. The current is very slow right now and the water is cold. But, officials don't believe his body traveled far.
"We believe he came straight down into the water. And he was lying face down," Katen said.
Detectives also collected clues on the road above the bridge, where some physical evidence was left on the guard rail. Investigators say it appears the homicide happened somewhere else, and this was just a dump site.
Since the Stanislaus County line is just 100 yards west of were the body was found, law enforcement officers are checking with other neighboring counties to find out if there are any missing persons there or any other information that could help solve this murder.