Detectives began searching through an almond orchard Monday morning as a man's body lay on the ground, not far from Buchanan Hollow Road. Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin says farmworkers called 911 after making the disturbing discovery.
"We believe at this point in time, we had our forensic pathologist here, that whatever did occur happened sometime early this morning," Pazin said.
Authorities say it appears the victim died from gunshot wounds to the torso, but they are still piecing together where the murder happened.
"It's still a bit premature to speculate whether it was a body dump or if this person was shot and killed here," Pazin said.
This is the second homicide case in Merced County in the past four days. A fisherman found a man's body in the Merced River near Hatfield State Recreation area Thursday night. That victim was also shot in the torso. Investigators believe he was killed at a different location before someone tossed his body over a bridge.
"Now I don't want this to be connected it was we believe two independents event," Pazin said.
The major crimes unit is searching for answers, and suspects in both murders.
The identities of both homicide victims have not been released at this point. The man found today is described as being in his late 20s or early 30s. Investigators hope more information will be revealed during an autopsy.