Passerby finds elderly man dead in Merced County

MERCED COUNTY, Calif.

Neighbors too afraid to appear on camera tell Action News they're frightened by the discovery of a body, so close to home.

The Merced County Sheriff's Office spent Saturday searching the area for evidence after a passerby found the body of Thomas Higgins just before five o'clock on Saturday morning. He was found on a bridge over a river on Kibby Road near Bear Creek Drive. Investigators are treating the death as a homicide.

Sheriff Mark Pazin said, "There was a pool of blood on the ground area where this person was and he did sustain some upper body trauma."

Sheriff Pazin says the 65-year-old was based in the Bay Area but still has a home and strong ties to Merced. He was in the North Valley - visiting family.

Sheriff Pazin says he was wearing tennis shoes when found. "It appears he had been walking, we are doing a search to see if there was maybe an abandoned vehicle."

Throughout Saturday divers spent the day looking for evidence in the nearby water. Detectives believe Higgin's body was only in the area for short time before being discovered.

Sheriff Pazin said, "That is a fairly well traveled road because it has a north south connector to Yosemite Avenue, to Bear Creek to Highway 140."

But despite living close to the busy road, neighbors tell Action News they're now scared.

An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

At this point, deputies do not have anyone in custody but if you have any information in the case - you are asked to call the Merced County Sheriff's Office.

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