Suspicious death in Northwest Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

Investigators are labeling the man's death as "suspicious" and they credit local neighborhood watch groups, who called police after hearing strange noises coming from the abandoned home.

The normally quiet neighborhood was crawling with police officers, and helicopters circled the community through Wednesday morning.

Phylis Bence is part of the neighborhood watch group. She and others followed their phone tree; called everyone on the block after watching a truck pull up to the home on the corner. After they heard the strange noises, they each called police.

It wasn't until officers went into the backyard that they discovered the man's body. Lieutenant Mark Salazer says it was "wrapped in material" and that his officers barely missed the person who drove the truck to the home. He said, "They saw the subject leave, there's been prior vandalism at that house, they were concerned".

Neighbors say the vandalism has been a recurring since the house went vacant about two years ago.

Bence said, "Plants being taken, fixtures inside the house, different damage done on the inside".

The house is in escrow, and the potential buyers have learned about the discovery in the backyard. Neighbors like Bence hope the mystery in the backyard doesn't prevent people from moving in.

Bence said, "It's a good neighborhood, don't be afraid to come here, you'll see people walking, people are friendly, people who care about each other".

Investigators do not yet know how the man died, but say there is some evidence of trauma.

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