Investigators: Remains of Sammy Mercado possibly found

FRESNO, Calif.

The remains were found by deputies in a shallow grave near Sanger around 11:30 Saturday morning after an extensive search, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said.

Mims said the remains are believed to be those of Mercado, though a positive identification has not yet been made.

The body was discovered after 21-year-old Ernie Chanmany was arrested in Utah on Oct. 6 during a drug enforcement operation. On Saturday Mims said Chanmany is an accessory to Mercado's murder. Someone else will have to be charged with his murder, according to Mims.

On Friday Mims told Action News the Sheriff's Office is looking for additional suspects in the case.

Mercado disappeared in April after a shooting at a pot grow near the intersection of Annadale and Willow Avenues. Investigators said Mercado and two friends were trying to steal marijuana from the field when the shooting took place. Mercado was the only one who did not make it safely out of the field.

Sammy Mercado's cousin says they spent the past six months hoping he would be found alive.

With tears in her eyes, Sammy Mercado's cousin thanked sheriff's officials for tracking down his remains and at least one suspect connected to his death.

"I just want to say, on behalf of the Mercado family, that we are very thankful and grateful for all the hard work on behalf of the Sheriff's Department," Sammy Mercado's cousin Erica Mercado-Camarena said. "For all the thoughts and prayers from the community, our family and friends."

For the past six months the Mercados waited for Sammy to come home.

They posted fliers with his picture and held prayer vigils.

Now they're adjusting to a new, more difficult reality.

"We just ask that you continue to pray for the family. My uncle, unfortunately, Sammy's father, Felipe Mercado, he's at a loss for words right now. He's still trying to digest the news that his son has been found," Erica Mercado-Camarena said. "It has a terrible, sad ending. But, at least there's an end."

There may be an end for the Mercados as to what happened to Sammy but the sheriff says her detectives are still hard at work.

They are trying to track down other suspects and of course find the person responsible for killing Sammy Mercado.

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