Arrests made in the killing of a Merced County man and his dog


Merced County Sheriff's deputies announced the arrests of Frankie Hicks and Emilio Virgen Tuesday.

Deputies initially said the victim was shot -- but did not release other details because of the ongoing investigation.

Now that two suspects are in custody, they're revealing the man was also hit with a hatchet.

Deputies say a gruesome murder took place inside a rural Stevinson home.

Deputy Delray Shelton said, "Heinous is an understatement, the way that this incident transpired."

The major crimes unit went to the scene on February 26th -- after 37-year-old Casey Desalles was found dead. Authorities say he'd been shot multiple times and hit with a hatchet.

"Very inhumane and barbaric, the way he died," added Deputy Delray Shelton.

Desalles small dog was also shot to death. A woman who lives next door told ABC30 that day -- her friend called 911 after finding both bodies.

Detectives had been to the property in the past for marijuana grows and found more pot plants while investigating the murder. Evidence led them across the Stanislaus County line to the small community of Crows Landing. That's where they arrested 21-year-old Frankie Hicks and 18-year-old Emilio Virgen last Thursday. They say both men confessed to killing Desalles during a drug robbery.

"We can't elaborate on details," said Deputy Delray Shelton. "But we can release that it is a direct in regards to the marijuana trade."

Hicks is being held on a $2 million bail, and Virgen's bail is set at $1 million. They're both expected to appear in court Wednesday.

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