Wednesday, April 25 , 2018, 3:53 pm | Fair 61º


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Discovery of Decomposed Body Near Santa Maria Still a Mystery

A forensic examination has produced few clues as to the cause of death or the identity for a badly decomposed body found last weekend in Tepusquet Canyon east of Santa Maria.

"Due to the condition of the remains, the forensic pathologist was not able to immediately determine the cause and manner of death," said Lt. Craig Bonner of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

The pathologist was able to determine that the body was that of a male who had been dead for "a considerable period of time, from several months to several years, possibly more," Bonner said.

The remains were found at about 7:30 a.m. Sunday in the rural canyon, between Foxen Canyon Road and Highway 166, by a group of bicyclists. One of the cyclists went to a nearby ranch house and called 9-1-1. 

The sheriff's Coroner's Unit will be seeking the assistance of a forensic anthropologist in further evaluating the remains and trying to develop descriptive information to assist in determining the identity.

The dead man's DNA also will be entered in to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, Bonner said.

"These processes are extremely time consuming, and will likely take at least 6 months," he added.

Anyone with information potentially relevant to the investigation is encouraged to contact the sheriff’s tip line at 805.681.4171 or via the sheriff’s website,

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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