Imperial County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Crime Scene Investigations unit personnel respond to a field near Bowker Road and Ross Avenue between El Centro and Holtville, where the remains of a Calexico man were found on Tuesday morning, June 22. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. PHOTO
The remains of a Calexico man who appears to have died under suspicious circumstances was discovered by a field worker near Bowker Road and Ross Avenue in an area midway between El Centro and Holtville on Tuesday morning, June 22.
The body had already started to become discolored and unidentifiable when it was found off the roadway around 10:30 a.m. by an individual who was working in the area to irrigate or apply fertilizer to a farm field, according to Imperial County Chief Deputy Sheriff Robert Benavidez.
Next of kin had been found and notified of the death, and the man was identified as 53-year-old Julian Sotelo, Benavidez stated in a text message after 9 p.m. June 22.
Although Benavidez said it was difficult to tell how long the body had been there due to the effects of the Valley’s heat on tissue, there did not appear to be any immediate “trauma, no stab wounds to indicate other means of death,” he said.
In such instances, this case is being handled as a possible homicide, he indicated, and that much could be heard over radio scanner traffic during the incident when coroner investigators stated they were tied up on a “possible 187,” the penal code for homicide.
The body was found fully clothed in jeans, t-shirt and shoes, Benavidez said, near a tree off the roadway, not immediately visible from passing vehicles.
County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the scene initially and declared the man deceased. Sheriff’s Office investigators, Scientific Investigations Unit technicians and coroner’s division personnel subsequently arrived to process the scene, ICSO stated in a brief press release sent out Tuesday afternoon.
The man’s body was removed from the scene by coroner’s division personnel about 12:30 p.m. Prior to that the Sheriff’s Office had deployed a drone in the area to assist with its investigation.
The Holtville Fire Department had also arrived at the scene in response to the initial 911 call about a possible dead body but was restricted by ICSO personnel from getting within 40 feet of the location of the man’s body, as is standard procedure in similar death investigations, Holtville Fire Chief Alex Silva said.
Due to the incident being an ongoing investigation, no additional information was released by the Sheriff’s Office.
Camilo Garcia Jr. contributed information to this report.