The human remains unearthed from a grave on “Murder Mountain” are those of a 29-year-old San Diego man missing since April, the Humboldt County Coroner's Office says.
Sheriff's detectives found Garret Rodriguez's body buried on private land off Jewett Ranch Road in the Rancho Sequoia area on Dec. 1, one day after receiving a report of a possible grave site on the property.
Coroner Dave Parris said the “totality of the circumstances of the investigation” -- including the condition of the body, its location and other things -- led to the identification of Rodriguez's remains, but he declined to discuss those circumstances in detail.
”We have identified this man without a doubt,” Parris said, adding that he may ultimately have to seek a DNA comparison if the circumstances of Rodriguez's death ever wind up before a jury.
Parris said an autopsy performed on Sunday determined Rodriguez was the victim of a homicide and his office was able to determine a specific cause of death, which detectives are withholding at this time. Parris said that information could be “instrumental,” as it's currently likely only known to whoever may have killed Rodriguez.
Sheriff's Lt. Steve Knight said the FBI has stepped in to assist with the investigation.
Rodriguez reportedly traveled to Humboldt last December, having told his father he was going to work at a medical marijuana grow operation on “Murder Mountain,” as the Southern Humboldt subdivision of Rancho Sequoia near Alderpoint is sometimes known.
Worried after not having heard from his son in about six months, Rodriguez's father reported him missing on April 25. Rodriguez's family and friends have been very involved in an investigation into his whereabouts, even pooling funds to hire a private investigator, McKinleyville's Cook and Associates.
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On Nov. 30, Turner said the sheriff's office received a call from a resident who claimed to have received information that Rodriguez's body was buried in a small, open field on a rural property off Jewett Ranch Road.
”It's someone that we have been speaking with in regards to the investigation,” Turner said of the caller. “We are familiar with this person. He or she has been in contact with us for months and months about the investigation.”