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Update: Stanislaus County Sgt. Tom Letras reports the victim was identified as a man and his death has been ruled a homicide.

MODESTO — The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department says Saturday afternoon a resident was digging in their backyard to bury a dead pet when they uncovered human remains.

When investigators arrived at Santa Rita Avenue near Yosemite Boulevard they confirmed the resident had uncovered a decomposing body. At this point, they believe the remains have been there for at least several months.

On Tuesday, Sgt. Tom Letras reported the victim’s death had been ruled a homicide.

“When we have a case like this we investigate it as though it’s a homicide until we figure out that it’s maybe something different,” Letras said. “So the first part of the process is removing the body. Once the body is removed, it’s taken to our coroner’s facility where an autopsy will be done.”

The autopsy determined the body found was that of a man. Now deputies can begin to see if he matches any missing persons reports.

They’re also asking for your help. If you have any information about the remains please call them or contact Crime Stoppers.