RIVERBANK, Calif. (KTXL) — Stanislaus County deputies have arrested a homicide suspect after an investigation into a “suspicious” death near Riverbank.
Jose Valencia, 42, was arrested after deputies found him inside a home off Highway 108 with an unidentified victim who had been shot to death on Thursday.
Henry Mendoza moved back to Riverbank about a year ago to live a quiet life away from crime, so to hear someone was killed just on his block disturbed him.
“The most traffic we get up and down the street is people riding their horses,” Mendoza said. “To know that somebody was killed, murdered right there, is pretty strange.”
Deputies said some kind of altercation took place inside the home.
“We were dispatched to suspicious circumstances; we were receiving information secondhand from somebody down south,” said Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Sgt. Luke Schwartz. “During the course of our preliminary investigation, we located a victim with a gunshot wound.”
Despite the arrest, the cause of the shooting remains under investigation.
Investigators said an illegal marijuana grow was also found on the property but aren’t yet saying if that is linked to the homicide.
“We’re looking at that, and we don’t have an idea, a full idea or understanding of what the motive may have been,” Schwartz said.
Plastic tarps, an irrigation system and a torn-down fence kept the grow hidden from neighbors.
“We could smell it. We didn’t even know where it’s coming from,” Mendoza said. “So no, no I never knew.”
Animal Services returned to the home Friday to corral a number of farm animals they said were left behind by Valencia.
“It could happen anywhere but, yeah, that’s the sad part,” Mendoza said.
Deputies told FOX40 a separate investigation took place at the property in the past but aren’t saying if it’s related to the homicide investigation.