The Merced County Sheriff’s Department has arrested a fourth man for the murder of two men found inside a charred car in an orchard outside of Denair.
Around 11 p.m. Thursday sheriff’s deputies booked Monico J. Pena, 40, of Livingston into the Merced County jail on allegations of murder, kidnapping and false imprisonment.
Pena, along with Salvador Silva, 23, of Atwater, Gerardo Alvarez Silva, 25, of Winton and Heliodoro Silva Arreola, 37, of Atwater, are suspected of murdering a man and his nephew.
The two victims were found Monday in a charred four-door sedan in an orchard off East Monte Vista Avenue, just east of Bledsoe Road and near the Merced and Stanislaus county lines.
The sheriff’s department believes the two victims in the case are an uncle and nephew who were reported missing Saturday by family members in Atwater. The men were identified as Reyes Garcia Barona, 29, of Atwater and Rodolfo Barona, 32 of Sacramento, though the sheriff’s department is awaiting pathology results for official identification.
Investigators found two crime scenes at the orchard. In addition to the remains, investigators found weapons and “a substantial amount of evidence” in the orchard just outside of Denair, said sheriff spokesman Sgt. Delray Shelton.
Investigators believe the two men were kidnapped, held against their will and eventually murdered over a drug debt.
Anyone with information regarding the case is encouraged to contact Detective Macias with the Merced County Sheriff’s Office Detectives Division at 385-7442 ext. 4992. All callers and information will remain anonymous.