A DNA analysis has confirmed the identity of a man found dead with another man in the trunk of a burned vehicle left in a Denair orchard in October 2014.
The Merced County Sheriff’s Department stated the test confirmed the man was Reyes Garcia Barona, 29, of Atwater. The sheriff’s department had previously stated the two victims were likely Reyes Barona and his uncle Rodolfo Barona, 32 of Sacramento, though given the conditions of the bodies, the department had to verify the identities through DNA testing. The test for Rodolfo Barona is pending.
The two men were found inside the trunk of a charred four-door sedan found Oct. 21, 2014 in an orchard off East Monte Vista Avenue, just east of Bledsoe Road and near the Merced and Stanislaus county lines.
Investigators believe the two men were kidnapped, held against their will and eventually murdered over a drug debt.
Detectives believe the two men were kidnapped and eventually murdered by Salvador Silva, 23, of Atwater, Gerardo Alvarez Silva, 25, of Winton, Heliodoro Silva Arreola, 37, of Atwater and Monico J. Pena, 40, of Livingston.
All the suspects are being held in the Merced County Jail without bail awaiting trial on murder, kidnapping and false imprisonment charges.