Found early March, Burney Creek body yields many clues, no answers

BURNEY — Nearly two months after a man’s lifeless body was found inside Burney Creek, officials are still working diligently to learn the identity of the victim. Although a full determination of the man’s cause of death is still pending toxicology results, foul play is not suspected to be a factor in the unidentified man’s death, according to Shasta County Chief Deputy Coroner Lt. Randall.

Randall earlier today released additional details about the victim, in the hopes that the newly released information can help lead to the man’s identification; so officials can potentially bring closure to the victim’s family, as well as their ongoing investigation.


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Deputies assigned to Shasta County Sheriff’s Burney Patrol Station were first alerted to the gruesome discovery the evening of March 3. Witnesses at the scene later told SCNS the body appeared to have been in the water “for an extended time.”

Although responding officials confirmed a body was partially submerged within the swollen creek below the bridge, at the diversion dam on Park Ave., the man’s body could not immediately be recovered safely, without endangering the lives of fire and rescue personnel.

Shasta County Sheriff’s Lt. T. Thompson told SCNS at the time that “due to the position of the body, the high flow of Burney Creek, and the technical nature of the recovery,” deputies were not initially able to attempt to recover the victim from the water.

Deputies secured the scene and waited until the next morning, when members of the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Mountain Rescue Team – who are trained in swift water rescues – and Burney Fire personnel were able to recover the victim’s body.

Members of Shasta County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team recovered the body of a man from Burney Creek March 4, the morning after it was first discovered. SCSO photo

Since the victim’s recovery from the creek, coroner officials have been actively investigating the man’s death. In spite of their efforts they have not yet been able to identify the subject, who Randall described as an adult male – possibly Native American – with an estimated age range between 40 and 50-years old. At the time of his passing, the victim stood about 5-foot-5, and weighed about 180 pounds, with a medium build.

Additional potential identifying features include the fact that the victim had several distinctive tattoos, including the word “FISHY” on his right forearm, and the words “Native Pride” tattooed on his back, along with a dream-catcher. “Within the dream-catcher appears to be a figure that is half cattle skull and half female face,” according to Randall. 

Although the victim’s eye and hair color could not be determined “due to an advanced state of decomposition,” the victim did appear to have pins surgically implanted in both hips, the Lt. described.

SEE ORIGINAL STORY: UPDATE: Officials confirm body found in Burney Creek

Sheriff’s and Coroner’s officials are now hoping the newly released details will lead to the victim’s quick identification and have asked that anyone with information related to their ongoing investigation, or who recognizes any of the victim’s described physical features, to immediately contact Shasta County Coroner’s Office at (530) 225-5551. Callers can refer to Coroner’s Report number 2019-0158. Tips can also be provided to Shasta County Sheriff’s Lt. Thompson at (530) 245-6025. Callers can refer to incident file number 19S008277.

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Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.