UPDATE: Third death in four days rocks east valley – Victim ID’d

UPDATED: Friday, July 24, 4:50 p.m., With coroner’s release of information.

COACHELLA, Calif. — Authorities are investigating a man’s “suspicious death” after his body was found in Thermal Wednesday morning, July 22. The victim’s body was found at Ave. 49 and Calle Abelia, according to officials now investigating the discovery.

Wednesday’s investigation involved the third suspicious death to rock the east valley over a four day period. Based on the ongoing investigations, both earlier suspicious death investigations have since been changed to homicide investigations.

The first investigation began after a man’s body was discovered in a burning vehicle in Thermal early Saturday morning, July 18. The second investigation began after a man’s lifeless body was found in the area of Fillmore St. and Ave. 78 in Thermal Tuesday morning, July 21.


Banning business destroyed by blaze

Hours-long Perris stand off leads to arrest

One dead, one arrested after San Jacinto shooting

DUI suspected in Perris crash that killed two, ages 8 & 75

Deputies from the Thermal Sheriff’s Station responded to the scene about 8:20 a.m., after receiving the report of a man down, Riverside Sheriff’s Sgt. Ben Ramirez has since reported.

When deputies arrived they located a deceased man and secured a crime scene, according to Ramirez.

Deputies work at the scene of a “suspicious death” investigation after a man’s body was found in Coachella Wednesday morning. KESQ News Channel 3 photo

Thermal Sheriff Station and Sheriff’s Central Homicide Unit investigators responded and assumed the investigation. They were assisted by forensic crime scene technicians, coroners, and other officials.

While deputies worked at the scene the entrance to the Rancho Las Flores community remained cordoned off with crime tape and Avenue 49 from Van Buren to Frederick was temporarily closed to through traffic.

Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner officials have since identified the victim as Leonard Garcia, 31, of Indio.

A Coroner’s release indicated that although Garcia’s body was discovered on the 22nd, the time and date of his death remain under investigation.


Officials investigating second Thermal murder in three days

Homicide confirmed – Victim remains unidentified, after body found in burning car

Officials have not yet said if any of the three deaths were possibly related.

“This is an active investigation and no additional details are available at this time,” said Ramirez.  

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is encouraged to immediately contact Thermal Station Investigator Hammond at (760) 863-8990 or Central Homicide Investigator Alfaro at (951) 955-2777. Callers can refer to incident file number Y20200014 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips Online Form.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.

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Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; 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 29 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 16 grandchildren.

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