Marsh family file suit in botched ID case
July 27, 2014
The family of a Nevada County man whose body was found in Riverside County in 2009 but not identified until 2013 have filed a lawsuit against law enforcement there.
Last week, several members of Isaiah Marsh's family filed a civil action against Riverside County, said their attorney, Bradley Mancuso.
"The family is seeking economic and emotional distress damages due to the Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner's negligent failure to notify the family of (Isaiah's) death for over four years," Mancuso said.
Marsh's disappearance in April 2009 shocked his friends and family, who pursued an aggressive campaign to search for him, holding vigils and setting up a fund to offer a reward for information about his disappearance.
“The family had been under the assumption that he might be alive, so they were doing what they could to keep his finances in order. It’s really sad, what this has done to the family.”
Marsh family attorney
Marsh's last cell phone transmission put the device in the Bullards Bar Reservoir area near North San Juan.
His Ford F350 truck was found in May 2009 in Riverside County; at that time, Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal described the case as a likely homicide.
Palm Desert Police officers found Marsh's body on June 12, 2009, after responding to a call in Desert Hot Springs.
At the time the remains were located, investigators were unable to make a positive identification due to the condition of the body, according to a 2013 press release from the Riverside County Sheriff's Office. No personal property or identification was located.
Marsh's body was found in a remote desert area and reportedly had been set on fire.
Although the remains were burned, the release stated that no clear-cut cause of death was established.
It was estimated that he had been dead five to 10 days prior to being found, and it was not known if his death occurred where he was found.
Last year, investigators declined to comment on why Marsh's body was found in June 2009 but not identified until four years later, even though DNA was collected and submitted to the state Department of Justice.
That four-year lapse is at the center of the suit filed by Marsh's family, which charges that Riverside County did not exercise reasonable diligence in locating them and notifying them of his death.
"Over four years went by without the Marsh family receiving any word," the suit reads. "They were unable to protect his property without legal standing."
According to the suit, Marsh's property subsequently was lost to foreclosure.
According to the lawsuit, Marsh's brother, Narayan, was forced to create a conservatorship to manage his affairs, which cost more than $100,000.
"The family had been under the assumption that he might be alive, so they were doing what they could to keep his finances in order," Mancuso said, "It's really sad, what this has done to the family."
When the family was notified his body was found last year, Mancuso said, what healing they have been able to achieve was "completely undone."
According to the complaint, the Marsh family previously filed a government tort claim with Riverside County, which has been rejected.
Mancuso said the lawsuit was filed last week and Riverside County has not yet been served.
"I don't know what their defense might be," he said. "This was a very easy case to figure out, especially when you have a lot of evidence around it — the truck and the body were found weeks apart.
"The Sheriff's Office said they finally figured it out through the DNA test, but why did it take four years?" Mancuso said.
According to Mancuso, Marsh's death is still being investigated as a homicide, but the family has not been given much information.
Members of Marsh's family could not be reached for comment.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.