Nevada County authorities haven’t yet ID’d burned body |

Nevada County authorities haven’t yet ID’d burned body

Officers put up police tape before beginning their investigation of a dead body found off of Old Tunnel Road.
Elias Funez/

A Monday autopsy is scheduled for a man found badly burned this week in a vegetation fire off Old Tunnel Road, authorities said.

Police haven’t yet identified the man, though they did find a wallet with a driver’s license on him. However, no positive identification was made because of the body’s condition, sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Jakobs said.

“The decedent’s body was badly burned and was unrecognizable,” he added.

The Sheriff’s Office will try to identify the man through fingerprints, then dental records, if available. If neither option works authorities will try DNA, Chief Deputy Coroner Mike Sullivan said.

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An identification could happen next week through fingerprint or dental records. DNA would take two to three months, he added.

Sheriff’s officials are investigating the cause and manner of death. Grass Valley police are examining whether a crime occurred.

“We’re not sure,” Lt. Joe Matteoni said. “We’re going to treat it as a suspicious death until we know otherwise.”

Police and fire detectives are working together on the case. In an accidental death, the fire marshal would perform an investigation, Matteoni said.

An officer around 6:45 p.m. Thursday noticed the fire in the 12000 block of Old Tunnel Road, about 50 yards from the street. It appeared to be a spot where homeless people were squatting, Matteoni said.

The officer then saw the burned body, the lieutenant added.

Anyone with information about the death should contact Grass Valley police at 530-477-4600 and ask for the investigation division.

“We don’t even know if we have a crime yet,” Matteoni said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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