The whereabouts of 16-year old Sammy Mercado had been one of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department’s biggest mysteries of 2012.
He vanished from marijuana near the corner of Willow and Annadale garden back in April after some people on the property confronted him at gunpoint.
Deputies caught a break two weeks ago when police in Utah captured a key suspect in the case, Ernie Chanmany, who happened to have more than 100 pounds of pot in his car.
A short time later, detectives got word that Mercado’s body may be in an orange grove between Fresno and Sanger, near Butler and Thompson Avenues. Saturday a spot was pinpointed and a discovery was made.
“Detectives started digging in orchards in that area and this morning at about 11:30 and they unearthed a body in a shallow grave that we believe to be Sammy Mercado. We believe that due to the description of the clothing Sammy was wearing at the time, however, DNA will have to be conducted to get a positive identification,” said Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims.
Sammy’s cousin stood in for teenager’s father at the Sheriff’s press conference.
“He’s at a loss for words right now and is still trying to digest the news that his son has been found. We were still holding on to hope that Sammy would still be alive. Unfortunately, this is a horrible story with a terrible sad ending, but at least there’s an end,” said Erica Mercado-Camarena, Sammy’s Cousin.
Chanmany is now in the Fresno County Jail. He is charged with being an accessory after the fact in this murder. The case remains open as Sheriff Mims believes there are two other suspects still out there, one of whom is the gunman.