A tip regarding the welfare of a former Ceres man turned into a homicide investigation last week when Turlock Police officers found the man dead in a burned room of an abandoned building.
The deceased has been identified as 37-year-old Turlock resident Brian Vastine, who attended Ceres High School before moving to Calvary Temple Christian School in Modesto where he graduated in 2004.
The investigation led to the identity of a suspect who was arrested Tuesday, Dec. 13. The suspect was identified as Danny Stevens, 58.
On Dec. 12 the Turlock Police Department was asked to check on the welfare of a man in an abandoned building in the 1300 block of W. Linwood Avenue. The person making the request stated the man may have been assaulted. Officers arrived at around 12:13 p.m., and discovered a partially burned room with a deceased Vastine inside and detectives were called to the scene.
“After obtaining a search warrant for the location, detectives were able to take a closer look at the evidence and discovered the victim may have been assaulted,” said Turlock Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Parmley.
Detectives and investigators with the Stanislaus County Fire Investigation Unit spent hours working multiple leads and interviewing witnesses and were able to identify Stevens as a person of interest. He was taken into custody after making an attempt to evade police contact, Parmley said.
Stevens was interviewed and booked on homicide charges at the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center. On Friday, Stevens was released from custody without the Stanislaus County District attorney’s Office filing charges. The District Attorney’s Office stated the investigation is ongoing and awaiting the autopsy results.
Stevens is believed to have known the victim for only a short time, leaving the motive unclear. There is no indication that this was a random act of violence.
“Detectives are relentlessly working this investigation to determine why this senseless crime occurred. Please help by calling if you have any information about this crime,” said Turlock Police Capt. Steve Rodrigues.
The Turlock Police Department urges anyone with information about this investigation to call Detective Gina Giovacchini at (209) 668-6539; or contact the Turlock Police Department’s Tip Line at (209) 668-5550 extension 6780 or email at email@example.com.
The Turlock Police Department is an active participant in the Crime Stoppers Program. Callers can leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 and may be eligible for a cash reward.
A GoFundMe account has been set up by Vastine’s sister to cover funeral expenses. A total of $5,575 had been raised toward the $15,000 goal as of Tuesday. https://www.gofundme.com/f/brian-vastines-funeral-and-memorial