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Pathologists disagree about cause of woman's death
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Two pathologists differ on the cause of death of a Ceres woman who was found in her mobilehome unit with three-quarters of her face missing.

Police are treating the death of Leslie Hodge, 55, as suspicious. She was last seen on Feb. 7 at Voyager's Cove Mobilehome Park. Her body was found Sunday, Feb. 12 by a neighbor.

One theory police are working with is that Hodge passed away on the floor where her two small dogs removed flesh. Police found a large amount of dog and rat feces inside the home. The unit showed no signs of forcible entry.

"There was no physical evidence of an attack," said Sgt. Jose Berber. "But the detectives were being cautious."

One pathologist who conducted a Feb. 14 autopsy believed the woman died from an instrument to the face. That opinion sent detectives scurrying back into the neighborhood to seek more clues and interview more residents. The next day later another examiner decided the animals caused the injuries.

Investigators did find other items in the home, such as numerous bottles of prescription medication, which indicated that the death was not a homicide.

Results of a toxicology report will give police information about what the woman ingested before she died. The results will take weeks.

Berber said it's rare that officers go to calls of deceased persons and find a face missing. But there have been numerous documented cases of people dying alone at home and whose bodies were chewed on by pets contained in the house with nobody to care and feed them.

Ceres police ask anyone with information to contact Detective Derek Perry at (209) 538-5730 or Stanislaus Area Crime Stoppers at (866) 602-7463.