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Police investigating motel slaying
Ceres police are investigating Friday morning's homicide at the Howard Johnson Inn on Herndon Avenue.

Lt. Brent Smith verified that there are persons of interest in the case and that at least one location has been searched for evidence. Nobody had been arrested as of Monday.

A guest in Room 132 in the center courtyard building of the inn walked out of the door of her motel room and saw the body of a young Hispanic man, clad only in boxer shorts, dead from a gunshot wound. The man, judged to be between 20 and 30 years of age, was lying on the sidewalk and leaning on the pillar in front of Room 133. A small pool of blood was around the body. She contacted management who called police at 7:13 a.m.

Deputy Chief Police Mike Borges said today that the victim's identity has not been verified. An identification was made after police secured a search warrant to enter a motel room to search for clues.

"We have not verified the identity or the immigration status of the victim," said Borges. "We are trying to locate his family in Mexico to confirm his identity. As for any suspects in this case we have interviewed several persons of interest, but as of yet we have no one in custody for this homicide or identified as a suspect in the case. Our investigators continue to follow up leads on this matter and we are working with our local corner's office to positively identify the victim."

Sgt. Chris Perry said none of the guests reported hearing any gunfire.

"From what I'm getting these rooms are so tight they can't even hear the freeway noise from inside the rooms," commented Sgt. Perry at the scene.

The rooms involved face Highway 99 a short distance away.

Perry said the man was shot in the mid back and the bullet exited the front of his torso. It appeared that he was shot only once.

About eight guests at the motel were interrogated and released by 10 a.m., said Perry, but their contact information and license numbers were taken down for future contact if necessary.

Smith would not speculate on a motive. Investigators, led by Detective James Robbins, were trying to determine if the victim was linked to any of the vehicles in the parking lot. The body was discovered in front of two parked pickups, a gray Dodge Ram 1500 and a red Chevy Colorado.