Local News

Aug 4, 2010 9:09 PM by Ariel Wesler

Body found on Nojoqui grade identified as missing man from LA

Santa Barbara County investigators have identified the body of a man found on the Nojoqui Grade last month as 48-year-old Bernardo Alvarez of Tarzana.

His body was found on July 15th while crews were putting out a small early morning brush fire.

Two days later, the Los Angeles Police Department got word a man was missing.

What started with a body on the side of Highway 101, six miles south of Buellton has turned into a large-scale investigation, stretching all the way to Los Angeles County.

"The DNA submitted from our found body and from the LAPD missing person's case are in fact from the same person," said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.

The man is 48-year-old Bernardo Alvarez from Tarzana. He worked in the San Fernando Valley as a waiter-- known as Bernie to his friends and even members of the LAPD.

"Never missed a day of work in the 10 years that he worked there and that was what prompted the report was his employer," said LAPD Detective Joel Price

A deformity on his left hand matched the physical description of the LAPD's missing person, prompting the DNA test.

"Alvarez was seen leaving a restaurant near where he lived on the night of the 14th," Price said.

Based on the timeline, LAPD investigators believe Alvarez's death occurred in LA County. His body was then brought here, to the Nojoqui grade, dumped, and set on fire.

A toxicology report revealed small amounts of drugs and alcohol in Alvarez's bloodstream, but the circumstances surrounding his death are still unclear. Now, investigators need your help.

"If you happen to be passing through there and saw a vehicle stopped on the side of the highway, that information is critical," Price said.

Detectives are treating the case as a homicide. Investigators say Alvarez knows some people in the Santa Barbara area. If you have information to help solve the case, you are asked to contact the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office or the Los Angeles Police Department.

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