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Homicide, Highway Fatality Mar New Year's Start
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San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department detectives are investigating a possible homicide, with the body of a young man found in Farmington on Sunday morning, Jan. 6.

The sheriff's department was notified of a male body being discovered on South Van Allen Road just south of Highway 4 around 10 a.m. Sunday.

Farmington Fire Chief Conni Bailey called in the discovery, after receiving a call herself from a passing motorist who had noticed what appeared to be tennis shoes poking out of a ditch near the intersection of Highway 4 and Van Allen.

"We called out the sheriff's office and we didn't touch anything," Bailey said. "We didn't want to disturb the scene."

Crews were able to verify from a distance that the tennis shoes were in fact being worn by the victim and, with visible head trauma seen, the decision was made to wait for the arrival of the sheriff's department before venturing closer.

Classified by authorities only as 'John Doe,' the Hispanic male appeared to be in his early 20s.

"The body was just dumped," Bailey said.

Officials believe the man was killed elsewhere and his body left at the rural Farmington location.

"Sheriff's Homicide detectives responded and have taken over the investigation," said Sheriff's Department Spokesman Deputy Les Garcia. "The case is currently being investigated as a homicide and is ongoing. The cause of death is pending autopsy and toxicology results."

There appeared to be severe head trauma, Garcia added.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Homicide Unit at (209) 468-4425.

Van Allen Road was closed between Highway 4 and Oakwood Road for several hours Sunday while investigators combed the scene.

The suspected homicide was one of many cases that kept local authorities busy over the weekend, with Escalon Police also reporting a number of arrests.

An early morning pursuit that ended in a vehicle crash also resulted in the driver being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Police attempted to make a stop on a vehicle driving at a high rate of speed on Main Street just after 2 a.m. Sunday. The driver instead took off on Santa Fe out of town, then turned southbound on Harrold with police in pursuit, reaching speeds of 90 mph. After turning eastbound on River Road, the driver failed to stop at River and Santa Fe and went through that intersection at about 75 mph and then turned southbound on Henry once again. This time, though, he lost traction and spun around, with the rear of the vehicle striking a fence. As officers approached and attempted to make contact with the driver, he sped off, turning off Henry on to Santa Fe and accelerating to 90 mph once again. He then turned back on to River but failed to negotiate a curve in the 5200 block of River, where he struck a guardrail and some trees, with his 2001 Ford pick-up, finally coming to a stop.

Arrested was Lawrence DeRuiter II, 25, of Oakdale on suspicion of felony evading an officer, driving under the influence, hit and run and speeding. He had minor facial cuts as a result of the crash and was booked at San Joaquin County Jail. The pursuit lasted about 10 minutes, with DeRuiter taken into custody about 2:12 a.m. Sunday.

On Saturday, Jan. 5, police arrested a 39-year-old Manteca man on suspicion of driving under the influence after a stop for a violation at Highway 120 and Plaza. He was processed locally and released to a friend. The arrest occurred at about 2:15 a.m.

On Friday afternoon, Jan. 4, during the height of the winter storm, police arrested a 29-year-old man on suspicion of public intoxication and resisting arrest after receiving a complaint that two people were swimming - clad only in underwear - in the storm drainage basis in Sanchez Park at Valdapena and Sanchez. The call came in just before 4 p.m. and police said when they asked the man to get out of the water, he refused, resisting officers' attempts to remove him. A second man involved, a 26-year-old from Farmington, complied and was not arrested. The 29-year-old swimmer was booked at county jail.

And a New Year's Day arrest came just after 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 1, with a 28-year-old Ripon man pulled over for speeding in a 25 mph zone in the 2100 block of Coley Avenue. Further investigation led to his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence, unlicensed operation and no insurance. He was booked at county jail.

Just prior to the holiday - on Saturday, Dec. 29, a Livermore man was killed and a woman arrested in connection with an accident at Highway 120 west of Von Glahn Avenue. The crash occurred about 2:15 a.m. and, according to the California Highway Patrol out of Stockton, the driver, Alexandria W. DiFiglia, 22, of Livermore was westbound on Highway 120 at an undetermined speed when she lost control of the 1992 Honda and traveled across the eastbound lane and on to the shoulder of the road, striking a utility pole. Neither the driver or her passenger, 24-year-old Ian P. Male of Livermore, were wearing seatbelts and both were ejected from the vehicle. DiFiglia sustained major injuries; Male's injuries were fatal.

The CHP report indicated that alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash. Escalon Police responded to the scene, along with Escalon Fire Department, and Escalon officers secured the scene until the arrival of the CHP units