MCSO: Body parts found near Tonopah canal in West Valley

TONOPAH, AZ - The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is investigating a suspicious death after body parts were found Monday morning near a West Valley canal.

MCSO spokesperson Christopher Hegstrom said at least two legs and a torso were found spread out over a mile near 387th and Orangewood avenues.

Air15 video over the scene around 10:30 a.m. showed search crews stationed in the area, and a human leg inside the canal.

Workers say that a boot discovered in the canal has been in the water for quite some time.

"Unbelievable because I saw it for two months, I never thought it was going to be a bone inside the boot and I've worked here for 21 to 25 years, so I never thought it would be a bone from a body," said Juan Rodriguez, a worker who watched over the irrigation canal.

Rodriguez told ABC15, it wasn't until Monday they saw the leg bone.

"The boot was moved or somebody moved it, so now I could tell there was a bone inside," said Rodriguez.

A dairy farmer near the fields reported the discovery to MCSO.

Hegstrom told ABC15 the body parts are severely decomposed, and it is unclear if the body separated during decomposition or was separated prior.

By early afternoon deputies had collected enough bones to form an entire body. They say the body parts appear to all be from the same person.

Authorities will also try to determine the cause of death.

"If this is an exposure death, somebody who died of something like dehydration, you're not going to see that on the skeleton," said Annalisa Alvrus, Ph.D., a forensic anthropology professor at Mesa Community College. Alvrus told ABC15 that if it is a homicide, the cause of death may be more apparent, for example, a gunshot wound.

Detectives are now combing through missing person's reports hoping to find a match.

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