IRVINE — The body of a San Bernardino County man was dumped on a dead-end road near the San Diego Freeway early Friday, less than an hour after an officer had finished a routine check of the area known for being "a host to strange activity," police said.
Jose Miguel Torres, 33, was found against a barbed wire fence about 12:45 a.m. Officer Pete Semelsberger, who was making his second pass through the area since midnight, at first thought the man was sleeping on his side, Sgt. Phil Povey said. Torres had been shot in the upper torso.
Torres, also known as George De La Torre, was last known to live in Big Bear, police said. Late Friday, police were trying to find relatives who could determine Torres' whereabouts before his death.
Police said Torres had been arrested for theft in San Bernardino County, Los Angeles and Chicago, Povey said.
Police "tend to find all kinds of things happening" on the short stretch of Sand Canyon Avenue that ends near the freeway's southbound off-ramp, Povey said. "It seems to be an attractive spot for people to get dumped, dead or not."
The bloodied corpse of another man was found two years ago in the same area, which is dark and surrounded by strawberry patches. Povey said patrol officers often find people sleeping or passed out on the edge of the road, or assault victims who have been dumped by their attackers.
The 75-yard-long section of roadway is also a favorite spot for truck drivers, who often stop there to do paperwork or take breaks, police said.
"It seems like a remote area when, in fact, it really isn't," Povey said. "Just a quarter-mile across the freeway is the [Irvine Medical Center]. It may be that it has such quick, easy access" to the San Diego Freeway.
Two years ago, a 24-year-old Santa Ana man was kidnapped and stabbed to death, and his body left at the site, Sgt. Bob Clark said. The victim, Gonzalo Ramirez, had been driving home earlier with a friend in Santa Ana when they were rear-ended, police said. An altercation between Ramirez and the other driver began, and the friend went to get help. When he returned, everyone was gone, but Ramirez's car was still there, Clark said.
Police have a suspect in that case, but no charges have been filed, he said.