Man identified in murder-suicide; woman unknown
The Truckee man found dead Dec. 19 inside his SUV was identified by police as Stanley Everett Merchant, 48.
Investigators have not yet released the identity of the woman found shot to death next to Merchant, said the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department.
Merchant’s brother in Anchorage, Alaska was notified of Merchant’s death by investigators on Dec. 21.
An autopsy of the woman completed Dec. 21 by a Placer County pathologist determined the woman’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head, Nevada County Sheriff’s Lt. Ron Smith said.
Investigators ruled the deaths as a murder-suicide, but “at this point, nothing to indicate why” the man and woman were found dead in the SUV parked in the woods off Hobart Mills Road on Old Highway 89, Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal said.
Evidence indicates the woman was shot by the man outside of the vehicle, then was placed inside the SUV. The man apparently drove about 100 yards, and then he lay down next to the female and killed himself, Royal said.
Smith said investigators found bruising on her arm and her wristwatch was broken, which could indicate there was a struggle before she was shot.
Both bodies had gunshot wounds to the head, he said, with two 12-gauge shotguns discovered inside the vehicle next to the man.
The relationship between the man and the woman is “unclear” at this time, Royal said. He said he could not say where the woman was from.
Toxicology testing, available in about one month, will be completed to identify any substances that might have been in their systems, he said.
Investigators found a small amount of marijuana residue in a tin breath mint container in the SUV, while there was no other indication of drug or alcohol use, Smith said.
Authorities were alerted of the two bodies by a man who was reportedly out hiking in the woods. The man used a pay phone in Truckee to call in the anonymous tip Tuesday.
Truckee resident Rick Cockrell said he had known Merchant for five years, even letting him take showers at his home.
Cockrell said Merchant, who officials characterized as a transient in the area, frequented Wild Cherries coffee shop in Truckee.
He often had “long conversations with God” and talked to himself, Cockrell said.
” The Union’s Robyn Moormeister contributed to this report.
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