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Sheriff: Dead Laytonville pair found near pot plants

Two badly decomposed bodies found Monday in rural Laytonville were discovered in a greenhouse with almost 200 small marijuana plants, Mendocino County Sheriff's officials reported Tuesday.

The conditions of the bodies have made it difficult to determine how they died, but sheriff's officials said they suspect homicide. A forensic autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, said Sheriff's Capt. Greg Van Patten. He said it would take six to eight weeks for toxicology results to be released.

The identities of the deceased have not been determined, he said.

Van Patten estimated the victims had been dead for no more than a week, in part based on the condition of the 180 pot plants, which were between 6 and 12 inches tall.

Warm, moist greenhouse conditions likely accelerated the bodies' decomposition, Van Patten said.

He said he can't speculate about what led to the deaths.

“Once we have a cause of death, we can start looking at scenarios,” Van Patten said.

The greenhouse, along with two travel trailers, is located on Woodman Creek Road, 7 to 8 miles east of Laytonville, he said.

The area is saturated with marijuana cultivation, said Kent Westwood, a Laytonville real estate agent and the president of the Woodman Creek Road Association.

Westwood said law enforcement officers have divulged no information about the suspected double homicide to local residents and no one in town seems to know who the victims might be.

“It's still a mystery to us,” Westwood said.

It was not immediately clear Tuesday who owns the property where the bodies were found.

Deputies were alerted to the bodies Monday morning by someone phoning from Laytonville.

Westwood said two men driving a newer truck reportedly stopped at the Chevron station in town to report the bodies. The station owner confirmed a man used the phone to contact sheriff's authorities.

Van Patten asked that anyone with information that could aid sheriff's detectives in the investigation phone the Sheriff's Office tip line at (707) 234-2100.

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or glenda.anderson@pressdemocrat.com.

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