The remains of a Fowler man who went missing nearly four years ago have been found, according to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. The man accused of killing him, his roommate, was murdered in Mexico before he could be arrested.
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Fernando Subia, 46, was last seen walking in the 4100 block of East Adams Avenue, just outside the city of Fowler, on the evening of Dec. 9, 2014. He did not show up for work at Harris Ranch Beef Co. in Selma the next day.
Sheriff Margaret Mims said during a news conference on Tuesday that Subia and his accused killer, 31-year-old Ricardo Ortiz, were co-workers at Harris Ranch and lived together. The night Subia was last seen, he got into a heated argument with Ortiz about a cellphone, Mims said.
Ortiz was questioned by detectives three times after Subia’s disappearance and insisted Subia ”walked off into the fog that day and he never saw him again,” Mims said.
Detectives did not have enough evidence to arrest Ortiz. He moved to Mexico in November 2015.
Detectives received a tip earlier this year that Ortiz killed Subia and buried the body in an almond orchard on Adams Avenue between Peach and Villa avenues in Fowler, authorities said.
Mims did not disclose who gave the information, saying she needed to protect the investigation.
Detectives began digging on May 17 with help from PG&E, an anthropologist and the public work’s department. A femur and thigh bone were located on the second day of digging. Then more bones, clothing and a wallet were found.
Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti said although investigators were certain the bones and items belonged to Subia, they had to be sent to a laboratory for DNA testing.
Tests confirmed on Aug. 22 that the remains were, in fact, Subia’s, Botti said.
When detectives tried looking for Ortiz again, they discovered he might have been killed in Camalú, a city in Baja California, on Aug. 16, just days before the DNA test confirmation.
They confirmed it was Ortiz with photographs of his tattoos, and compared it with the body in Mexico, Mims said.
Subia leaves behind his four children, three sisters, a brother and his mother. Some of his family members, including his mother, were at the news conference on Monday, where Mims said she is grateful the sheriff’s office could help bring closure to the family.
“They are grateful that detectives never gave up,” Mims said of Subia’s family. “They remembered Fernando in a happy way. He always had a smile on his face, always fun. They preferred to remember him in that way as they move forward.”