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Originally published Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 5:59 PM

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Burlington man's body unearthed; suspect sought in slaying

Investigators in two counties are looking for a suspect in the slaying of an 18-year-old Skagit County man whose bullet-riddled body was found in a shallow grave in Snohomish County on Monday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Investigators in two counties are looking for a suspect in the slaying of an 18-year-old Skagit County man whose bullet-riddled body was found in a shallow grave in Snohomish County on Monday.

The body of the victim, who was identified Thursday by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office as Fernando Mendoza, of Burlington, Skagit County, was found in a rural area near Machias, east of Everett, by a person walking a dog, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.

The neighbor had reported smelling a strong odor in the area for several weeks, according to a search warrant filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Shari Ireton, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, said investigators are actively seeking a suspect in the case. The suspect's named has not been released.

According to court documents, the victim's sister reported his disappearance July 3.

When investigators questioned his girlfriend, she told investigators that Mendoza had gone to Everett the day before in a friend's Lincoln to meet up with someone she said owed him $3,000 to $5,000 for drugs, court documents say.

Investigators with the Skagit County Sheriff's Office obtained the victim's cellphone records, which showed the last call he made was near the intersection of Highways 2 and 9 near Snohomish.

Detectives also recovered the Lincoln, which had been parked in a Marysville parking lot since July 2, court documents indicate.

After the body was found Monday, deputies found drag marks from the shallow grave to a nearby home as well as three separate footprints, court records say. One witness allegedly told deputies he helped the suspect move the body after the fatal shots were fired.

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com

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