UPDATED: Death of transient found along Main Street in La Puente ruled homicide

LA PUENTE — The death of a 59-year-old transient along Main Street in La Puente over the weekend is being investigated as a homicide after an autopsy determined he died from head injuries, coroner’s officials said Wednesday.
Jesse Edward Mercado was pronounced dead after he was found, not breathing, about 10:35 a.m. Saturday in a tunnel in the 15900 block of Main Street in La Puente, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
A city of residence was not listed at the coroner’s office, however he was believed to be local transient, according to sheriff’s and coroner’s officials.
An autopsy determined he died from “blunt head trauma,” Winter said, and the case was being investigated as a homicide.
Mercado was found by friends in a covered area between two buildings, Lt. Holly Francisco of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
“He was lying where he would normally sleep,” she said.
It was not clear Wednesday how long Mercado may have been dead before his body was discovered, Francisco said.
The circumstances and a motive in the killing remained unclear.
“We’re just trying to contact as many people who saw him in the past few days as possible,” the lieutenant said.
The killing was believed to have taken place overnight.
Mercado was last seen alive about 9 p.m. the previous night about a block away, in the area of Main and First streets, Detective Ron Duval of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Sheriff’s officials initially said there was nothing overtly suspicious found at the scene to indicate the case was a killing, however homicide detectives were brought in to investigate nonetheless.
Mercado’s body had two black eyes, but did not outwardly show signs of major head trauma, Duval said.
There were also no signs of defensive wounds on the body, the detective added.
“It didn’t appear that he put up a fight,” Duval said.
The killing was one of two reported in the area over the weekend, though the slayings were not believed to be related, officials said.
Christopher Luis Ramirez, 18, of La Puente was found fatally shot about 11:40 a.m. Sunday in the living room of a home in the 18500 block of MacLaren Street, about two and a half miles to the west in East Valinda, sheriff’s officials said.
Ramirez, who did not live in the home, was found wounded by his brother, authorities said.
The circumstances of the shooting were unknown, and no suspects were initially identified, Detective Phillip Guzman of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Anyone with information on either case is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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