Stolen items found in body, car found in canal

Several stolen items including a loaded gun, were found in the canal where a teen's body was discovered in Arvin.
ARVIN, CA - We're learning more about the death of an Arvin teenager found floating in a canal Tuesday. Sheriff's detectives now say they found stolen property in the car that was found in that same canal, plus more stolen property and a stolen, loaded gun with his body.

The family of Alejandro Pantoja continues to say they believe his death was not an accident. They say the last time they saw Pantoja was last Thursday, leaving his apartment with an acquaintance in the same vehicle that was found a mile away from where his body was floating.

What the coroner calls an accidental drowning, the family of 18-year-old Alejandro Pantoja calls a planned incident.

"I believe the guy he left with did something to him. I always knew he wasn't a guy to trust," Pantoja's girlfriend, Mayra Savalza said.

Pantoja was missing for four days before his body was found in a canal near Rockpile Road and Sunset Boulevard in Arvin. A mile away from where the body was found was a submerged car. Detectives are looking into the possibility a second person may have been in the vehicle and walked away from the scene.

"Since he's hiding, it makes it very difficult to think that he just drowned and if he would have been inside the car not floating a mile away," Savalza said.

Detectives found several stolen items both on Pantoja's body and in the car that was submerged in the water. Investigators say the stolen property was taken during a nearby burglary that happened the same day Pantoja disappeared. Investigators found a stolen, loaded firearm concealed on Pantoja that was reported stolen in a separate burglary earlier this month.

"Yes, he was in jail but it wasn't for bad things. He wasn't a bad person," Savalza said.

Pantoja was scheduled to be sentenced for one count of participating in a street gang and stolen property next month.

If anyone has information on this case, they're asked to call the Sheriff's Department at 861-3110 or Secret Witness at 322-4040.

You can also text anonymous tips to TIP411(847411), just type "KCSO" prior to the message.

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