Family: Body found in Pecos River is missing Santa Rosa man

Updated: 05/25/2014 11:02 PM | Created: 05/25/2014 10:59 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The Guadalupe County Sheriff has confirmed to KOB Eyewitness News 4 that a man's body was found in the Pecos River under a bridge near Santa Rosa.

The gruesome discovery comes 18 days after a local family reported 51-year-old Anthony Baca missing.

The family says the body found is Baca, based on an identifying tattoo. Now the pressure is on law enforcement to figure out what happened.

“He was a wonderful person, he touched everybody,” said Baca’s sister, Rebecca Maes.

In Santa Rosa, everybody is family.

On May 6th after Maes didn't hear from her brother for a few days she reported him missing.

A week later the Guadalupe County Sheriff put out this message on 51-year-old Anthony Baca:

“He frequently travels between Santa Rosa and Albuquerque,” the bulletin reads.

But Maes knew Anthony wasn't on the road -- he didn't have a driver's license, he never left Santa Rosa.

By the time investigators reached out to New Mexicans, she had been searching for days.

“The search was done by family and friends,” said Maes. “We searched and re-searched and re-searched.”

For 18 days she looked for her brother.

On Saturday came a terrifying call -- a passerby found a body under a bridge near town.

“I knew it was him,” she said.

Maes drove out to that bridge, 10 miles south of town.

“I saw the office of medical investigation and two sheriffs department units,” she said. “So I just turned around and came back.”

Maes later identified one of her brother's tattoos.

The sheriff's office says a flood through the area on Friday likely washed Baca's body down the Pecos.

Near the bridge where he was found, the banks of the Pecos River are still damp.

The sheriff's office tells KOB they would not be surprised if his body was washed downstream by those flood waters.

But how and where he died — that’s still a mystery.

The sheriff tells KOB he's investigating the possibility this wasn't just an accident.

For Maes, it’s closure after doing all she could.

“I want to thank my family and friends who helped look for my brother,” she said.

The Office of the Medical Investigator is expected to release a cause of death by Wednesday.

Baca's entire family, including his kids, were part of the search party who looked for him since early this month.

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