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Body found stuffed in freezer at auto body shop; owner charged

A man accused of killing a man and keeping his body stuffed inside a freezer at an abandoned Central Valley auto body shop has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Jacob Medina Cervantes, 26, of Modesto was arrested Tuesday after a tow truck driver hired to haul cars away from the shop found the frozen body, KTXL-TV reported.

Authorities have yet to release the identity of the body, saying only that it was found intact. It was also unclear how long the body had been in the freezer.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim was killed sometime between Dec. 1 and April 10, the Modesto Bee reported. The cause of death was not revealed.

Bail for Cervantes, who owned the Customs Shop in the small town of Ceres south of Modesto, was set at $2 million after prosecutors expressed concern about his contacts outside the country, the Bee reported.

Detectives were also investigating Cervantes' business dealings after several customers reportedly complained that work they had paid for wasn't getting done. Cervantes has owned several auto body shops across Stanislaus County.

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jason.wells@latimes.com

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