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Two Arrests Made
In Canal Case
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Two men were taken into custody Thursday, May 28, in connection with a body found floating in the canal at Henry and River roads in Escalon.

San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department released information on Friday regarding the investigation and said Joseph Michael Denner, 28, and Donald Roradaugh, 32, were booked into the San Joaquin County Jail on suspicion of murder.

The body pulled from the canal on Sunday, May 24 has since been identified as Edward William Magana, 47, of Riverbank.

Sheriff’s Department spokesman Deputy Les Garcia said the case is “currently being investigated as a homicide based on evidence located at the scene and evidence obtained from the body during the autopsy.”

Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputies assisted San Joaquin County sheriff’s detectives with the arrests; Denner was booked into county jail about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, while Roradaugh was taken into custody and booked shortly before 10:45 p.m.

The original call in the case came in from a citizen about 10:40 a.m. on Sunday, May 24, reporting a possible body in the canal at the River and Henry location. Patrol officers arrived at the scene and did confirm that it was a human body.

Authorities did not release a motive and said the investigation is ongoing.

Meanwhile, two men still in custody in the Stanislaus County Jail in connection with a double murder almost two years ago were due back in court on Tuesday, June 9 for a pretrial hearing in Department 1.

Felix Antonio Valverde and Brandon Scott Pettit are each charged with two counts of murder, a count of arson on an inhabited structure/property and burglary in connection with the summer 2013 deaths of Pettit’s parents, Scott and Janet Pettit.

The fire broke out early morning on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013 and neighbors called in the fire, in the 4000 block of Divan Court in Modesto.

Scott Pettit was the longtime owner of Karate For Kids in Riverbank and was very active in the local community. Both he and his wife were 59 years old at the time of their deaths.

Authorities charged Valverde and Pettit in the deaths of the couple, indicating the fire was set in an attempt to cover up the deaths. The two have been incarcerated since August of 2013 and so far have had multiple hearings in court, but have not yet come to trial.

Attorney Robert Chase is representing Valverde, attorney Mark T. Sullivan is representing Pettit.