Bones found last spring on a remote hillside in northern Napa County belonged to two Santa Rosa brothers missing since 2014, a Napa County sheriff’s official said Tuesday.
Genetic testing confirmed the identities as Mario Avendano, 31, and Florentino Avendano, 45, said sheriff’s Capt. Keith Behlmer.
The bones, found in the area of Butts Canyon, had no obvious signs of trauma or other evidence that might suggest foul play, and sheriff’s investigators suspect the men may have died after being caught in a July 2014 wildland fire. Known as the Butts fire, the blaze burned 4,300 acres, including the area where the bones were found.
The Avendano brothers were last seen in June 2014, and family members filed missing person reports with Santa Rosa police in early January 2015.
Police detectives looked for the men, including leads that the two had been dropped off in the Butts Canyon area not long before the fire and that they may have been working at a large, clandestine marijuana grow in the area, which burned in the blaze, Santa Rosa police Sgt. Josh Ludtke said.
Santa Rosa detectives had heard from firefighters that two Hispanic men were seen running in the area during the initial firefight, Ludtke said.