Authorities have identified the body found by hikers in a Mendota Heights nature preserve as Joseph Michael Hernandez, a 35-year-old man who went missing earlier this month.
The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office said the cause and manner of death are still under investigation. Hernandez was reported missing from a local motel by a friend on Nov. 7.
While police had initially classified it as a missing person case, the department later said in an online posting “We have learned that the missing person is now being called a homicide victim.”
The medical examiner and Dakota County Sheriff’s Office will continue investigating how Hernandez died. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is assisting.
Hikers discovered the body near Friendly Marsh Park on Thanksgiving Day, according to the Mendota Heights Police Department. Law enforcement was called Thursday afternoon to the wooded area near Hwy. 110 and Dodge Lane.