Union Democrat staff

The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department is asking the public to help provide information about a body found in the Stanislaus National Forest several weeks ago, believed to be a homicide victim.

Authorities suspect the body, discovered by a pair of hunters Aug. 19, is that of Korey Kauffman, of Turlock.

Kauffman, 26, was reported missing in early April 2012. He "was believed to be a victim of foul play since day one," according to Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office Detective Kirk Bunch.

Bunch said little information is being released because the investigation is ongoing.

Where the body was specifically found is being withheld, but it was an "isolated" area, Bunch said.

Kauffman has been dead since the day he was reported missing, he said.

His body was found in Mariposa County by a pair of hunters who visit the area annually, he said.

He would not release their names, but said they are not suspects.

Kauffman was identified by his clothing and other personal property known to be on him, which Bunch would not specify.

The cause of death is still being looked into, he said.

However, circumstances are suspicious, based on family interviews and the fact that Kauffman had no connection to the Stanislaus National Forest and no transportation, said Bunch.

Kauffman's mother, Terri Richardson, of South Carolina, was told two weeks ago by detectives that her son's body had been found. She didn't get any other information because she hung up on the officer shortly after being told of the find.

"They didn't really elaborate on a lot and I didn't really push it," she said.

Richardson suspects foul play was a factor in her son's disappearance and death.

"My son is not just going to walk away from his house, be gone for a year-and-a-half and not say anything," she said. "He loves his little brother and stepdad, and he wouldn't do this to me or his real dad."

Richardson and investigators urged anyone with clues to come forward.

"This is just wrong," she said. "Whatever they did to him, they could have gone about it any other way."

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Bunch at 652-1673, Detective Cory Brown of the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Homicide Unit at 567-4485, or an anonymous tip line at 521-4636.

The can also email www.modestopolice.com/CrimeStoppers or text to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tip704" plus the message and be eligible for a cash reward.