Still no arrests made in weekend homicide

By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer

About 40 people have been interviewed, but no arrests had been made by Monday night in connection with the weekend death of a 30-year-old Clovis woman, officials said.

Police said hunters found Laura McNaughton’s body in a ditch near the Pleasant Hill community north of Clovis on Saturday afternoon. They have declared the case a homicide, but would not comment on the cause of death.

“It will hinder the ability of investigators … by disclosing information including cause of death at this time,” District Attorney Matt Chandler said.

Dr. Merrill Hines, a forensic pathologist who performed a four-hour autopsy on McNaughton’s body, said he has issued a preliminary report to police, but would not discuss its contents with reporters.

The formal autopsy report will not be available for up to eight weeks, Hines said.

Chandler said McNaughton was last seen alive leaving work between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday. Friends and family members said she worked at the Rib Crib restaurant in Clovis.

Chandler said multiple scenes are being investigated in connection with the case, including the victim’s Clovis residence at 308 Burro Trail. He would not comment on evidence gathered.

Steve Donahue, a neighbor of the victim, said he saw police dusting for fingerprints on the front door of McNaughton’s home.

Chandler said police had located McNaughton’s vehicle but would not disclose the location where it was found.

Gwendolyn Beardmore of La Mesa, Calif., said her granddaughter had been a student at Clovis Community College. She said McNaughton was a good mother who liked to have fun.