On Sunday, January 29, 2012 around noon San Juan County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to Head Canyon, located east of the 102 milepost on NM 371, in reference to an abandoned vehicle with blood inside of it. Deputies responded and found a significant amount of blood inside a Lincoln SUV registered to 22-year-old Irvin Rangel and his mother. They contacted Rangel’s mother and learned that Irvin Rangel is the primary user of the SUV and that he had not been seen or heard from since Tuesday, January 24, 2012.
Detectives conducted a search of the area, but were unable to locate anything of value. They began investigating the matter and soon learned that Rangel had traveled to Washington and returned with a friend, 29 year old Michael Decoteau, a week or two before Christmas. Rangel and Decoteau had been staying together with a few other individuals at a residence in Farmington. Detectives contacted Decoteau’s family and learned that he had also not been heard from since Tuesday, January 24, 2012.
On Saturday, February 4, 2012 Rangel’s family conducted an expanded search of the area where the SUV had been located. Approximately one mile away from the location, they found the body of a deceased male stuffed into a culvert. The body had evidence of several gunshot injuries. The male was tentatively ID’ed on Sunday through multiple, distinctive tattoos as Decoteau.
This afternoon, February 7, 2012, through fingerprinting, the Office of the Medical Examiner has confirmed that the body found was that of 29 year old Michael Decoteau.
The investigation is on-going and Rangel is still missing at this time.