Death of Del Mar veterinarian shrouded in mystery - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Death of Del Mar veterinarian shrouded in mystery

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) - There are more questions than answers in the death of a Del Mar veterinarian following a traffic accident Saturday night. The sheriff's department has now opened a homicide investigation, but friends and family want to know why it took more than 12 hours to discover the doctor's body.

News of veterinarian Dr. Robert Stonereaker's mysterious death comes as a shock to those who worked with him, like Len La Riccia, owner of Bird Crazy in Kearny Mesa.

"That's probably what I'm going to miss the most on a personal level - how funny he could be sometimes," he said.

Colleagues recall Stonebreaker's skills as a bird vet. He worked with his wife at the Animal and Bird Hospital in Del Mar.

"He was very skilled and very well respected, but to think it might be a homicide is just unbelievable," Dr. Jane Corrigan said.

Doctor Stonebreaker's body was found near a Rancho Santa Fe home early Sunday morning. Detectives say the 53-year-old died of severe head injuries.

"They were of a traumatic nature, more so than if the person just fell and hit his head on the pavement," sheriff's department Lt. Dennis Brugos said.

Doctor Stonebreaker was apparently involved in a traffic accident just 800 feet from where his body was found. CHP officers discovered his Porsche Carrera in a ditch by the side of the road the night before, but failed to locate Dr. Stonebreaker.

"Upon arrival he was nowhere to be found. They checked the whole area, there was no sign of any blood, no sign that the driver had any serious trauma," CHP Sgt. Lewis Hall said.

Exactly how Dr. Stonebreaker received his head injuries, and why he climbed a fence to end up in front of the home remains a mystery.

"We're hoping to get some kind of timeline on that, where he may have been, where he was going or coming from, who he was with, if anyone," Lt. Brugos said.

Doctor Stonebreaker lived in Encinitas with his wife and three children. A memorial service is planned for Friday afternoon at St. John's Catholic Church in Encinitas.

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