WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A body found in a wooded area of Winston-Salem Tuesday is believed to be a man who was assaulted at his Wilkes County residence.
Authorities are now calling the investigation a homicide.
Police said the body was found on Willard Road near Interstate 40 around 5 p.m.
Officials identified the body as Victor Ruiz of Dennyville. Evidence at Ruiz's home, off Old 60 Highway in Wilkes County near the Yadkin County line, suggested a struggle and assault occurred around 2 a.m. Tuesday.
"It makes you a little bit concerned, but you know, you hear it on TV stuff about what happened but not that close by usually," said Charles Swaim, who lives a short distance from Ruiz's home.
Neighbors described Ruiz as a nice guy who was always waving and smiling. They say they had no idea anything had happened to him until deputies came knocking.
"It was a shock, because, like I said, he was just an outstandingly nice neighbor and I couldn't imagine anything like that happening," said Richard Gray, who lives directly across the road from Ruiz's home.
"We didn’t hear anything. We've never heard any loud racket over there. We never even heard gunshots," said Swaim's wife, Brenda.
Now Dennyville residents are wondering who came into their neighborhood and killed their neighbor while they slept.
"That's an unusual crime. It makes you wonder who's around your next door at night," said Gray.
The exact cause of death is to be determined by an autopsy.
Deputies believe this is an isolated incident and there is no danger to the public.
Anyone with any information can call Winston-Salem police at 336-773-7700 or the Wilkes County Sheriff's Office at 336-838-9111.