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SACRAMENTO (AP) – Investigators continued to search Sunday for the killer of a Sacramento sheriff’s deputy, ruling out a link to the deaths of two people found in a van in the Cosumnes River.

Evidence collected from the white, partially submerged van does not appear to tie the couple to the killing of Deputy Jeff Mitchell, said Sgt. Tim Curran, a spokesman for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

“Those two have virtually been eliminated from involvement,” Curran said Sunday.

Mitchell, 38, was shot in the head during a traffic stop at about 3:30 a.m. Friday near the rural community of Sloughhouse in eastern Sacramento County.

Mitchell reported he was checking on a white Chevrolet van without a license plate near an intersection south of Jackson Highway. Minutes later, he was found on the road shot in the head, authorities said.

Investigators thought they had a break in the case after finding a van submerged in the Cosumnes River about 20 miles from the shooting. Officers on Saturday identified the bodies in the van as Allan Everett Shubert, 43, of Sacramento, and Nicole Ann Welch, 28, of North Highlands, a Sacramento suburb. They appeared to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning after their vehicle’s tailpipe flooded.

Curran said investigators are actively looking for Mitchell’s killer. Officers believe the van involved in Mitchell’s death may have had front-end damage.

Mitchell, 38, a nine-year veteran of the department, lived in the Serrano neighborhood of El Dorado Hills with his wife, Crystal Lynn, and 6-year-old son, Jake.

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