The key witness in a local prostitution investigation was found dead Monday afternoon at his home near the Midway community.
Forsyth County Sheriff's Capt. Frank Huggins said investigators are treating the death of 49-year-old Guillermo Lira's death "as a homicide."
Family members made the discovery about 1 p.m. Monday, Huggins said, when they came to check on Lira at 5180 Atlanta Highway.
The cause of death has not been released, though Forsyth County Sheriff Ted Paxton said evidence indicates that Lira was beaten.
"There are signs of blunt force trauma, but we'll have to wait on the medical examiners to give us an exact cause of death," Paxton said.
He said authorities think Lira's death is linked to a robbery in early October at a nearby home, which authorities suspect was used for prostitution.
Authorities who responded to a report of a robbery at the house found Lira badly beaten. But Paxton said the investigation stalled because Lira refused to cooperate.
"He denied he'd been beaten up even though it was obvious from the trauma to his body," Paxton said. "He's the victim here again today."
The sheriff said authorities are concerned about alleged illegal activities at the house and the apparent connection to Lira's death.
"We are diligently looking at that aspect of it," he said.
Lira's body was found in the kitchen of the one-story, white frame house, but Paxton said evidence indicates the assault started in one of the back bedrooms.
Crime scene tape used Monday to mark off the property caught the attention of passing motorists.
Unmatching sheets hung over the windows and a table was the only piece of furniture on the wrap-around porch facing Atlanta Highway.
Paxton said there are about three bedrooms and a living room inside. He said a hallway runs straight through the house from the front door to the back of the structure.
It appears the home was robbed.
"The house has been ransacked," Paxton said. "They were definitely looking for something. Evidence suggests a lot of it was done after the attack."
Paxton said Lira did not own the house and it is unclear if he lived there alone.
"We have a name a person gave the landlord," Paxton said. "What we have not resolved is whether this individual is the person or gave an alias. We don't know."
Paxton said authorities are interviewing those close to Lira, but are having a difficult time getting information.