Man’s Body Found in Trunk of Burning Car in Arleta

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A man’s body was found Monday night in the trunk of a burning car in Arleta, according to authorities, who are asking for the public’s help in solving the case.

The Los Angeles Fire Department responded about 10:20 to an alley near the intersection of Vena Avenue and Terra Bella Street (map) after receiving a call of a dumpster fire. Firefighters found an Audi A4 in flames, which they extinguished before making the grim discovery.

arleta body trunk

Authorities were investigating the discovery of a man’s body in the trunk of a burning car in Arleta on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

“The fire fully engulfed the passenger compartment but never made it to the trunk,” Los Angeles police Lt. Paul Vernon said in a statement. “It appears the man was already dead when the fire was set. It looks like the killer(s) was trying to cover his tracks.”

The unidentified victim was described by authorities as a Hispanic male between 25 and 35 years old.

The cause of death was not immediately apparent, and would not be known until coroner’s officials completed an autopsy, Vernon said. However, the killing “does show signs of gang or narcotics influence,” he said.

“It’s hard to tell the color of the car at this point. It’s a dark Audi A4, probably about 2003,” Vernon told KTLA, referring to the vehicle’s model year. “It doesn’t appear to be stolen, or at least reported stolen as of today.”

Detectives searched the neighborhood and alley for clues, and an LAFD arson unit was also at the scene.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery Homicide Division at 818-486-6890. Those who wish to remain anonymous can do so by calling Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or texting the letters “LAPD” and a tip to 274637.