A woman was found dead inside a burning car in La Habra Heights Monday morning, prompting a homicide investigation, officials said.
Deputies and firefighters responded to the area of North Cypress Street and Nabal Road around 10 a.m. to find a car on fire, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.
After extinguishing the blaze, a woman was discovered inside the vehicle, officials said. She was pronounced dead by paramedics.
It’s unclear what sparked the blaze or how exactly the woman died.
The Sheriff’s Department initially said deputies were investigating the incident as a shooting death.
Video from the scene showed what appeared to be a gas canister near the white sedan. What looked like a possible bullet hole could also be seen on one of the car’s doors.
“There was evidence of some kind of shooting, but we’re unable to ascertain at this time if the victim was actually shot to death versus burned to death,” Lt. Hugo Reynaga said.
Benny Mosley said he doesn’t remember seeing the white sedan parked in the area when he drove past it around 9:30 a.m., but he and his son saw it on fire when driving by again a little after 10 a.m.
Mosley said the car’s windows were up when he first noticed smoke coming from the driver’s side.
“I said, ‘Something’s not right here.’ You could see the paint peeling on the top,” he told KTLA.
After stopping, the Mosleys and another passerby tried to see if anyone was inside. When they opened a door, flames and smoke began pouring out, and Mosley said he spotted a gas can sitting on one of the seats.
“The flames were about 8 to 10 inches at that point,” he said.
The witness said he then noticed a human’s charred feet were propped on the console, and he discovered the woman’s body was against the door of the passenger seat.
Officials have not identified the woman, and no further details were immediately available.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Those who prefer to provide information anonymously can call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.