Body of missing West Covina woman found in Castaic

CASTAIC — Coroner’s officials Wednesday identified a woman who apparently killed herself by mixing chemicals inside a car in Castaic as a 20-year-old West Covina resident who had been reported missing.
The cause of death remained under investigation by the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner, however the woman initial appeared to have committed suicide by mixing chemicals in her parked car to create a poisonous gas, Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said.
The woman’s body was discovered about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in a field about 1,000 yards from Lake Hughes Road, near Dry Gulch Road, he said.
A patrol deputy spotted a blue Honda Civic that looked like it may have been abandoned and checked the license plate number, Whitmore said. The plate was listed as belonging to a missing person.
“As he walked up to the car, (the deputy) saw signs saying ‘stay away,’ and ‘suicide,’” and warning of poison gas in the car, he said. The deputy then saw the body of a woman slumped in the back seat of the car.
Sheriff’s arson officials and Los Angeles County Firefighters carefully opened the car, Whitmore said.
The woman had been reported missing by family members Sunday, West Covina police Sgt. Pat Benschop said.
“There was nothing suspicious other than she was not where she was supposed to be,” he said.
Police deferred all further questions to the sheriff’s department.
Though coroner’s officials said the woman was not of Asian descent, the method authorities suspect the woman used to kill herself Tuesday, hydrogen sulfide gas poisoning, originated as a trend in Japan.Hundreds of people reportedly killed themselves in Japan in a similar fashion during the first six months of 2008.
The apparent suicide in Castaic was not the first such incident in Los Angeles County.
A 23-year-old Pasadena man died in August, 2008, after apparently mixing chemicals in his car as it was parked in the 400 block of Rosemead Boulevard in Pasadena. According to coroner’s officials, he too was not of Asian or Japanese descent.

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