Investigation continues after body dumped, set on fire along Covina Hills Road

A sheriff’s deputy and an off-duty Los Angeles police officer who discovered a body set on fire along a secluded section of Covina Hills Road Tuesday likely “just missed” whoever dumped and ignited the body, according to a homicide investigator.
Officials have determined a body discovered ablaze about 3:45 a.m. Tuesday on Covina Hills Road, just west of Via Verde Street, was that of male, however his identity, age and the circumstances of his death remained a mystery, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said. The body was listed a the coroner’s office as a John Doe.
The body was still in flames when a sheriff’s deputy came upon it in the unincorporated county area between Covina and Walnut, about the same time as a off-duty LAPD officer, Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
“They just missed whoever dumped that body,” the lieutenant said. “Probably by a minute or two.”
The body was lying face-down on a dirt area beside the road.
The deputy used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames and checked for signs of life, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“Once it was determined that the person was deceased, investigators from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau responded and assumed control of the investigation,” according to the statement.
Though the “badly burned” condition of the body made it impossible to estimate an age Wednesday, the size of the body was consistent with that of an adult, Corina said.
Though it was unclear exactly how the person died, Corina said, “It doesn’t look like the fire’s what killed him.”
An autopsy was planned to determine the cause of death, officials said. It remained to be seen Wednesday whether fingerprints could be used to identify the person, or whether other methods such as X-ray comparison would need to be used.
After canvassing the area and speaking with local residents, detectives had not been able to piece together the circumstances leading up to the discovery of the body, Corina said. No information regarding any possible suspect was available.
No violent incidents or missing persons’ cases had been identified as possibly connected to the body discovery, Corina added.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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