Body Found In Trunk Still Unidentified

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The Gila County Sheriff's Office is investigating a Tuesday morning car fire on Cracker Jack Mine Road where the body of a man was discovered in the trunk.

GCSO Detective George Ratliff said they are still unable to identify the victim and the GCSO does not yet know the cause of death.

DNA testing on the man's body has been completed, but the results have not been returned.

Investigators are also waiting for toxicology reports on the unidentified man.

Ratliff said that the GCSO, at this time, has no suspect.

"We have got a lot of legwork (to do)," the detective said.

Payson Fire Chief Marty deMasi said firefighters, after putting out the fire shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday, saw a hand in the back seat of the car as the smoke cleared.

The back seat itself was completely destroyed, which allowed firefighters to see into the trunk.

At the request of the sheriff's deputies, firefighters forced open the trunk to discover a body.

"After putting the fire out, we saw a hand, and that changed everything," deMasi said. "It became a crime scene at that point."

DeMasi said, the fire department was called to the scene at 2:58 a.m. The car was located about half a mile onto Cracker Jack Mine Road, which is north of Payson off Highway 87.

The fire chief said the vehicle fire did not take long to get under control.

Ratliff identified the car that was engulfed in flames as a small foreign vehicle. Scott mentioned the car was so badly burned that it could not be identified.

Scott said Wednesday afternoon, the sheriff's office had an idea of the identity of the person found in the trunk and the person is likely a local resident.

Ratliff said the fire and death is a joint investigation of the sheriff's office and the Payson Police Department and is ongoing.

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