Mystery Shrouds Burned Body

Detectives sifting through clues


Fire consumed most of the SUV found burning off Highway 87 last week. After the fire was extinguished, a body was found inside.

Fire consumed most of the SUV found burning off Highway 87 last week. After the fire was extinguished, a body was found inside.

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The case surrounding a body found in a vehicle fire off Highway 87 last week is growing increasingly strange as detectives sort through new clues.

On Wednesday, Gila County sheriff’s detectives were just finishing up a preliminary examination of the charred vehicle at an impound lot in Payson.

Detectives can now say the body found inside the truck was that of a man who possibly had a gunshot wound.

However, until an autopsy is completed in Tucson, GCSO Det. Jaime Garrett said she could not verify how the man died.

“This is still a very active case,” she said.

Oddly, the truck was found backed up into a canyon off a U.S. Forest Service Road, a pile of camping supplies surrounding it. Food, water, a tent, reading materials, toilet paper, toothbrush, nearly everything that was in the truck, sat on the ground.

“It appears he was going to sleep in the back of the truck,” Garrett said.

Besides the body, there was also a pile of rocks in the back of the SUV. Garrett did not know why the rocks were there or what purpose they may have served.

Firefighters found the truck fully engulfed April 28 after a motorist on Highway 87 spotted flames shooting from the forest and called for help.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze, only then discovering the body.

The fire consumed most of the truck, even melting the tires off. Little was left of the body, Garrett said.

The vehicle’s identification number was in tact and detectives are now searching for the SUV’s owner. Detectives hope tracking down the owner could help identify the body.

Any tracks surrounding the SUV were destroyed by the flames, which ate through a 20 by 20 foot section of brush circling the truck.

No gun was found onsite, she said.

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