Hearse stolen from California church with body inside recovered after freeway chase

National

Los Angeles police officers stand after a pursuit of a stolen hearse with with a casket and body inside on Interstate 110 in South Los Angeles Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. The hearse was stolen from outside a Greek Orthodox church in East Pasadena on Wednesday night. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says one person is in custody. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

LOS ANGELES (AP/KTLA) — It has all the hallmarks of an only-in-Los Angeles crime: A thief stole a hearse — with a body inside — that went on a wild ride, ending with a chase and a crash on a busy freeway.

Authorities say they found the body undisturbed inside a casket Thursday morning and took someone into custody after the crash, which closed the 110 Freeway during the morning commute.

The crime began Wednesday night when the thief stole the black Lincoln Navigator from outside St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church around 8 p.m. in East Pasadena. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department pleaded with the thief on social media to return the body in a post that was widely shared online.

“Out of all the bad decisions you have made, at least make one good one & bring back the deceased person & casket inside the Navigator,” it tweeted.

Local media have reported that the body remained in the vehicle while a mortuary attendant brought a different body into the church and that’s when the SUV was stolen.

On Thursday morning, a witness reported seeing the SUV. Los Angeles police officers pursued the hearse on the freeway until it crashed around 7:45 a.m.

Video footage from news helicopters showed that it has heavy front-end damage. It was not immediately clear if the person in custody was the same person who had stolen the hearse.

The sheriff’s department did not identify the mortuary.

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