ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Police opened a death investigation after a body was found inside the trunk of a burning car in St. Petersburg Monday morning.
Police said the car was found burning on the Pinellas Trail behind the Twin Brooks Golf Course near 41st Street South and 22nd Avenue.
A Medical Examiner, Forensics Unit, and Deputy Fire Marshal worked with St.Pete police on what is now a Homicide and Arson Investigation.
Police said the victim’s body was burned beyond recognition, therefore police have yet to determine the victim’s race or gender. They said the car was also too badly burnt to identify the make and model.
Police said a biker discovered the car this morning and that’s it’s an arson and homicide investigation with “a lot of complications.”
Police said the scene is about a mile into the marshland between the golf course and neighborhood. They said they couldn’t get a forensics car back there, so they had to load all their forensics gear onto golf carts instead.
“He’s the one that started barking to let me know there was something going on outside,” Tonya Miller said pointing to her dog. Miller lives in the nearby neighborhood and said her dog Dakota started barking around 6:00 am Monday morning.
Around that same time, police say a nearby biker discovered a car burning with a body in the trunk.
“A family and this victim is going to have so much sorrow in their hearts, it’s just tragic,” Miller said.
“It’s hard to tell at this point if the general public should be nervous,” Fernandez told 8 On Your Side’s Christine McLarty. “I would say this looked like it was a very deliberate act against this one person in the truck so there’s no reason for us to believe the general public should be concerned. However, we still have a lot of information to uncover here. We’re very early in this investigation and it’s going to be a while until we get all the results we can from the medical examiner and our forensics team to determine what happened.”
“We know the body in the trunk did not drive itself there,” St. Pete Police Spokesperson Yolanda Fernandez said. “Someone drove that person to that location and set that car on fire. We know that. We’re hoping someone else in the area saw something. Maybe around 6 a.m., there were a few other people on the trail that saw something or saw someone suspicious.”
St.Pete police said they need neighbors to check their security cameras for suspicious activity. They should be looking for the car around 6am Monday morning on their videos.
Miller says she tried to do her part. “We have several cameras, and I didn’t see anything on the camera,” Miller said.
An investigation is ongoing.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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