Burning body found in SE Houston ditch

HPD and HFD are investigating a body that was found burning in a ditch along this southeast Houston street (Demond Fernandez)

September 24, 2011 8:35:43 PM PDT
Police are investigating a homicide in southeast Houston. According to officials, a body was found burning in a ditch Saturday.

Police believe the man found dead was murdered.

The body was discovered around 2pm Saturday in the 600 block of Keith Ave. near Allen-Genoa Rd. south of Fairmont Parkway.

Police do not have any suspects, but they are interviewing two people in connection to the case.

A couple of neighbors called the Houston Police Department. They saw the fire and rushed over with garden hoses to put it out, then discovered the burned body.

"It's a charred body, is what we have. We have a charred body right now," HPD Sgt. Richard Rodriguez said.

HPD homicide detectives and arson police spent hours searching the area for clues.

They said the unidentified victim appears to be a slim Latino man in his early 20s.

"It looks like somebody poured an accelerant on the body and then lit it. That's what it looks like," Rodriguez said.

Detectives said they believe someone first murdered the man at a different location, then dumped his body and finished the crime off the side of the road.

A neighbor told police she saw a white SUV back into a driveway. She then saw a huge flash of fire come from behind the vehicle, followed by a Latino man running around the truck and picking up a gas can.

"She said it looked like a big flame shooting up and then dying back down," Rodriguez said.

The vehicle then sped away, officials said.

Some neighbors said they saw the smoke and noticed something strange in the air, but didn't think much of it.

"It was just like some kind of funny smell, but I didn't even pay attention, so we went to the store," Laura Hernandez said.

It didn't take long for an accelerant-sniffing dog to help lead police to a nearby mobile home park where detectives say they've picked up a couple people of interest.

We are told one person police are questioning continues to change his story.

The medical examiner's office will begin its autopsy on the victim Sunday morning.

Stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com for more information as it becomes available.

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