It was originally a report of a grass fire. When the fire department arrived, they put the fire out and that's when they discovered the body of a female that was so badly burned that they couldn't tell an age or ethnicity.
It happened on Texas near Hutcheson. To the west are the skyscrapers of downtown Houston. A block to the north is what will soon be a new rail line. And on a path into an overgrown lot at the end of Texas Avenue are burned vegetation and a crime scene.
"At this time all we know is that she was a female," Houston Police Department Homicide Sgt. Troy Triplett said. "We don't know what race she is; she was too badly burned."
The fire was spotted by a man walking in the area before sunrise, around 3:30am. The scene is not far from an east-end community and Medel's Icehouse.
"It's surprising because it's so close," Leticia Medel with Medel's Icehouse said. "We're around the block from there and its scary, and we hope it's not somebody we know."
There are homeless encampments in the area, still a part of the landscape as it transitions from an old neighborhood to what's envisioned as valuable inner-loop property. It's not known if the woman was just passing through, whether she lived in the area or was killed elsewhere and her body dumped here. But it's reminding people to be cautious.
"Always, you know? Day and night," Medel said. "You still have to watch your surroundings."
No one was seen leaving the area and there was no ID found on the body. There was no clothing, although it may have burned off. Officials tell us the only thing not burned was the woman's left hand.
This is an industrial area and there is not a lot of traffic at night. Police will be checking surveillance footage from some of the businesses in the area to see if there is anything that could help in the investigation.
The woman's body is now at the medical examiner's office. An autopsy is scheduled to determine whether the woman died as a result of the fire or whether she died before that.
ABC13 reporter Simon Gutierrez contributed to this story. Find Simon on Facebook at ABC13SimonGutierrez or on Twitter at @sggutierrez
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