Firefighters discover burned body at scene of trash fire in east Houston

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Houston police are working to identify the man who was found dead, his body set on fire, found burning under a pile of trash.

Firefighters were called to an apartment on Market Street just south of the East Freeway in east Houston around 5:45 Friday morning. A tenant called 911 after he spotted a pile of burning garbage behind near his unit.

When firefighters looked closer, they realized it wasn't just a small trash fire.

Police say a black man between his mid-thirties to mid-forties had been beaten, wrapped in a blanket and set on fire.

"This guy had some trouble with somebody or somebody had something against him and they wanted him gone," said Detective Christopher Elder with HPD.

The man was found with a gash over his right eye. Police say it could be a gunshot wound.

"He might have had his hands bound, we can't tell if it's duct tape or it's just part of the trash, by the way his hands are sitting," Elder said.

If the man had an ID on him, fire likely destroyed it. That's why detectives don't know who he is. Police are checking their database to see if anyone reported a missing man who matches this man's description.

"Nobody really knows who it could possibly be or what actually happened," said Joice Smith, the manager of the apartment where the body was found.

Smith said she heard fighting behind the building early in the morning. Police say other people reported hearing shots.

"I know one of my residents did hear gunshots, a couple shots," Smith said.

Detectives don't know for sure how the man was killed. Police dogs were brought to the scene to figure out if accelerant was used to fuel the fire.

"We could find out later that he did get beaten and he was still alive when they burned him, we are just not sure," Elder said.

If you have any information on who this man is, call Crime Stoppers.

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