The body of a 33-year-old man found inside a burned vehicle on Boykin Bridge Road late last week has been identified, but officers still haven’t determined what killed him.
Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Pope said the incident is still being treated as an open death investigation until lab and conclusive autopsy results have been returned, helping officers determine what caused the death of Cesar Padilla of Magnolia Lane, Clinton.
Padilla’s body was found inside a badly burned vehicle discovered around midnight Friday in a field in the 4900 block of Boykin Bridge Road.
Medical examiner Dr. Carl Barr said Thursday that initial autopsy results show that Padilla died before the fire started.
“I have to say this is a very bizarre case,” Dr. Barr stressed, “and we’ve turned up no real explanation at this point for the death.”
One reason, the medical examiner said, is because of how badly the body had been burned.
“It was so badly burned, it’s hard to be certain of anything,” Dr. Barr asserted. Yet he said he was “pretty confident” whatever happened to the 33-year-old occurred before the fire burned the vehicle, which was also charred so badly it has been difficult for investigators to determine what happened.
Pope said officers were able to collect some evidence at the scene, but they were still waiting for lab results, yet another reason the probe is virtually at a standstill.
“We are still treating this as a death investigation, but we are relying a great deal on the lab and autopsy results. We are still trying to determine the cause of death,” Pope said.
And that’s something Dr. Barr believes is going to be difficult to ascertain.
“It’s open-ended right now. Law enforcement are dealing with very little to go on because of how badly the vehicle was burned, too,” the medical examiner pointed out.
Last Friday, Pope said the vehicle appeared to have been wrecked but because it was found in a field and because there was a body inside, they were continuing to treat it as a death scene.
“It may be a while before we know any more,” the captain said.