Evidence suggests the death of a person found in a burned-out Ford Bronco in a remote area of Capitol State Forest wasn’t an accident.
Accelerants apparently were used to start the blaze, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. The death could have been a suicide, or the fire could have been aimed at hiding evidence of a homicide, Lt. Greg Elwin said.
State Department of Natural Resources employees found the burning car about 9 a.m. Tuesday on the E-Line Road in the southern portion of the forest. Firefighters discovered the body while putting out the blaze and called detectives.
An autopsy Wednesday failed to determine a cause or manner of death, Coroner Gary Warnock said. The remains will be examined at the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for evidence of carbon dioxide in the blood, which could reveal whether the person was alive at the time of the fire, Warnock said.
Warnock has said his office has been unable to determine the body’s gender. Elwin added that investigators can’t find the Bronco’s registered owner — a man in his 50s. Detectives are operating on the assumption that the deceased person might be the owner.
The registered owner has a history of arrests, including for alleged property crimes and forgery.
Investigators have been unable to locate anything at the scene that would suggest a homicide but will continue to sift through the burn site, possibly for several more days, Elwin said.