Three people found dead inside torched SUV, driver still missing

UPDATE from Zohreen Adamjee: City of Orange Police canvassed East Oakmont Avenue for information about the driver of a burned SUV on Tuesday.

"We do have some witnesses that indicate that they saw someone running from the immediate area," said Lt. Fred Lopez with the City of Orange PD.

Three bodies were found in the burning GMC in front of an East Oakmont Avenue home Monday afternoon.

Neighbors tried putting out the fire with garden hoses. The fire was so intense, police initially couldn't make out the gender of the victims.

"You couldn't see anything in the car at all. It was just totally smoke pouring out and flames. And then there was a big pop," said a neighbor named Sandra.

Police now say two men were found in the back seats. One man was found in the passenger seat. It's unfamiliar territory for the quiet neighborhood.

"As a matter a fact, I don't ever recall other than an accident, finding anyone burned in a vehicle, so it is a grisly scene," said Lopez.

An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday. Some men had ID, but police aren't sure if it belonged to them yet.


One day after a burning SUV with three charred bodies inside rolled to a stop in front of a home in Orange, police searched today for the driver who fled the vehicle and also sought out surveillance video from the area in hopes of learning more about what happened.

"Our detectives are still searching the area for video footage," Lt. Fred Lopez of the Orange Police Department said. "This car had to come from somewhere before it came to rest here."

The SUV, already ablaze, rolled onto a sidewalk in front of a home in the 500 block of East Oakmont Avenue near Shaffer Street at 2:18 p.m. Monday, police said.

Three bodies were found inside, all male -- one in the front passenger seat and two in the backseat, according to police and the coroner's office. The remains were so badly charred from the fire that a cause of death was not
immediately known, and the victims could not be identified.

Lopez said surveillance video captured the driver of the SUV running from the vehicle following a "low-speed" collision. The video wasn't clear enough to provide police with a good description of the driver, he said.

Autopsies on the three bodies are planned for Thursday, although Lopez said dental or other records may be needed to identify the victims because the remains were so badly charred.

Identifying the men, however, could be key to identifying the driver, Lopez said.

The driver is only being considered a person of interest, because it's still unknown how the three victims died, according to Lopez.

Police said the full-sized black SUV had not been reported stolen. Although it was identifiable by its license plate, Lopez said determining who owned it was proving to be difficult, thanks to an incomplete document trail.

"This car has switched hands so many times," Lopez said. Police said the vehicle was not registered to anyone in Orange County.

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