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Coroner identifies body found in burning car in Studio City

Authorities said Wednesday that a preliminary investigation into the case of a body found in a burning car in Studio City last month indicates that the death was not a homicide.

Russell Rathert, 50, of Van Nuys was identified as the man discovered in the car engulfed in flames Aug. 31 on Radford Avenue under the 101 Freeway overpass.

Officials in the Los Angeles County coroner's office said the death will be classified as "undetermined" until the final toxicology report is prepared.

But officials noted that the initial autopsy found no injuries on Russell, who was found in the back seat of the four-door sedan. Evidence at the scene showed he died before the fire.

Los Angeles police officials said they are not handling the case as a homicide.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Comments () | Archives (5)

Let's see. He died before the fire, but it is not being investigated as a homocide. So did he commit suicide and his cigerette cause a fire? This is a mystery death, can't wait to find out how his car caught fire after his death.

It still seems like a homocide. How could that happen?

Is the L.A. County Coroner hiring? I don't have any experience but I learn quickly.

Maybe he overdosed and was smoking a cigarette. Wait for the final report.

It's a nice quiet Studio City neighborhood with no street lighting. And the underpass is a great place to sleep in your car, in your old delapadated motorhome, or in a cardboard box. There aren't any restrooms, nearby but don't let that inconvenience you.


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