AP NEWS

Police: Female body found in Somerset brush fire identified

April 8, 2019

Somerset Borough police believe they have identified the individual whose body was discovered in a brush fire along Musselman Avenue Saturday but are not naming the person until that information has been confirmed and relatives have been notified.

Police Chief Randy Cox said an autopsy was completed Monday, confirming the individual was a female in her early 30s. The autopsy and other investigative efforts helped to establish the person’s identity.

“However, that identity will not be publicly released until it is forensically confirmed and the appropriate next-of-kin notifications have been made,” a press release from the department states. “Chief Randy Cox noted that medical and dental records comparison and DNA analysis are still pending in the investigation.”

While it will be up to the coroner to determine cause and manner of death, Cox said that at this time “the death does not appear to be a result of foul play or involve any other persons.”

Shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday, a motorist saw smoke coming from the area, near the 500 block of East Main Street, and stopped to investigate. Upon finding the fire, the motorist found a charred corpse at the scene.

Police said there’s an early theory that the person used an accelerant to set a stack of utility poles on fire and somehow became engulfed in the flames.

Officials added that the person was possibly still holding the container with the accelerant at the time, and seemed to retreat a short distance from the fire.

“We have a theory on how it happened and how the fire progressed, and things like that,” Cox said in an interview Sunday. “We have a fire inspector on scene (Sunday) who has confirmed some of our early theories.”

Cox noted in Monday’s press release that the case will be closed after consultation with Coroner Wallace Miller and Somerset County District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser.

Pennsylvania State Police Forensic Services, a state police fire marshal and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are assisting with the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the department at 814-445-1525.