A body was found in the back of a burning car on Aug. 31. Immediately, Los Angeles homicide detectives were called out to the scene.
But now the case of the body found in the back of a burning car is no longer considered a homicide.
"A lot of things could have happened, but it's very possible that this guy overdosed on some drugs and his friends suddenly got afraid and they drove the car over to this area and set it on fire," said North Hollywood Senior Lead Officer for the area, Manuel Arreygue of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Witnesses who live in the area said that it seemed like dozens--if not nearly 50 police, traffic and fire officials--were swarming the underpass at Radford Avenue and the Ventura Freeway that morning. At one point, they evacuated some of the area at 4 a.m. fearing that the car had a bomb inside.
Within a week, police identified the body in the back of the car as Russell Rathert, 50, of Van Nuys.
The coroner's toxicology report showed that Rathert died well before the fire started. There is no further evidence of foul play.
Meanwhile, people still leave votive candles and flowers at the spot where the car was set ablaze and write notes. Those memorials were left long before the victim was even positively identified.
"Now the case is simply an arson investigation," Arreygue said.