A gruesome discovery was made in Chinatown Tuesday morning after a woman’s body was set on fire and stuffed into a shopping cart left on the street, the LAPD said.
Police said they do not yet know whether the woman died before or after being set on fire, and she was so badly burned that they cannot even say how old she was.
The charred remains of clothing were left behind after a woman’s body was trapped inside this shopping cart and set alight on Wilhardt and Main streets, according to the LAPD.
Detectives said the gruesome scene was discovered just before 5 on Tuesday morning by a man arriving for work in the industrial art district.
“The fire was still burning – this person used a fire extinguisher to put out this fire,” LAPD Lt. Ryan Rabbett said.
Police said surveillance video from businesses in the area spotted a man on a bicycle at the time of the fire. He was seen heading towards the Main Street Bridge – a block away – where police also searched for evidence.
“It’s just incredibly sad. That’s not what this neighborhood is all about,” Genevieve Burress said.
Burress lives nearby and says she doesn’t feel unsafe here despite the many homeless encampments and drug activity after dark.
“I saw people using drugs and running on the train tracks. I called the police and saw people lighting fires. The fire department was called several times,” she said.
Police do not know if the victim was homeless as they have not yet been able to identify him.
Sarah Buckley, who works at a nearby art studio, believes the inhumanity shown here is the result of society’s systemic failures to address mental health issues.
“People are driven to this place – it would take a long time for the human mind to come up with a reaction to do something like that to someone, which is just hideous,” she said.
LAPD hasn’t released the surveillance video, and detectives aren’t saying if it captured any footage of the burning woman, but LAPD does have footage of the man on the bike, and investigators are now looking for him.
Anyone with information about the death has been asked to call 877-LAPD-247.