Man found dead in burning car was killed before fire began, police say

Berkeley man found dead in a burning Lexus was killed before car was torched, police say

Police believe a 26-year-old Berkeley man was killed before the Lexus he was found in over the weekend in Sylmar was set ablaze.

"The fire was started to cover the crime, but not to kill him," Los Angeles police Lt. Paul Vernon said in a statement.

Police said Monday no arrests have been made in connection with the death of Jose Alberto Martinez, who was discovered Saturday in the front passenger seat of the torched car.

Martinez appeared to have bled extensively before the parked car was torched about 7:30 p.m. in a secluded dead-end on Harding Street, near Foothill Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Firefighters who responded to the fire under a pedestrian bridge discovered Martinez's body as they put out the flames.

A witness told police they saw someone running away from the bridge just moments after the fire started, according to the department statement.

Martinez, who was the car's registered owner, did not have a criminal record and held a state-issued security guard card.

Anyone with information was urged to call Det. Ryan Verna of LAPD's Mission Homicide Unit at (818) 838-9976.  To remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers at (800) 222-8477.

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