Man faces felony charges in theft of hearse with body inside

Stolen Hearse
A hearse with a body inside that was stolen from a Pasadena church parking lot later crashed on the 110 Freeway during a police pursuit.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A man who police say stole a hearse with a body inside and led police on a wild chase that ended with a crash on the 110 Freeway has been charged with multiple felonies in the incident, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said.

James Juarez, 25, faces charges including fleeing a peace officer while driving recklessly and taking a vehicle without consent, the D.A.'s office said in a statement Monday.

Juarez was arrested Thursday after the crash, which closed a long stretch of the southbound 110 Freeway near Vernon Street during the morning commute. Authorities recovered the body inside a coffin in the back of the customized black Lincoln Navigator.

The vehicle was stolen the night before from a parking lot at St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church in East Pasadena, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Maria Lucero said.


The driver was delivering one body to the church and left another inside the vehicle with the engine running, , Lucero said.

Juarez, described by prosecutors as being homeless, faces a possible maximum sentence of more than three years in state prison if convicted, prosecutors said. It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether Juarez has a lawyer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.