Homicide detective: Evidence about human remains found in Tick Fire area may have been destroyed

Area that burned in the Tick Fire as viewed from the end of Yellowstone Lane. October 26, 2019 Dan Watson/The Signal

By Caleb Lunetta, Emily Alvarenga & Jim Holt

Signal Staff Writers

Homicide detectives are investigating human remains discovered Saturday in Canyon Country near an area affected by the Tick Fire and say fire may have destroyed evidence.

The remains were found near the intersection of Sand Canyon Road and Thompson Ranch Drive, per officials.

“The only thing we have is that a public works employee was working in the area and stumbled upon this,” said Deputy Morgan Arteaga of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.

The discovered body is not believed to be the result of the Tick Fire, according to Arteaga. 

“The human remains are not burned as of this time, they were just remains found in a burned area,” said Arteaga, at approximately 3:10 p.m. on Saturday.

On Monday, Lt. Derrick Alfred of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Homicide Bureau said: “There is a possibility that fire can destroy evidence, and there’s usually evidence left at the scene to point us in a direction.”

Reflecting on the possibility of lost evidence, he said: “It means we just have to work harder.”

As investigators worked on the scene Saturday they said the public works employee had discovered a human skeleton that they believe to have been in the area for more than a year, Alfred said.

“We don’t have any reason to believe that this is a victim of this fire or previous fires,” he said. “It looks like the body may have been concealed up here or was here in the vegetation and after the fire, the body was revealed and found by the public.”

Alfred declined to comment on whether investigators believe foul play was involved with the death of the victim, but that the situation did appear suspicious. 

“We can’t say for sure until the coroner investigates, but it is an odd place for … somebody to just walk up there and die,” said Alfred. 

Investigators, Alfred said, over the next couple of days will be combing the area looking for any evidence or weapons that could give detectives an idea of how the body was found in the area.

“So we have a lot of work to do and we got to start looking into people that may be missing (in) the areas,” said Alfred, “if anybody knows anybody they’ve been looking for for a while and haven’t seen (them).” 

One name detectives kept hearing since Saturday, as a local person missing in that time frame, Alfred said, was the name William Cierzan.

Cierzan vanished from his home on Cuatro Milpas Street, near Seco Canyon Road, in Saugus, in the late afternoon of Jan. 26, 2017.

Los Angeles County Fire Department officials reported no deaths as a result of the fire in an incident update released Saturday morning. 

Anyone with information can call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

[email protected] 


On Twitter: @jamesarthurholt

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