Officials have not yet identified a burned body found near an area north of Los Angeles where authorities have been searching for a missing former Naperville resident, but an uncle said in television interview that the body “more than likely” was the missing man.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s department had not yet identified the body as of Friday afternoon and officials said they don’t expect to have more information for at least a few more days.
The coroner has not yet scheduled an autopsy for the body, found burning near Castaic Lake. Coroners officials said there are a backlog of cases and referred all comments to Los Angeles County sheriff’s department investigators.
The gruesome discovery was made around 6 a.m. Wednesday about three miles north of Lake Hughes Road by a cyclist who initially thought it was a brush fire, said Los Angeles County fire supervisor Bernard Peters. When fire crews arrived, they instead found a burning body.
Frank David told CBS that the body was “more than likely” that of his nephew 19-year-old Bryce Laspisa, whose 2003 Toyota Highlander was found a few days before on the Main Ramp Road near the lake.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Dave Dolson confirmed Wednesday that the charred remains were that of a male.
“I don’t want to go there. I don’t want to go there,” David told CBS. “That’s more than likely him, but I don’t really want to face that right now.”
Laspisa was traveling home from college to visit family in Laguna Niguel before disappearing on Friday. According to authorities, Laspisa had called his parents several hours before his SUV was discovered about 5:30 a.m.
His mother, Karen Laspisa, told KTLA-TV that he had pulled over in a residential area.
“He said, ‘I got off the 5 [Freeway]… I’m tired, I’m going to sleep in my car,’” she said.
She then told him to lock his doors and to call her when he awoke.
“And that’s the last time I talked to him,” Karen Laspisa said.
Authorities have been scouring the Castaic Lake area in search of Laspisa near where the burning body was found, but have said no connection can be made until coroner’s officials identify the remains.
The body was so badly burned that detectives initially couldn’t determine its sex.
The Chicago Tribune Contributed to this story.