Grisly discovery after vehicle fire snuffed


CALGARY – The Calgary police homicide unit is investigating after three bodies were found Monday in a burned-out vehicle at a construction site on the city’s northwestern edge.

Acting Insp. Paul Wozney with the major crimes section said one of the deceased was male and one was female. It was believed the third was also female, but investigators didn’t know for sure.

It was also believed all three were adults, he said. None of the victims was identified and autopsies were scheduled for Tuesday.

Wozney said the scene was suspicious.

“It really is just the circumstances of three deceased persons in a vehicle with fire used to conceal whatever is inside that vehicle,” he said.

“In our experience as police officers, often fire is used as a way to conceal crime scenes.”

Fire department spokeswoman Carol Henke said someone who saw the car fire called 911.

By the time firefighters arrived in the Sage Hill neighbourhood around 7 a.m., the car, sitting beside the wooden frame of a townhome unit under construction, was engulfed in flames.

“When a vehicle’s on fire, you can’t see inside at all. You can’t see anything,” said Henke.

“They didn’t actually realize until they did a search of the vehicle once the fire was out that there were people inside.”

The black 2011 Chevrolet Cruze was being moved to the police forensic crime scene unit for further examination.

Wozney said police know to whom the car was registered, but had not yet been able to find that person. They don’t know whether he or she was one of the three people found dead.

The car was not reported stolen.

Wozney said the car’s owner has a criminal history in Calgary, but he declined to elaborate.

He described the area where it was found as off the beaten track. The subdivision is so close to the edge of the city that a bright yellow canola field can be seen.

By mid-day Monday, yellow police tape surrounded the muddy construction site. Tarps were draped to obscure the view of the burned-out vehicle and there was a big black scorch mark on the outer wall of the building.

Police are urging people to contact them if they saw anything suspicious in the area or have any video footage.

“There are a lot of cameras in Calgary that point in a lot of different directions and we’re certainly hopeful that those cameras were able to pick up some images that would help as part of this investigation,” said Wozney.

Glea MacDonald, who lives in the area, said she’s used to being woken by noise from the construction site behind her house, but Monday morning was different.

She said she was roused from her sleep by sirens and then heard a loud bang. By the time she had a look out her back window, she saw smoke.

“We’re quite intrigued by this because it’s creepy. It’s right behind our house,” she said. “How could it happen in broad daylight?”

MacDonald’s father, Amador Tejada, said he was already awake when he heard sirens and several small bangs followed by a big one.

“It was only (after) the big bang that I became curious,” he said.

Nadia Muneer, whose back deck faces the fire site, said whatever happened is disturbing and scary. Her daughter was afraid to walk a few doors down to visit a friend.

“You don’t feel safe,” said Muneer. “You never imagined how three people died together in one car. What’s happened? So many things come in mind.”