ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — An investigation is underway in St. Petersburg on Monday after officers say a body was found in the trunk of a burning car parked on a popular stretch of the Pinellas Trail, which winds through Clam Bayou.
According to St. Pete Fire Rescue spokesperson Steve Lawrence, a bicyclist discovered the car fully engulfed in flames just after 6 a.m.
St. Pete Fire Rescue had troubling accessing the vehicle, which was on a narrown and windy portion of the Pinellas Trail behind the Twin Brooks Golf Course near 22nd Avenue South and 41st Street South.
By the time firefighters could access the vehicle, the fire had already burnt out, according to police detectives.
The body was found in the trunk of the car. Police said on Tuesday it was that of an adult male.
Officers believe someone drove the car along the twisty path, then set the car on fire. They're unsure how the person left the scene and whether they walked or ran from the fire or hopped into another car and sped off.
Michelle Unterberger, who lives in nearby Gulfport, walks the trail often.
“It’s weird. People walk here, they bike here, they skate here," she said in disbelief. "It’s more weird than I can imagine. We’ve never felt uncomfortable. We’ve always felt safe here."
Gene Oliver, who lives in St. Petersburg, and bikes the trail often agrees.
“It’s disturbing because I bike here four days a week. It's a narrow and windy trail. Very narrow and windy. It's good for a bicycle but a car would have to be awfully careful to get through," he said.
St. Petersburg Police detectives are working to find nearby surveillance video or witnesses that may have seen the driver navigating the pedestrian path before sunrise.
Anyone with information is asked to call the department's non-emergency line at 893-7780.
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