Hours after the gutted frame of a vehicle was hauled off with charred human remains inside, shards of twisted metal and shattered glass lay at the site of a suspected homicide in west Hialeah.
Nearby business owners avoided questions from visitors looking for hints in the same mystery that Hialeah Police now face: Who did this and why?
Authorities suspect a drug deal gone bad, but plenty of questions remain after fire engulfed the car and whoever was in it at around 3 a.m. Monday outside a strip of warehouses at 8015 W. 21st Lane.
Forensics investigators will need dental records to identify the remains of what appears to be two people. Car parts will need to be examined for identification numbers. The license tag didn’t survive the fire.
The Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office received the car and remains Monday morning. Meanwhile, police continue to investigate and hope anyone with information comes forward.
“We’re hoping tips come in,” said Sgt. Eddie Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Hialeah Police.
He spoke of the brutality of the crime.
“It’s been a while since we’ve seen something like this,” he told the Miami Herald.
Hialeah Chief Sergio Velázquez told El Nuevo Herald that whoever set the car ablaze did it to destroy all evidence of a another crime that left two people dead in the car.
Fernando Plasencia, a 49-year-old car mechanic who works at a shop about 100 feet away from the site of the fire, said he didn’t notice anything unusual when he left work at around midnight the night before.
“It’s usually quiet around here,” he said. A 4 a.m. phone call from police woke him as they asked to see footage from a surveillance camera he has outside his shop.
The surveillance system was malfunctioning, he said, but cameras from another nearby business might have captured what happened.
Other business owners at the scene did not want to comment.
Aside from the mystery of what happened, the crime scene also created a problem for more than 500 schoolchildren during the early morning hours.
Because police had shut down the area during the initial investigation, a dozen school buses parked in an adjacent lot were not able to pull out to pick up their Hialeah and Miami Lakes students.
Two arriving drivers were able to get out on time for morning pickup, but other drivers were delayed in getting access to their buses.
Police are looking for tips from the public to help solve the case. Call Hialeah police at 305-687-2525.
El Nuevo Herald reporter Enrique Flor contributed to this report.