One of two people found dead in an explosive SUV fire Tuesday in Fort Worth was identified Wednesday.
The victim was John Hernandez, 34, no address listed, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner's office website, which says he died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head, chest and abdomen.
The bodies of Hernandez and another victim were found in the back of a burning Cadillac Escalade on Tuesday night in east Fort Worth. At the site Wednesday, a vacant lot at 5736 Wilbarger St. near East Loop 820, homicide investigators finished processing the scene and had the incinerated vehicle hauled away.
Jerron McAfee, who lives a block north of Wilbarger, said he could see the fire from the road and heard the loud pops of tires just before firefighters arrived.
“We turned onto Wilbarger, and we saw smoke coming out of the trees,” said McAfee, 23. “And then it started exploding. ‘Boom, boom, boom.’ The flames were high.”
McAfee said the fire made the neighborhood smoky.
Just before 6 p.m. Tuesday, firefighters saw the smoke billowing from the secluded area, which is about 200 yards off the road, between Wilbarger Street and the southwest bank of Lake Arlington.
A similar incident happened about 1 1/2 miles from the location last month.
The body of Brittany “Pearl” Chappell, 30, was found Sept. 28 after a patrol officer saw a grass fire in a remote spot near the western edge of Lake Arlington in the 3500 block of South Cravens Road.
On Friday a fourth suspect was arrested in connection with the beating, suffocating and burning of Chappell, a Bedford mother who was reported missing Oct. 9.
One of the suspects told police that Chappell was wrapped in a carpet and taken to the remote area via a tan SUV and burned after she was beaten and suffocated.
Police did not indicate that Chappell’s death and the incident Tuesday were connected.
“It’s sad people are doing this,” McAfee said. “It’s not that bad here, but it’s bringing a bad name to our neighborhood.”
The two bodies on Tuesday were “fully engulfed in flames,” so badly charred that investigators could not tell their ages or genders at the time, police Sgt. J.M. Dunn said.
“All we could tell about the bodies is that they do appear to be human,” Dunn said.
They were found in the rear of the SUV where the last row of seats should be, he said.
It was parked in a brushy spot that could only be accessed by driving over a fence to the left of a locked gate, police said. The fence appeared trampled Wednesday, and a police officer guarded the gate, as investigators drove through.
It did not appear that the SUV crashed before the fire, Dunn said. The Fort Worth Fire Department referred questions to police Wednesday when asked about the cause of the fire.
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7684
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792