LORDSTOWN - Firefighters called Tuesday afternoon to put out a car fire found something more disturbing - a body.
Lordstown police Chief Brent Milhoan said a passing motorist called about 1:15 p.m. after spotting a burning vehicle in a wooded area near a cell tower on the north side of Industrial Trace.
The vehicle was fully engulfed when authorities arrived.
A burned-out car is towed away Tuesday along Industrial Trace in Lordstown. An unidentified body was found in the vehicle, and an autopsy is planned for today.
"Initially they thought they were responding to a car fire," Milhoan said. "It was only after they were putting the fire out they realized there was a body inside."
Investigators had not identified the body as of Tuesday night. The investigation is being treated as a homicide, Lordstown police Detective Chris Bordonardo said. The Trumbull County Homicide Task Force and the state Fire Marshal's Office also were called.
Milhoan declined to elaborate on where in the vehicle the body had been located. He said investigators were not able to identify the body or determine the individual's age or gender. He said he expected the Trumbull County Coroner's Office to perform an autopsy today.
"We'll know more once that's done," he said. "Right now we really don't know a whole lot. There are a lot of unanswered questions."
It was not clear whether the car had license plates. Bordonardo declined to give the make and model of car, whether the car had been traced to an owner, or other information. Like the chief, he said more answers will come as the investigation continues.
Investigators spent several hours examining the area, including the entrance of the access road. Just after 5 p.m., the car was taken away on a flatbed. The back of the vehicle was partially covered with a blue tarp.
Industrial Trace - which runs between Lyntz Townline Road and Muth Road just north of the General Motors Lordstown Complex - is heavily wooded and has very few buildings on it.