FORT WAYNE – Police have described the case of a man found dead in a burning car Wednesday as suspicious, but they have been tightlipped when releasing details, including what seems to be a vital one: The mans badly burned body, according to his daughter, was found in the trunk of the car.
He was burned to the point were they couldnt tell if he had been bound, Danisha Warren-Baker told The Journal Gazette, sharing what she had learned from investigators. We cant figure out who would do such a thing to my dad.
On Friday, the Allen County Coroners Office identified Warren-Bakers father, Steven Dwayne Turner, 51, as the man firefighters found in the car near Branstrator and Ferguson roads, several miles west of Fort Wayne International Airport. Turners cause of death is still undetermined, the coroners office said.
Cpl. Jeremy Tinkel said the Allen County Sheriffs Department continues to investigate the death, but he declined to release any new details Friday, including how the fire started and whether detectives suspect foul play.
Tinkel, a sheriffs department spokesman, said the case is not cut and dry. In this case, you dont know what it could be.
Tinkel and Sheriff Ken Fries said they could not confirm that Turners body was found in the trunk. All we can say, at this point, is that he was found in the vehicle, Fries said.
Like detectives, Turners family has unanswered questions. We dont really know what happened, Warren-Baker said. How did he get in the trunk?
Warren-Baker, 32, said the last time she spoke with her father was over the phone about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday but after that, he did not answer calls. She said police found no sign of a struggle in her fathers Fort Wayne home. She said her father had no enemies as far as she knew.
Firefighters were called to the scene of the car fire Wednesday shortly after 6 a.m. The car, which had traveled off the road to a line of woods, was engulfed in flames when Southwest Fire District crews arrived. After extinguishing the blaze, firefighters searched the car and found Turner inside, according to the sheriffs department.
To Warren-Baker, its a mystery as to why her father was in that part of the county, an area he does not frequent. The car that burned was a Pontiac Bonneville he shared with his fiancée, his daughter said.
Warren-Baker said police have led her to believe that they suspect her fathers death may have been drug-related. She said that to her knowledge, he was not involved with drugs or the violence that can accompany them.
My dad, you know, he was a nice guy, a helper, a giver, she said. He was a storyteller. He was funny. He liked to make people laugh.
Turners criminal record in Allen County consists of more than a dozen misdemeanors and infractions that are mostly driving-related. Twice in 2010, he was charged with a felony count of operating a vehicle as a habitual traffic violator. In both cases, his convictions were reduced to misdemeanors, court records show. Those two charges were his most serious offenses.
Warren-Baker said her father grew up in Fort Wayne and was a member of True Love Baptist Church. At the time of his death, he was receiving disability payments because of an ailing heart and poor hearing, she said. He had five children and 11 grandchildren.
He is truly going to be missed, his daughter said. I ask you guys to just pray for our family.