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Police believe they know identity of fatal fire victim

April 9th, 2019 by WCBC Radio

 A person who died Saturday while apparently setting poles on fire in an undeveloped area of Somerset Borough was a woman in her early 30s, police confirmed Monday. The Tribune Democrat reports authorities think they know the woman’s identity, but will await further confirmation.  “The police believe the preliminary findings of the autopsy and other investigative efforts have established the identity of the deceased,” Somerset police Chief Randy Cox said in a press release. “However, that identity will not be publicly released until it is forensically confirmed and the appropriate next-of-kin notifications have been made.” The autopsy was completed Monday afternoon, but cause and manner of death have not been announced by Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller. A charred body was discovered just before 5 p.m. Saturday near a pile of burning utility poles along a closed section of Musselman Avenue, police said.  Investigators on Sunday announced their “early theory” is that the person who died was using an accelerant to burn the poles and “somehow became engulfed in flames.”  An arson expert is assisting in the investigation, police said.  On Monday, Cox said police expect to close the case after consulting with Miller and District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser.  “At this time, the death does not appear to be the result of foul play or involve any other persons,” Cox said in the press release. 

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