Police officials in Whitfield County, Georgia, say the partially-burned body that was found in a wooded area last month has been identified as 26-year-old Luis Antonio Lopez of Nashville, Tennessee, who was reported missing.
WRBC TV reports that around 4:30 p.m. on January 10, 2017, a 13-year-old boy, walking home from school, discovered the burned body of a male in a wooded area near the dead end of Ellis road.
When emergency responders arrived at the scene, it was evident that the body had been set on fire but officials were uncertain how the man died, or why.
“We’re totally in the dark right now as to who did it,” said Sheriff Scott Chitwood with the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Department.
However, police believe the body had not been at the location for more than 24 hours before it was discovered.
The body was taken to the GBI Crime Lab for an autopsy
Dot Norrell has lived in the area for 35 years and “has never been this shaken up. It’s very quiet you can sleep 4 to 4 or 8 in the night to 8 the next day or whatever,” she said.
Norrell went on to say that she saw blue lights just outside her window but did not know what was happening until her husband informed her.
“He told me that it was a crime scene and I said what down here. I couldn’t believe it.”
A week after the burned body was discovered in a wooded area, Whitfield County police believe they had identified the body due to a missing persons report filed in another state.
The missing persons report was filed a day before the body was found partially burned.
Several weeks after the victim’s DNA was sent to the GBI Crime Lab, it was confirmed that the body found in a wooded area belonged to Lopez, who “were one of eleven arrested for their role in a high-grade marijuana grow and distribution network operated in Nashville by Cuban nationals.”
Police officials believe Lopez may have been murdered in Tennessee before the killer or killers transported his body to a wooded area in Georgia, where Lopez was found by a teenage boy.
However, police were reluctant to say whether or not Lopez’s death had anything to do with his previous arrest.
Relatives were devastated after learning Lopez – who dreamed of starting his own construction business and getting his life back on track – was found dead. His sister, Ana Lopez, said in a phone interview that her brother “was a very outgoing person, lovable, will give you the shirt on his back if you need it.”
She also apologized to the teen boy who found her brother’s remains.
“I don’t know how he could feel to find something so horrible, you know he’s only a little boy, he’s only 13. I can only imagine how he feels or how his mom or dad feels.”
It was reported that Lopez lost his mother at a very young age and the rest of his family is in Mexico.
Ricky Swiney, the spokesperson for the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office, stated that the investigation is only now just beginning.
“Investigators from the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have been traveling to the Nashville, Tennessee, area for the last few weeks and working with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and other Tennessee law enforcement officials on the case.
“Significant information has been developed during the investigation. Investigation to continue.”
Swiney stated that investigators are unsure why Lopez’s body was taken to Whitfield County, and no one has been arrested in connection with the murder.
The victim’s exact cause of death is not being released at this time.
An investigation is ongoing.
[Featured Image By Davidson County Sheriff’s Office ]