Forensics may reveal unanswered questions in death - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Forensics may reveal unanswered questions in death investigation

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The medical examiner is scheduling an autopsy this week on a body found in the trunk of a missing persons car.

Gianni Belvedere went missing when his brother Salvatore and fiancé Ilona Flint were gunned down in the parking lot outside of Macy's in Mission Valley December 24, 2013.

A forensic pathologist spoke to CBS News 8 about the evidence investigators need for the death investigation and double murders.

On Friday, an employee at a strip mall in Riverside called police about a suspicious odor coming from a car backed in a parking space in the lot.

Dispatch: "It's going to be a green Toyota Camry with a front Utah plate … It was associated with a missing persons."

The medical examiner would not release the identity of the body, but says it's a 24-year-old male, which is the same age as Gianni.

The coroner ruled the death as a homicide but there could be other possibilities.

"I would not rule out suicide, I would not rule out suicide," said Dr. Cyril Wecht.

Wecht is a well-known forensic pathologist who says the investigation will hinge on the condition of the remains.

"You have to find out how badly decomposed the body was," continued Wecht.

The forensic pathologist also says he's studied cases where someone is capable of taking their own life in the trunk of a car, "He could have been killed but why would anyone then kill him and now bring the car there? What would be the purpose of that?"

Witnesses in Riverside say the car could have been there a week-and-a-half to as few as two days.

"If he's only been dead for two days or a week that decomposition would not be that far advanced. It would be bloated, gashes, extensions, discolored but it won't be totally decomposed," said Wecht.

Investigators say in the 24 days since Salvator and Ilona's murders in Mission Valley, Gianni's cell phone and credit cards had not been used.

If the body had been there for that long, Dr. Wecht says many clues would deteriorate, "If he has not been shot, stabbed or beaten and toxicology is negative it is going to be very difficult to determine cause of death because decomposition."

Warmer temperatures are known to speed up body decomposition and the temperatures in Riverside in late December were in the 70's and 80's. In the last week, temperatures in that area were in the low to mid 80's.

The Riverside Police Department is handling the death investigation and San Diego Police detectives are handling the double murder investigation.

In Riverside, anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Rick Wheeler at (951) 353-7134 or Detective Rick Cobb at (951) 353-7135.

You can reach the San Diego Police Department's Homicide Unit at 619-531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

Although the Riverside County coroner reports the body is that of a 24-year-old man, it's unclear if a wallet or identification was found on the body or in the car.

Gianni's family says they do not have a statement and would appreciate privacy at this time. They say they have not been told who the body is in Gianni's car.

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