Neighbors fear worst after body pulled from burned van

Police haven't figured out who was found inside a burned van on the city's east side or why, but neighbors believe they've put the pieces together.

- A neighborhood on Detroit's east side is reeling after a body was found inside of a torched van Friday morning.

Neighbors believe they know who the victim is but they don't know why he would have been targeted.

Neighbors woke up Friday and it was like any other - until they learned the news: A body had been found inside of a charred van on Medbury. News quickly spread through the neighborhood about who may have been inside.

"She said when was the last time you've seen Ralph's van. I said last week sometime that's when it registered he has a blue Astro van," Shirley Mealy said.

Detroit police and fire crews discovered the burning 1997 Chevy Astro van early Friday morning.

They pulled a body from the backseat that was burned beyond recognition. The van was registered to a young woman on Washburn who believes her husband, known as Ralph, may have been inside.

She was too distraught to speak but neighbors were there for her.

"Oh this gets me. This gets me. He's such a sweetheart." Annie Truss said.

Truss and others consoled his wife and describe the husband and father of three as honest and hardworking.

They said he was regularly seen outside with his family and always helped keep the neighborhood clean.
Detroit police say homicide is investigating but are unsure of how this happened or who the person is found inside.

"Somebody's got to know something but I don't know who around here would be that dirty," Truss said
Neighbors say they feel helpless as they wait for information.

"Oh I pray to god it's not him. They got three little kids over there. I pray," Truss said.

"It's bad when you lose someone violently, what can you do but pray, so that's what I'm going to do," Mealy said.

Right now, the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office says the body could be identified as early as Saturday with dental records but the investigation of what exactly happened is just beginning. Anyone with information is urged to call police.


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