The autopsy of a man who had beenburned beyond recognition revealed that he died of a gunshot wound to the mouth.
On May 29th, staff at Death Valley National Park found the badly burned remains of a man in a wash about three miles north of the Wildrose Campground, about a half mile from where an unoccupied rental vehicle had been found on May 22. Inyo Detective Jeff Hollowell described the remains as burned beyond recognition.
Deputy Inyo Coroner Jeff Mullenhour has positively identified the body as that of 64-year-old Alexander Wong from Orange County. The cause of death was found to be a gunshot wound to the mouth. Whether this is a murder or suicide was not determined by the Coroner, who says that he made no determination as to mode or manner of death with the burned body.
The door remains open for investigators to find this death to be a homicide, but when we spoke to Death Valley National Park Spokesman Terry Baldino, he reported that the death may be a suicide and the burning an accident. Baldino says that it appeared the man was wrapped in a blanket with lit candles around him, possibly like a ceremony of sorts. If the man did indeed shoot himself, he could have rolled into contact with the candles.