More tests will be done on the two bodies discovered Tuesday evening.
YOUNGSTOWN — Police are trying to determine who is responsible for the deaths of two young men found in a torched car near the Mahoning River.
Jaron L. Roland, 20, of Fairmont Avenue and Darry B. Woods-Burt Jr., 19, of the city’s North Side, were found inside a burning car on West Avenue in the early evening hours Tuesday.
Youngstown Police Capt. Kenneth Centorame said the two men do not appear to be related, but did know each other.
According to police, a 42-year-old Canfield man went to the area of the Mahoning River near West Avenue at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday to meet a friend and do some fishing. The man noticed a late-model car near the river but did not initially pay any close attention.
After about 15 minutes of sitting near the lake, the man noticed the car had flames coming from the driver’s side door. The man, reports said, looked inside the car but did not see anything because of the smoke.
Youngstown firefighters responded at 6:52 p.m. and after extinguishing the fire found the body of the first man whose legs, feet and arms had been bound with duct tape.
The man also had a bag placed over his head also sealed with duct tape.
Police were called and began to go through the car when officers found the second body.
The second man’s hands, feet and legs had also been bound with duct tape and a sealed bag placed over his head.
The car was determined to have been a black 2007 Dodge Caliber that had been rented from the Enterprise rental agency on Rayen Avenue.
Dr. David Ohr, medical examiner for the Mahoning County Coroner’s office, said the car and scene by the lake did yield a few surprises for those investigating the situation.
“What surprised me at the scene was with two bodies in a burned car like this, you would expect to see blood. There was no blood,” he said.
Ohr said neither stab wounds nor bullet wounds could be found on either of the men. Burns were found on the men, but Ohr said those wounds did not cause their deaths.
Ohr said more tests will be done on the two bodies, but a preliminary cause of death has been established.
“My impression at this point and time is that these two boys were smothered to death,” he said. “I believe this is a homicide and they died by suffocation.”