Burning Body Found Near Berkeley Shore

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday December 30, 2008 - 10:40:00 AM

Berkeley police and firefighters rushed to the shoreline early Tuesday morning, where they discovered a body burning inside a container. 

The grisly scene was at the Virginia Gate to East Shore Park and was discovered by passersby, who saw the flames and called 911. 

Because the site was located within the East Bay Regional Park District, jurisdiction was assigned to the park district police force, said park police Capt. Mark Ruppenthal. 

“All I can tell you is that we have a body that was set on fire in a container. We’re still trying to figure out what we have,” he said later Tuesday morning. “At this point I cannot tell you the age, race or even the sex of the victim.” 

Officer Andrew Frankel of the Berkeley Police said BPD and firefighters initially responded to the scene, then called the park police when jurisdiction was determined. 

“We immediately sent investigators and patrol officers, and I responded as well,” said Capt. Ruppenthal. “Berkeley police and firefighters were on scene at the time I arrived and they transferred the scene to us.” 

By 10 a.m. park police crime scene investigators were preparing to examine the site for evidence, and a coroner’s van was waiting nearby to take the body away once investigators had finished their initial examination of the remains. 

Capt. Ruppenthal said witnesses did not have a description of any suspects in the crime, and said detectives were trying to determine the ownership of a bicycle found nearby. 

He said that the body had been set alight “with some sort of accelerant, and we’re trying to figure out just what it was.”