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Police ID Body from Last Week's Burning Car

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Police today identified a 50-year-old man as the deceased person discovered inside a burning car under the 101 Freeway last week. But until the coroner's office receives the final toxicology report, the final cause of death for Russell Rathert of Van Nuys is listed as undetermined.

"During the initial autopsy examination, no injuries were found on Mr. Rathert and evidence indicated he was deceased prior to the fire," police said in a statement today. Detectives are not handling the incident as a criminal homicide pending the coroner's cause of death report.

Rathert was found inside a burning car during the early morning hours of August 31st. The vehicle was parked on Radford Street under the 101 Freeway, which is the boundary between Studio City and Valley Village. Later that morning the bomb squad was called and the freeway was shut down because suspicious wires were sticking out from beneath his body. It later thought that the wires were part of an incendiary device that lit the fire.