A rented 2015 Kia Soul was found Sunday, burned with two bodies in the back seat, in a wooded area behind an unoccupied house in rural Crawford County.
A deputy was responding to an unrelated emergency about 9:30 a.m. when he saw smoke and found the car ablaze behind the home in the 4900 block of Marshall Mill Road, about four miles south of U.S. 80 near Knoxville and Girl Scout roads, according to a Monday release from the GBI.
“The bodies were burned pretty extensively” and had not been identified by late Monday, said J.T. Ricketson, the agent in charge of the GBI’s Perry field office.
Autopsies may not be performed until Wednesday, due to a backlog at the Macon crime lab.
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Ricketson said agents hope the autopsies will show if the people in the car were alive when the car was burned and what caused their deaths.
Agents spent much of Monday tracking down leads in Houston, Peach and Macon counties. They’ve talked with the man who rented the car from an Enterprise Rent-A-Car lot in Warner Robins.
The renter loaned the car to multiple people. Agents are trying to account for those people, Ricketson said. Agents also are checking missing-persons reports.
What’s left of the burned car has been combed for clues.
Ricketson said the case hasn’t been classified as a homicide. Instead, agents are investigating the case as an unknown death until they have more information.
The burning Kia was found 100 yards or so behind a brick-columned farmhouse that dates to the Civil War.
The car was at the edge of a forest there, just west of Marshall Mill, which sits beyond woods and pastureland from the Echeconnee Creek and the Bibb County line off to the east.
The vehicle “was actually driven into the wood line,” Crawford County Sheriff Lewis Walker said Monday.
The Telegraph’s tries to reach the homeowner -- who has an Atlanta-area address -- were unsuccessful.
Walker said he doesn’t think the property owner was involved in the matter. He said it appears the place may have just been a secluded spot, chosen perhaps for its out-of-the-way location. The sparsely populated area is roughly equidistant from Macon, Byron and Roberta.
“A lot of times what happens, someone will be just riding and then see somewhere and kind of just pull in and maybe get rid of what they’re trying to get rid of at that site,” the sheriff said.
“I just felt that they saw an opportunity to pull in there and maybe just do what they did there.”
He declined to speculate on what may have happened.
“We’re still fresh into the investigation,” Walker said. “We’re trying now to go with some leads we do have and determine what we are dealing with. ... When we can release a little bit more, we will.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the GBI’s Perry field office at 987-4545 or the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office at 836-3116.
Telegraph writer Joe Kovac Jr. contributed to this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398 or find her on Twitter@awomackmacon.