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BODY FOUND IN BURNING TAXI BELIEVED TO BE A CASE OF HOMICIDE.

Byline: Greg Botonis Staff Writer

PALMDALE - A charred body was found in a burning taxicab parked behind a Palmdale church early Thursday in the Antelope Valley's second homicide of the year.

Firefighters responded to a report of a vehicle fire about 1 a.m. in the parking lot of the Whosoever Will Receive Abundant Life Christian Fellowship Church in the 37700 block of Palm Vista Avenue.

Authorities said the cab is owned by United Independent Taxi, which reported a cab and driver missing. Company owners did not return phone calls.

Officials said they believe the body to be that of a woman, but that it was so badly burned they could not confirm the sex, ethnicity or age.

``All we know at this point is that a badly burned human body was found in the car and as of now we are treating this as a homicide,'' sheriff's homicide Detective Mike Scott said.

A witness told deputies she heard three loud bangs, ``like gunshots,'' between 11 and 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, Scott said.

``The motive could have been robbery or something much more involved, said Scott. ``At this point we just can't say.''

The parking lot where the vehicle was found borders the playground of Tumbleweed School, which was closed so students would not see the vehicle or body.

The incident comes less than a month after On The Go and Two Cities cab companies argued with Lancaster officials over a new licensing and inspection ordinance.

Drivers from both companies picketed City Hall and accused city officials of catering to United Independent Taxi, which is the only cab company licensed to transport passengers in Lancaster.

Investigators stated they were aware of the dispute and that nothing will be ruled out as part of their investigation.

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Photo: (color) Authorities investigate a charred taxi where a body was found Thursday in a Palmdale church parking lot.

Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 7, 2000
Words:322
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