JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A body was found Monday evening at the scene of a vehicle fire on Jacksonville’s Northside, authorities said.
Fire crews answering a call about a vehicle fire near Sisson Drive and Main Street about 7:30 p.m. found a Ford sport-utility vehicle engulfed in flames, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Crews discovered a body inside the vehicle once the fire was out.
Homicide investigators are awaiting an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Though police have yet to positively identify the person inside the SUV, multiple people who visited the scene Tuesday said they fear the remains belong to 37-year-old Andre James.
Rachelle Williams and Anquinette Payne, who identified themselves as James’ cousins, walked into the woods about 100 yards away from the road to survey the scene. All that remained after the sun rose were ashes and the charred outline of the vehicle that burned.
“It’s Christmas Eve,” Payne told News4Jax. “That’s a hard pill to swallow for my family.”
Williams, who described James as lovable and dependable, said there is no reason her cousin would have been out in such a remote area -- not far from where the remains of two women were dumped five years ago. She is clinging to hope that her family is mistaken.
“I’m still having high hopes that it isn’t him once the body is identified,” Williams said.
James was recently released from prison after serving time for drug charges. Records show he cooperated with investigators in several cases.
“Whoever did this to him, they knew exactly who he was,” Payne said. “He knew them.”
The case is under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office and the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Those with information about this case are asked to contact JSO by calling 904-630-0500 or via email at JSOCrimeTips@JaxSheriff.org.