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Russell Rathert, 50 [Updated]

Russell Rathert, a 50-year-old man, was found dead Tuesday, Aug. 31, in the 4600 block of Radford Avenue in Valley Village, according to Los Angeles County coroner's records.

Firefighters responding to a call at 3:07 a.m. found a car engulfed in flames on Radford Avenue under the 101 Freeway overpass, said Officer Bruce Borihanh, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.

They found Rathert's remains in the rear of the four-door sedan and contacted police, Borihanh said. The LAPD is classifying the death as “suspicious in nature.”

An initial report from the coroner listed Rathert's case as a homicide. Officials have since deferred a final determination. Results will not be available for another six to eight weeks.

The Times has contacted investigators for more information about the case and will provide additional details as soon as possible.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Los Angeles Police Department North Hollywood homicide detectives at (818) 623-4075.

[Update Feb. 28, 2011: Coroner's officials said the case is still deferred.]

[Update January 12, 2012: Coroner's officials have ruled the death as a homicide citing "affects of drugs and other unknown factors."]

-- My-Thuan Tran and Sarah Ardalani

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