Victim of fatal June car fire identified

CLEON TWP. — A 28-year-old Hispanic man has been identified as the victim in a fatal car fire that occurred on June 16 on M-115 in Cleon Township.

The Manistee County Sheriff’s Office has determined that Benito Cervantes-Sanchez was a seasonal worker with relatives living in the southeast Michigan area. His family believes he was looking for work in the Manistee County area and that he traveled to Northern Michigan on June 15 from Plant City, Fla.

The sheriff’s office was called to the scene at 2:30 a.m. on June 16 on M-115, where deputies found Cervantes-Sanchez deceased in the driver’s seat of the vehicle and burned beyond recognition.

In the early morning hours, a passerby reported the car, a 1999 Cadillac sedan, on fire and fully engulfed in flames. The Cleon Township Fire Department responded and extinguished the blaze.

Upon investigation, detectives from the Michigan State Police Fire Marshall’s Division found the fire started in the passenger area of the car. No accelerants were found. The cause of the fire is undetermined.

An autopsy was performed by Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. The results revealed no blunt trauma to the body, and no indication of foul play. Cervantes-Sanchez had a high blood alcohol content and traces of marijuana in his blood.

Cervantes-Sanchez was identified through DNA samples of decease family members, which were analyzed by the University of North Texas Health and Science Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

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