Park Death Ruled a Suicide
Firefighters make grisly discovery in burning
By Carol Dimmick
Police have identified
the body found in a suspicious car fire in Golden Gate
Park as that of Rodney De La Cruz, 26, and believe that
his death was a suicide.
Cruz's body was found
in the front seat of his family's burned-out 2004 Volvo
in the early morning of July 29 on John F. Kennedy Drive
by firefighters responding to a 911 call.
The red four-door
sedan was engulfed in flames when Engine Company 34
arrived at the scene. Cruz's body was not discovered
until after firefighters extinguished fire.
Police were able to
identify Cruz from dental records after officers traced
the car to the home of his parents in the Ingleside
In initial reports
from the scene, a second car was discovered overturned
and abandoned several hundred yards up JFK Drive, which
police later determined was not linked to Cruz's death.
Michael Mahoney said the second car was traveling toward
Cruz and overturned as a result of an accident before
it reached the scene. Mahoney said the car's owner took
public transportation home after he was unable to get
The spectacular nature
of the fire itself led police to believe that Cruz's
death was a suicide. Preliminary indications are that
an incendiary device that police believe was self-ignited
started the fire.
Mahoney said that
Cruz, who was unemployed at the time of his death, was
living at home and was an aspiring writer. Family members
say they had no indication that Cruz was depressed.
The case is expected to remain open until a final arson
report is completed.