Burned body found in vehicle near Bittern Bottoms Conservation Area in Cass County

CASS COUNTY, Mo. - Authorities in Cass County found a burned body in a vehicle partially submerged in the Bittern Bottoms Conservation Area.

Chuck Patterson lives nearby and saw the vehicle sticking out of the marsh on his way into town. He turned around to help, thinking it might have been a friend stuck in the mud.

"I got about half-way up the path and realized it was a burned out vehicle." Patterson then called authorities who made their own gruesome discovery when they pulled the car out, the badly burned body.

"I'm very thankful to the good Lord that I didn't see the body," said Patterson.

Deputies were removing the vehicle around 1 p.m. when they found the body. Investigators are still working to identify the person. The victim is so badly burned, investigators couldn't immediately distinguish their gender.

The Kansas City Crime Lab has been called to assist investigators in determining how the person in the vehicle died.

Patterson's wife woke up before dawn to what she thought were the sounds of gunshots. After seeing shattered glass all around the car, Patterson believes that noise may have been the gas tank exploding. "The steering wheel was melted," he said. "The dash was melted."

Investigators are trying to salvage clues, but many were destroyed by the fire. The license plate was found but the VIN melted away too.

Stay tuned to KSHB.com for more details as they become available.

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