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Tow-truck driver finds body in trunk of car in Azusa; family ID's body

October 31, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Workers at a tow truck yard in Azusa found a woman's body in the trunk of a car, authorities said.

The discovery was made Tuesday evening at Cities Towing on the 1000 block of West Gladstone Street. The red Honda Accord in which the body was found had been towed from Encanto, a remote equestrian center in Duarte.

Family members saw a news report about the body found at the Duarte equestrian property and had a hunch it may be their mother.

"He called and talked with an investigator and he verified the license plate and the next thing you know this is where we're at," said son Marco Ibarra.

Ibarra and his brother, Diego Ibarra, identified the woman as 64-year-old Gloria Darland. Sheriff's investigators say her red Honda Accord was found parked down a dusty road in Duarte. It was towed to an Azusa impound lot, where workers found her naked body in the trunk.

Family members say Darland was staying at a rehab facility and that they hadn't heard from her in several days.

"She was living at the sober living house. and the last couple times we went it was just mayhem and chaos at that place," Marco Ibarra said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's detectives brought in a scent dog Wednesday afternoon. Investigators wouldn't talk about the case, but the dog appeared to lead them on a path away from where Darland's car was found, and toward a wash where locals say a large number of homeless have set up an encampment.

Family members say Darland suffered from a self-medication problem and had been depressed recently. But they believe her death is tied to questionable people she hung out with.

"You can tell right away they were the wrong people," said Marco Ibarra.

The cause of death remains unknown. An autopsy is planned for Friday or Saturday.

The property manager said workers at the equestrian center discovered the vehicle on a dirt road. They said personal belongings were scattered outside the car and that it wasn't the first time the Honda had been on the property.

A woman in her 50s or 60s, according to the manager, would park at the equestrian center at night and sleep in her vehicle. Detectives have not released the identity of the woman, but they said she is the registered owner of the car.

The tow-truck driver was doing a routine inspection of the vehicle when he made the gruesome discovery.

"I didn't think it was real. They said there was a dead body in the trunk. I thought they were joking around," said Cities Towing worker Debi Kolath. "They just said the lady was deceased and that she was naked in the trunk of the car."

Anyone with information was asked to call Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.


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