Forest Park Police Chief Thomas Aftanas said July 14 that his department is treating the case of unidentified human remains found inside an abandoned vehicle in the 1000 block of Lathrop Avenue on June 29 as a homicide investigation.

No official designation has been made, however, Aftanas said, because his department has not determined a cause of death. There are no suspects at this point. Forest Park police are working with the West Suburban Major Crimes Task Force on the case.

“This is a possible homicide. At no time did I say it is definitely a homicide,” Aftanas said. “Until we make identification [on the body], we’re kind of stuck right now. We know very little.”

Trauma to a body can trigger homicide investigations, but given the “severely decomposed” human remains, that will be difficult, Aftanas said.

He said it will be at least 30 days before the Cook County Medical Examiner has results from dental records. A spokesperson for the county said in a July 13 email the investigation is ongoing.

As reported by the Review, some residents on the 1000 block of Lathrop Avenue found what was later determined to be human remains in a black plastic garbage can placed on the back seat of a car parked on their property around 8 p.m. on June 29.

Aftanas did confirm the remains are from a single human but did not know the age or sex.

The residents who found the remains had been renting a parking space to another man. That man, Aftanas said, has been dead for some time, but the car remained on the resident’s property. Aftanas said the car had been parked there for at least a year.

Aftanas said he has “no knowledge” of the car owner’s death, but he did confirm the car owner’s death did not take place in Forest Park. The remains found in the car are not those of the owner.  

On June 29, the residents decided to remove the car from their property. It had a tarp over it.

They removed the tarp and broke one of the windows to get inside. Then, they saw a garbage can in the backseat. After taking the garbage can out of the car, they found the human remains and called the police.