Stolen hearse found after pursuit on 110 Freeway in LA

ByABC7.com staff via KABC logo
Thursday, February 27, 2020
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A stolen hearse with a body inside was found after it crashed during a pursuit on the 110 Freeway Thursday.

ARCADIA, Calif. -- A stolen hearse with a body inside was found after it crashed during a pursuit on a freeway in Los Angeles Thursday morning.

The chase began around 7:35 a.m. after a good Samaritan called police to report the stolen vehicle, a black Lincoln Navigator that belongs to an Arcadia mortuary. The pursuit ended about 15 minutes later after the three-vehicle collision on the 110 Freeway near Vernon Avenue, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Police said a casket and body were found inside the vehicle after the chase.

A suspect was in custody, identified as 25-year-old James Juarez, for felony grand theft auto. He was being held on $35,000 bail.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies began searching for the hearse after it was stolen from outside St. Anthony's Church on Rosemead Boulevard in Pasadena just after 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church was holding a prayer service called a Trisagion Wednesday evening, often held the night before a funeral in the Greek Orthodox tradition. A funeral was scheduled for the following morning.

Officials, however, say the woman's body that was stolen was not associated with the service, but was in a mortuary vehicle that happened to be stopping by the church at the same time. The mortuary attendant was bringing a body inside the church, while another was in the vehicle that was left parked outside.

It is believed the key was left in the ignition of the SUV.