Los Angeles

Victim ID'd After 25 Years, But Questions Still Surround 1992 LA Riots Death

Known to investigators as John Doe No. 80 for more than two decades, a man found dead in a burned out automotive store during the 1992 riots has been identified

A 25-year mystery stemming from the 1992 Los Angeles riots was solved when a body found in a torched auto parts store was finally identified by family members.

The body had been known as John Doe No. 80 -- one of the unidentified victims discovered after the riots, which began in late April after the acquittal of officers in the videotaped beating of Rodney King. In a news release Thursday, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that family members have identified the body as Miguel Armando Quiroz Ortiz.

He was 18 at the time of his death.

But the department is still seeking answers. The fire was intentionally set, so the case was considered a homicide. Ortiz's death was determined to be caused by "inhalation of smoke, soot and carbon monoxide." 

Officers recovered a shell casing near his body, but authorities have not determined whether it was linked to his death.

The remains were found May 2, 1992 in the charred rubble of a Pep Boys in the 5800 block of South Vermont Avenue, one of several buildings set on fire during days of violence. John Doe No. 80 was burned beyond recognition and investigators had no leads -- until April when the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office found a match for a fingerprint taken from the victim's left middle finger.

Authorities worked with the Mexican Consulate to track down family members, who provided investigators with a long-sought answer -- the identity of John Doe No. 80. A sister in Mexico positively identified him by name from a photograph provided by the coroner's office, which had information about him from a previous LAPD contact.  

His death was one of more than 20 riot-related homicides that were never solved, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported his identification by the coroner's office.

"This is one of the toughest cases," Det. Luis Rivera told the Los Angeles Times. "All we have is a single shell case near the body and we don’t know if it is connected to his death."

More than 60 people were killed during five days of looting, fires and violence in Los Angeles. 

In the new release Thursday, the LAPD said detectives are still seeking information from anyone who knew him or witnessed him in the Pep Boys. He also may have gone by the name Armando Hernandez. 

The department said family members told them Ortiz came to the United States in 1989 from Mexico for work. They attempted to locate Ortiz for several years, with no results.

Anyone with information about the case can call the LAPD at 877-527-3247.

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