Police Release Video Footage of Two POI in Burned Car Case

VIDEO Inside: "It's extremely important"

Brendan Keany
September 19, 2019 - 6:44 pm

BUFFALO (WBEN) - In an extremely complex case in which a burned car was found Monday with possible human remains inside, the Buffalo Police Department called a Thursday afternoon press conference to release video footage of incidents they believe occur before and after the vehicle being lit on fire.

Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo started from the beginning in his recount of the story:

On Monday morning, at approximately 8 a.m., Buffalo Police officers were called to an address on Potomac because of a found child, and it was determined that the child was approximately 3 years old. From there, police set up a canvas in an attempt to locate the child's parents.

However, the peculiar part of the case was that no calls had been made to police regarding a missing child. Child Protective Services was then contacted, and the child was turned over to them.

At roughly 6 p.m. Monday, Buffalo Police and Fire received a call of a burned out car located in the 100 block of Tonawanda Street behind a warehouse facility, so the vehicle was not visible from the street or any of the surrounding streets in the neighborhood. Upon arrival, it appeared that human remains were inside of the vehicle.

Soon after, the police department was contacted by two grandmothers from Florida who had seen the department's Facebook page and the reports about their missing grandson. They were unsure on how the child ended up in Buffalo, and they said he was last seen on Saturday near Orlando. The grandmothers then flew up to Buffalo in an effort to positively identify the child.

The department then started to gather information on the type of vehicle that the parents and a "third party" drove in.

"When we found the burned out vehicle, I can't stress enough that the vehicle was completely incinerated," said Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo. "The contents inside the vehicle were nothing more than ashes."

With the help of a number of law enforcement agencies, Rinaldo says they can positively identify that vehicle as being the vehicle that the family rented and drove to Buffalo in.

"It's our understanding that four individuals, the mother, the father, the child and a third person who's friends of the family drove here...," he said. "We have positively confirmed that there were two bodies inside of that vehicle."

Police have not yet been able to identify whose remains are in the car, and Rinaldo added that it could take as long as four weeks to do so. As of now, this remains a missing person investigation, as law enforcement is still looking for the three individuals, but it is also considered a homicide investigation of two individuals.

However, they were able to obtain some video footage of the events leading up to and following the incident.

"The video was taken Monday morning, early morning hours and is going to show two people of interest in this investigation," said Rinaldo.

View the footage below:

The first video shows an individual who is walking back toward the area where the burned vehicle was found.

"The one thing to take notice in that video is that the individual appears to have either dreads or long hair," said Rinaldo. "As you will see in the next video, that is not hair, that is some type of shirt over their head."

The next video shows two individuals and the child leaving the area of the burned vehicle.

The vehicle arrives at 2:51 a.m. on Monday, and the vehicle is on fire at 3:01 a.m.

The next video simply enhances the second video to give a better look at the individual who was seen walking back toward the vehicle in the first video.

"The thing I'd like to draw your attention to is as he's placing the clothing-type object on his head, you can see in the video at least one, possibly two gas cans, one of which is inside of a plastic bag."

Rinaldo was asked how important this footage could turn out to be in solving the case.

"It's extremely important," he responded. "It gives us the timeline of when the fire started; it gives us a timeline of how the child was not inside the vehicle; it gives us exactly two people of interest that were present when this car started on fire, so it's extremely important."

He also added that it's essential to not draw any immediate conclusions regarding the details of this case because nobody's remains have been positively identified.

"There's reason to believe that all three are possibly still alive because we have not identified who's in the vehicle," he said. "Potentially, everyone is still alive; potentially, one person's alive - we just don't know yet."

Rinaldo is asking anybody with any information about the two individuals to contact the confidential tip line at (716) 847-2255 or to directly contact the homicide unit at (716) 851-4444.

Listen to the full press conference below:

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