Five months have passed since firefighters extinguished a car fire and found the horrifically burned body of Steven Dwayne Turner inside the vehicle.
Allen County police have never publicly discussed details of the case, though Turner’s daughter, Danisha Warren-Baker, told The Journal Gazette her father’s body was found in the trunk of the car.
But Turner is not on the record-tying list of 44 homicide victims in Fort Wayne in 2013. His Aug. 7 death has never been ruled a homicide.
A spokeswoman for the Allen County Coroner’s Office explained in an email exchange Thursday that no determination has yet been made about how Turner died.
We are still waiting on a ruling from the pathologist who performed the autopsy, wrote Deputy Coroner Patt Kite. The pathologist needs to confer with a colleague before reaching a conclusion, Kite explained, and unfortunately, their schedules have not been compatible for a meeting – either he has been gone or she has been away. I know that she is off next week again.
I don’t dictate to the physicians, Kite said in a subsequent phone conversation.
Turner’s blazing car was found near Branstrator and Ferguson roads, west of Fort Wayne International Airport. In August, Warren-Baker told The Journal Gazette that it was a mystery why Turner was even in that part of the county.
She also said that police told her his death might have been drug-related but that as far as she knew, he was never involved with drugs or violence.
It’s a complicated case, Kite said, adding that it is not really unusual for a cause-of-death investigation to take this long – those cases just haven’t received the media attention this one has.
Families want answers, and it’s sad for them, (but) we cannot give them right away, Kite said.
Kite said the lack of a coroner’s ruling hasn’t deterred the Allen County Police Department’s investigation, which is ongoing.
Believe me, Kite wrote Thursday, our office would like to get this one finalized as much as anybody out there, but we need to wait for the pathologist to give us her final ruling.
Our special section Sunday was an effort to give faces and names and stories to the tragic, record-tying parade of homicide victims in 2013. Many of those cases haven’t been solved.
This is a reminder that there is another face, and another name – a father of five and grandfather of 11 whose case hasn’t even been officially declared a homicide yet.
The dog days of August are way over. The leaves have fallen, the holidays have come and gone and the snow has fallen. And still there is no answer to the simple question: How did Steven Dwayne Turner die?