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Medical examiner identifies person who was found dead in burnt car

MCMEO identified the victim as 21-year-old Jenna Reichartz
MCMEO identified 21-year-old Jenna Reichartz as the person who died Sunday morning in a vehicle fire.
Posted at 8:58 PM, Jan 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 09:27:43-05

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office (MCMEO) identified 21-year-old Jenna Reichartz as the person who died Sunday morning in a vehicle fire.

A city tow lot worker found human remains in a burnt vehicle that crews had extinguished earlier that morning.

MCMEO has not yet released a cause of death.

The Milwaukee Fire Department released a statement on Monday, announcing that human remains were found inside a burnt vehicle near 77th and Green Tree on Sunday.

Milwaukee firefighters were dispatched to a vehicle fire at 6829 North 76th Street on Sunday around 5:40 a.m., where they found a fully engulfed vehicle and flames spreading to a one-story vacant rehabilitation center.

Once extinguished, around 6:11 a.m., the vehicle was towed to the Milwaukee tow lot at 3800 West Lincoln Ave., the fire department said. Around 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, over three hours after crews put out the fire, a lot attendant found what appeared to be human remains in the backseat of the vehicle.

According to the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD), video obtained from a gas station several blocks away shows the vehicle going slowly through a green light, traveling up a curb and into a parking lot where it came to a stop. According to the investigation report, the vehicle was in the parking lot for a long time before it slowly rolled into an electrical box. Smoke was seen coming from the front of the vehicle and then caught fire, according to the investigation report. MFD was unable to determine from the video if anyone exited the vehicle and fled the scene. The investigation report goes on to state that the victim's body could have been moved to the back seat by the water from the fire hoses that were used to extinguish the fire.

According to the investigation report,the fire appeared to have started in the engine compartment and burned to the rear of the car.

Milwaukee Fire Chief Aaron Lipski said firefighters "failed in protecting human dignity" while he addressed the incident during a press briefing Tuesday afternoon.

Lipski was emotional about what he described as a failure by responding firefighters to protect human dignity and provide grieving families some closure.

"The Milwaukee Fire Department takes its duty to protect life and property very seriously, respecting humanity and human dignity always. As we clearly did not locate the deceased victim on this scene, we failed in protecting that human dignity," Chief Lipski said. “Our failure to locate this person deprived them of their dignity and I am deeply sorry for that."

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