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April 25, 2018

Burning 'mannequin' near dumpster turns out to be dead body, police say

Police Investigations
Police lights arrests crime Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Kristen Oswald, of Royersford, Montgomery County, died during an Ironman triathlon in Ohio on Sunday after being struck by a commercial truck struck while she was cycling on the course. 

What began as officers responding to an early morning fire in a Lehigh Valley city quickly turned into an investigation into a suspicious death.

Bethlehem police said they received a call about a fire near a blue dumpster next to the Parkhurst Apartment Complex around 2:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Initial calls to 911 indicated that there was a burning "mannequin" in the fire. However, when police arrived and used a fire extinguisher to douse the flames, it was determined that it was actually the body of a male, police said.

Daniel Vaughan told WFMZ he was one of the neighbors who initially had spotted the flames.

"It looked like a car was on fire or a tree, I couldn't really tell," Vaughn told the news station. "We were hoping it was a mannequin. We didn't want to believe it was something real.”

In a news conference Wednesday (via The Morning Call), Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli identified the victim as Tyrell Michael Holmes, 18, of the Bethlehem area. 

Holmes died of smoke inhalation, thermal injuries and multiple stab wounds, Northampton County Coroner Zachary Lysek said. His death has been ruled a homicide. 

"It is a very violent type of homicide," Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio said. 

Morganelli said while investigators haven't singled out a specific suspect, police have a circle of individuals they have to take a "very hard look" at. Holmes did not live at the apartment complex, authorities said. 

Police are still investigating and reviewing forensic evidence from the scene. Anyone with information about the death, or who lives in the area of the complex and heard something suspicious Tuesday morning, is asked to call Bethlehem police at (610) 865-7187.

This article was updated after authorities held a news conference about the death and investigation Wednesday afternoon.