A hearse that was stolen outside a Pasadena church with a woman's corpse inside was involved in a brief pursuit before it crashed on the 110 Freeway Thursday morning, officials said.
Shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday, a mortician parked an SUV customized for mortuaries outside Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church located in the 700 block of Rosemead Boulevard to deliver another body for an upcoming memorial service. While inside the church, someone stole the customized black Lincoln Navigator SUV, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
The sheriff’s office said there was an all-out search for the vehicle with California license plate No. 7ZDG618.
It was originally reported the missing body was inside a casket, but investigators later determined the woman’s corpse was inside a body bag.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department also posted a message on social media urging the bandit to return the body.
"Out of all the bad decisions you have made, at least make one good one and bring back the deceased person & casket inside the Navigator," the sheriff’s office said.
Just before 8 a.m. Thursday, officers with the Los Angeles Police Department were in pursuit of the stolen vehicle with a matching license plate after the driver failed to stop. The vehicle then crashed on the southbound lanes of the 110 Freeway, striking multiple other vehicles in the process, near Vernon Avenue in South Los Angeles.
Officials shut down the southbound lanes near downtown Los Angeles while authorities continued to conduct the investigation. It was unknown when the lanes would reopen.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department confirmed there was a deceased body inside the vehicle, but it remained uncertain if it was the same body reported missing.
The suspect was hospitalized and taken into custody, authorities said. Their identity was not immediately released.