Arrested after burnt body was found on Pinellas Trail – but not for murder

GULFPORT – Police made an arrest eight months after a body was found in the trunk of a burned-out car on a track in Clam Bayou.

But the charges do not include the murder. Andy Rozell Bryant, 34, was arrested Wednesday on charges of arson and abuse of a human body that died in the September incident, Gulfport police said.

Detectives decided not to prosecute the homicide charges against Bryant because the investigation and autopsy “did not support that charge,” said a statement from the Gulfport police sergeant. Thomas Woodman.

The Pinellas-Pasco medical examiner could not determine the cause and mode of death based on what remained of the charred human remains, police say, and a forensic anthropologist said there had no evidence of trauma at the time of death.

What the police can prove, the sergeant said, is that Bryant disposed of the body.

The person found in the trunk was Jesus Manuel Tavarez-Soto, 55, owner of the black 2014 Nissan Sentra, police said. A cyclist found the Nissan on the morning of September 21, 2020 on part of the Skyway Trail, a paved cycling and walking trail that splits from the Pinellas Trail west of 34th Street S and winds south through Clam Bayou to ‘at Skyway Fishing Pier State. To park.

Detectives said they learned that Bryant and Tavarez-Soto knew each other and that Bryant was in possession of the car until the day before the fire.

The keys to the car were thrown into nearby mangroves and a lighter was found near the car, detectives said. The investigation determined that Bryant was a “major contributor” to the DNA found on the two objects, according to the arrest reports.

Detectives said they also found a phone number belonging to Bryant who made two calls from the crime scene area on Sept. 21 at 3:28 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. That was around the time. where the police determined that the car had been set on fire. And Bryant suffered severe burns to his legs in accordance with the duration of the fire, according to police.

Bryant told detectives he found Tavarez-Soto already dead and said he attempted to dispose of his body by putting it in the car and setting it on fire, police said.

Bryant, who lives in St. Petersburg, was incarcerated in the Pinellas County Jail. He was being held on Friday in lieu of a $ 500,000 bond.

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