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Newport News mother seeks justice for murdered son found in trunk of burning car

Posted at 3:03 PM, Sep 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-12 17:52:27-04

Newport News, Va. - Newport News police are now investigating after they found a body inside the trunk of a burning car on Friday afternoon.

Police have now identified the victim as 28-year-old Jermaine Custis of Portsmouth. His body was found in a car at Jefferson Avenue and 12th Street.

An autopsy has been completed, but police say they are not releasing his cause of death because of the ongoing investigation. However, Custis' mother, Cynthia Williams exclusively told NewsChannel 3 that police told her he was shot.

"My heart stopped," Williams said. "All I heard was that he was found in the trunk of the car, he was shot up."

Police initially received a call about the fire but once they were on the scene, they found the body inside of the trunk.

A jogger actually found the car with cloth sticking out of the gas tank. Flames were isolated to that area outside of the car.

The jogger ran into Waterfront Lumber nearby and an employee came out with an extinguisher to put out the flames. The jogger also says there was a bloody sheet in the back seat of the car.

Police say the car is a gold, 2003 Honda Accord. They've identified who the car belongs to and say it was not reported stolen. Williams said it belonged to his son's fiancée.

She told NewsChannel 3 she doesn't understand why her son was murdered.

"Everybody loves Jermaine. Jermaine, if you were sad, he'll make you smile even if you didn't want to," she said. "I've never known him to hurt anyone, didn't know he had any enemies."

She says she wants answers to two simple questions: Who did this and why?

"I'm just numb and I'm empty. I'm just leaving it in the authorities' hands, praying that they will find who killed my son."

Police say they have no suspect information right now.

A search warrant filed in court says the fire was located in two places: a rag burned in the front seat and a rag burned in the gas cap area.

It also details 49 items that were taken from the car including two comforters and a blanket that were wrapped around the victim,  fingerprints, swabs from the door handles, a cell phone, a pair of sweatpants and various receipts and paperwork.

UPDATE: Body found in burning truck in Hampton now being investigated as a homicide