Did Christopher Dorner Really Burn to Death in That Cabin?

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There's one big question on everyone's mind today as one of the biggest manhunts in history came to a conclusion with a gunfight, a cabin blaze, and one set of charred remains on Tuesday: Are we done with the Christopher Dorner saga? According to police, not quite. Even though a body was found, the question about Dorner's final fate still can't be answered at the moment.

The Body

Late last night, the San Bernardino County sheriff's department confirmed that a body was indeed found in the cabin. Though it had been reported that sources in the Los Angeles mayor's office  confirmed that it was Dorner, and law enforcement sources tell CBS that they're very confident Dorner burned to death in that cabin, police are waiting for a forensic confirmation which, according to  CNN's Miguel Marquez and Lateef Mungin could take days. "LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said that until Dorner's body is positively identified 'or he's in shackles,' the LAPD is continuing under 'tactical alert ... as if he's still out there,'" reports USA Today's William Welch. The police also say they will continue to protect the officers Dorner named as possible targets in his manifesto.

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Update 10:12 a.m. Though police haven't confirmed that Dorner was the body that they found, they did find belongings like a wallet and identification which they believe belongs to Dorner. The AP reports: 

...hours later a charred body was found in the basement of the burned cabin along with a wallet and personal items, including a California driver's license with the name Christopher Dorner, an official briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

The Body Count

On Tuesday, Dorner killed one sheriff's deputy and wounded another. Dorner was wanted for three murders prior to yesterday's shootout. 

The Accomplice?

According to the criminal complaint filed against Dorner, it appears Dorner may have had help during this six-day man hunt. The Los Angeles Times's Kate Mather and Phil Willon reported on Tuesday: 

Dorner may have been helped by an associate identified only as "JY" in the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles late last week ...

The possibility that Dorner received help from the associate was raised in McClusky's affidavit. The Marine Corps and San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department investigators were conducting a surveillance operation of an Arrowbear Lake property owned by a family member of the associate [JY] Thursday and discovered a burning vehicle nearby that matched the gray Nissan pickup used by Dorner.

Dorner's Firing

One of the most intriguing pieces in this bizarre puzzle is the subplot of Dorner's manifesto, his belief that he was treated unfairly during his time in the LAPD and his allegations that the organization was corrupt. During the six-day manhunt, the LAPD said they would be reopening the 2007 police brutality case that ended with Dorner being fired for making false statements. There is some evidence that the judge who ruled against Dorner back in 2007 was not exactly squeaky clean. Judge David P. Yaffe resigned in 2010 and did so while in the midst of a bribery scandal.

The Police Headache

If and when Dorner's body is identified, the LAPD will have to offer up some answers on the way this manhunt was handled—from Dorner's 2007 case, to the corruption allegations in his manifesto. And they'll have to explain why they fired upon innocent civilians who didn't even match Dorner's description. One civilian was shot by the Torrance police, and has since lawyered up according The Daily Breeze, a newspaper in Torrance, California:

One of three victims in police attacks meant for fugitive Christopher Dorner is speaking out through his attorney, who calls Torrance police officers "violent and reckless" for shooting at and detaining him. 

After all, David Perdue is a thin white man who looks nothing like Dorner. And he was questioned and released by officers just moments before another officer slammed a patrol car into his truck and fired shots at him

There's also seems to be a brewing controversy of how last night's blaze came to be and whether it was set deliberately.  In this clip, from KCAL 9 News in California, police can be heard saying "f*cking burn this motherfu*cker...": 

Police last night did not say how the blaze started.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.