Questions linger as foul play ruled out in Placer County fire death

Lincoln man burned to death near popular hiking trail

A charred body was found in an open parking lot of a popular tourist destination in Placer County, in a case that's drawing attention for its mysterious nature and expeditious handling by authorities.

Jeremy Hecht, 22, of Lincoln, was found dead at the entrance to Hidden Falls Regional Park by a park employee in late September. Placer County Sheriff's Sgt. Nelson Resendes told SN&R that Hecht died at the popular hiking trail from “trauma by burning.”

“At this time, the criminal investigation into the matter is closed,” he added. “There is no evidence of foul play. It just appears to be a really misfortunate situation.”

The speed with which foul play was ruled out sparked discussion on local social media pages. The case was determined to be “non-criminal” within 24 hours, and the damaged parking lot asphalt was replaced within 48 hours.

While the death has been ruled non-criminal, sheriff's office spokeswoman Dena Erwin says the investigation is still open pending toxicology results. Self-immolation, whether by accident or suicide, hasn't been ruled out. “I believe it will all make more sense once the investigation is complete and can be discussed more openly,” she explained. “Right now I'm limited as to what I can say.”

This isn't Placer County's only recent incident involving a burned body or mysterious death. In June, two men burned alive in Roseville after being shot in the head and doused with gasoline. On the night Hecht died, a body was found floating face down in a pond near the Rocklin library. According to Erwin, all three incidents are unrelated.