Coroner identifies man found dead in vehicle during Highway 65 traffic stop

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The Kern County Coroner’s Office identified the man found dead in the passenger seat of a vehicle during a traffic stop on Highway 65 last week.

The coroner identified the man as 49-year-old Evmir Miraflores Evangelista of North Hollywood. The coroner said he was strangled and ruled the death a homicide.

Evangelita’s body was discovered in the passenger seat of a reportedly stolen vehicle by a CHP officer on Jan. 16 along Highway 65 north of Merle Haggard Drive. 

According to investigators, two men identified as Manpreet Sidhu, 39, and Ben Barness, 26, were also inside the car.

Court documents point toward a grim reason why Evangelista’s body may have been there.

According to court documents, investigators found a shovel and gasoline inside the car and a police affidavit suggests they could have been used to bury Evangelista somewhere off the highway.

The two men originally faced murder charges, but the case was sent back to the sheriff’s office for further investigation.

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