Police Searching for Stepfather of Homicide Victim, Witness Says Area is Known for Violence


The scene of Des Moines’ 23rd homicide this year. (WHO-HD)

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Police are currently looking for a man wanted in connection with the most recent homicide in Des Moines.

Officers were called to a car fire in the 1400 block of Henderson Street on Friday, where they also found 26-year-old Christopher Lenhart suffering from severe burns. Lenhart was taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals where he died on Sunday.

Police are now looking for Randy Miles Jr., Lenhart's stepfather, who is believed to have critical information about the incident.

Arla Cortez witnessed the event and saw the vehicles--and Lenhart--on fire.

"The guy came out of it and he was running and he came to the front, then the ambulance and firefighters came," she said. "I just couldn't imagine someone getting killed or getting set on fire."

Investigators say the fire points to arson, and hope questioning Miles will help them uncover necessary information.

"He seems to be the last link we need to sure up this case," said Sgt. Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department. "We've learned of some history of some violent acts in his past."

Cortez lives near where the incident took place, and says the apartment complex is known for violence.

"There is always fighting, guys beating girls, and guys always fighting outside," she said.

One neighbor describes this street as safe and quiet. "Well the neighborhood when I lived here was a great neighborhood."

But Cortez disagrees.

"Well I did, they never disrespected us or did anything to us, but I don't know anymore," she said.

Police say witnesses are cooperating in this investigation. This is the 23rd homicide in Des Moines in 2017.


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