Did Christopher Dorner Really Burn to Death in That Cabin?

Alexander Abad-Santos
February 13, 2013

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.

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The Body

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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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The Body Count

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

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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 and his belief that he was treated unfairly during his time in the LAPD and 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 LAPD's Headache

If and when Dorner's body is identified, the LAPD will have to offer up some answers on the way everything was handled—from his 2007 case, to the corruption allegations in his manifesto to why they fired upon innocent civilians who didn't even match Dorner's description. One of those civilians has 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