MANSFIELD -- Mansfield Police are asking for the public's help after a teenager was apparently shot to death and his body found near 375 Jennings Ave. on Friday morning.
The victim, identified as 19-year-old Joseph A. Andrews Jr., was reported as a “missing person” earlier that morning by his family, Mansfield Police Chief Keith Porch said.
"Prior to the victim being reported missing, a vehicle matching the description of the one the victim was known to drive had been found engulfed in flames at North Lake Park at approximately 12:44 a.m.," Porch stated. "Detectives are working to identify the owner of that vehicle but the fire damage has delayed their efforts."
Andrews was discovered laying near the Jennings Avenue address, dressed in all black, wearing a mask and obviously deceased, police stated.
"This is an active investigation and detectives are working to establish what transpired prior to the victim being found," Capt. Shari Robertson said. "We will have to await an autopsy report to determine how long the victim was deceased before being located.
"Officers did respond to that area the night before (Thursday) at 11:25 p.m. in reference to several gunshots being heard. At least four area residents from different streets in and around the location where the victim was found did call to report hearing multiple gunshots but could not give an exact position," Robertson said.
"Officers did check the area and surrounding streets but were not able to locate anything at that time. The vehicle that was set on fire in North Lake Park was a white Dodge Avenger, the same type and color of vehicle the victim was known to drive."
Patrol officers responded to the 300 block of Jennings Avenue at approximately 7:02 a.m. Friday morning in reference to a “man down” call. A firearm was observed near the body as well as other evidence of a shooting.
The Richland County Coroner’s Office responded to the scene which was then processed for evidence. Major Crimes detectives are also working the case to find out what led to the shooting death as well as to identify a suspect(s), police stated.
"There are many moving parts to this investigation with what appears to be multiple, related crime scenes," Robertson said. "Detectives are working diligently to determine what led to Mr. Andrews’ shooting death.
"It is obvious from the preliminary investigation that there are individuals who know what happened or may have additional information about both incidents and we are asking for their help."
Police reported this is the fourth homicide in Mansfield this year.
"We need those in the community who may be able to help solve this homicide or who may have information on the other unsolved homicides, to step up and help bring some closure to the victim’s families," Robertson said. "We cannot solve these types of violent crimes without the community’s cooperation."
Police ask that anyone who may have information in relation to this investigation or the arson at North Lake Park, to call Major Crimes Detective Richard Clapp at 419-755-9470 or Major Crimes at 419-755-9724.
"We asking if anyone who may have seen that vehicle in the area at the time of the gunshots or shortly before and/or after, to please let us know," Porch said. "If anyone has cameras in or around that area, we would ask them to check and see if they observed a white Dodge Avenger or anything that may have been suspicious and to let us know."