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Body found near Portales in 2017 has been ID'd

A body found in a burning pickup near Portales, N.M., has been identified. (KVII file)

The body found in the burning pickup west of Portales has been positively identified, according to a release from Roosevelt County Sheriff Malin Parker.

The body is that of Steve Robert Gephart, 59, according to the release. His body was found on December 13, 2017.

According to the release:

The office of the Medical Investigator has identified the body.

The cause of death was listed as thermal injuries and inhalation of products.

The office of Medical Investigator also listed contributing factors in the death to be methamphetamine use and cardiovascular disease.

Based on these findings and an extensive, thorough, investigation completed by the 9th Judicial Major Crimes Unit, it is believed Gephart became unconscious while injesting illegal substances and caused the fire himself.

A propane torch located in the vehicle within the area of the deceased is believed to be the possible source of the ignition.

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