Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio said Tuesday a woman found in the burned remains of an SUV last week outside Copperopolis was a “confirmed homicide,” but added he could not provide any additional information about the woman’s cause of death.
The woman who appeared to be in her early 40s was found burned beyond recognition in the vehicle, which was located on Lower Telegraph Road south of Highway 4 and seven miles west of Copperopolis on the morning of May 29.
The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office believed they had identified the woman, but were still seeking dental records to confirm her identity, he said.
Calaveras County Sgt. Greg Stark declined to comment on the investigation and said he could not confirm it was a homicide.
“We’re exploring all the avenues and we’re making sure we’re getting a complete picture of what happened. None of which I can release to maintain the integrity of the investigation,” Stark said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, no one had been charged in connection with her death.
A 41-year-old man from Washington, David Joseph Fagundes, remained in the Calaveras County Jail on a no-bail probation hold after allegedly making criminal threats to deputies during a standoff more than nine hours after the accident was reported.
Stark said the Sheriff’s Office was not releasing any information related to Fagundes’ statements to deputies after he was apprehended or if he was considered a suspect in the death. Stark said last week the Sheriff’s Office had located evidence Fagundes was associated with the burned vehicle and the woman inside.
Stark said the Sheriff's Office is expanding its investigation into witnesses who may have been present when the car was on fire. Deputies were notified of the vehicle on fire just after 7 a.m. and arrived on scene at about 8 a.m. when the vehicle was still burning.
The burned vehicle was identified as a red or maroon Chevrolet HHR which may have also been in the Copperopolis area before the fire. The Sheriff’s Office was also seeking information on an unidentified male adult who was believed to be associated with the vehicle while it was at the scene.
Stark said the Sheriff’s Office was unsure if Fagundes was the man associated with the Chevrolet HHR. An unidentified man reportedly attacked the flames with a handheld fire extinguisher before deputies arrived.
The cause of the fire remains undetermined.
Fagundes was detained by SWAT and K-9 Nox at about 7 p.m. after a more than hour-long standoff during which he claimed he was armed with a gun and threatened to hurt himself and others.
Fagundes was booked on suspicion of making criminal threats to public officials, making criminal threats, being under the influence of a controlled substance, resisting or delaying a peace officer and a felony violation of his probation in the state of Washington.
Stark said Fagundes did not have a firearm, but did have a medium-sized folding pocket knife.
Fagundes was booked into the Calaveras County Jail on May 31, according to Calaveras County Jail booking logs.
Stark said he had no comment as to why he was booked two days after his arrest.
The booking logs also indicated Fagundes was arrested at a Modesto hospital, which Stark confirmed, but added he did not know what hospital it was.
According to authorities in Washington, Fagundes was convicted of manslaughter in a downtown Spokane stabbing death in 2012 and was sentenced to serve six and a half years in Washington state prison.
Fagundes pleaded guilty to first degree manslaughter in the Spokane County Superior Court in August 2013 and was arrested in Spokane County in September 2018 on charges of felony possession of a controlled substance, hit and run in a vehicle with property damage and driving while under the influence of a drug.
The Calaveras County Sheriff's Office has requested that any member of the public with information about the situation contact Sergeant Ken Grognet at (209) 754-6552.