A 25-year-old missing Glendale man whose body was discovered in a shallow grave in the Angeles National Forest this month was a “normal guy” who didn’t have a criminal history, officials said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide detectives and search-and-rescue teams discovered Nicholas Carter’s body on Jan. 19 in the area of Big Tujunga Canyon Road at mile marker 2.72, officials said. Coroner’s officials have determined Carter died of blunt force trauma.
While the investigation into Carter’s death has just begun, Homicide Lt. Mike Rosson said Carter didn’t have anything suspicious in his past that would indicate a motive.
“He holds down a job,” Rosson said. “He’s a normal guy.”
Carter was last seen on the evening of Jan. 7 watching a football game with a friend, he said. Carter didn’t have a car and lived with a roommate, Rosson added.
A hiker reported finding a shallow grave on the afternoon of Jan. 8 in the Big Tujunga Canyon Road area at mile marker 2.92. But as the sun came down, detectives and coroner’s investigators held off their search until the following morning for better visibility, he said.
At the time of the initial discovery, sheriff’s homicide detectives, along with the aid of cadaver dogs, discovered dragging marks, a trail of blood and the shallow grave, which after being excavated came up empty, Rosson said.
While homicide detectives had no other leads, they returned to the crime lab with the blood samples, which were analyzed and confirmed to be human, he said.
Ten days after blood samples taken from the scene turned out to be human, a team returned to the area. This time, they found Carter’s clothed, buried body not far from the first grave site, Rosson said.
The area — which is frequented by hikers — appeared to be “very well-traveled,” Rosson said.
The day before Carter’s body was uncovered, Glendale police logged a missing-persons report for Carter at about 8:30 p.m.
Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz declined to elaborate on the details in the report citing the ongoing homicide investigation, although he did say it didn’t describe any “suspicious activity.”
A friend of Carter’s posted a message and photos of him at 11:15 p.m. on Jan. 18 on Facebook asking anyone who knew about his disappearance to notify her, noting the missing-persons report.
A Facebook page attributed to a Nicholas Carter in Glendale described him as having studied business management economics at UC Santa Cruz.
Among his last posts on Jan. 7 were about getting a new phone charger and, at about 4:30 p.m., liking Moroccan tea. The last post on the account — a link to a video for the rapper Gunplay — was at 6:13 p.m.
Sheriff’s officials said no suspect or motive has been identified in connection with Carter’s death.
Anyone with information about Carter’s case may call Det. Sylvia Brossoit at (323) 890-5500.