BELEN–More than two weeks after firefighters put out a burning vehicle on Interstate 25 in Belen, tow-yard employees discovered the dead body of a 52-year-old Albuquerque man in the trunk.

Belen firefighters responded to a call of a car on fire at about 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 7, on the southbound lanes of Interstate 25 at the 195 exit, where they found a blue, 2008 Volvo sedan ablaze.

After the fire was extinguished, the Volvo was towed from the scene by Highway 47 Towing. On Wednesday, Dec. 22, employees of the towing company discovered the dead body of Michael “Terry” Yarbrough, according to Belen police.

When questioned why the body wasn’t discovered at the scene of the vehicle fire, Belen Fire Deputy Chief Charles Cox said firefighters on the scene were unable to open the trunk and therefore pried open a section to peek inside. The body was wrapped in a tarp, and due to the after-fire conditions, it was not readily apparent that a body was there.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, but authorities are working with the New Mexico State Fire Marshal’s office to make a determination.

The vehicle was reported stolen from Los Altos Park in Albuquerque on Saturday, Nov. 27.

Belen Police Chief James Harris said no suspects have been identified, and local police are working in conjunction with the Albuquerque police homicide detectives.

Yarbrough was reported missing to the Albuquerque Police Department on Dec. 21.

When asked what the cause of Yarbrough’s death was, Harris said he won’t release that information until the investigation is completed, adding that disclosing it might jeopardize the investigation. The chief also couldn’t comment where the homicide occurred.

Anyone with any information about this case is asked to contact Belen Police Department at 505-966-2680. Anonymous tips can be submitted through city of Belen’s web portal in the Belen Police Department link.

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.