The family of Mario Dominguez is waiting on a conclusive determination of his death from the county Coroner’s Office before deciding whether to seek any other action.
Dominguez is believed to be the man whose body was burned beyond recognition in a motel room in Sylmar on Feb. 25.
According to a family member in Sylmar, who spoke to the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol newspaper on the condition of anonymity, the coroner’s office will not be performing an autopsy because the victim was so badly burned. Instead, medical examiners have taken DNA samples from family members for comparison, and they will perform toxicology tests.
“It will take four to six weeks for the results,” the family member said.
A memorial will not take place until after the final and affirmative notification is released, “although it’s pretty much him. The motel room was under his name,” the family member said.
The family member added there would be no further comment from them at this time.
Dominguez is believed to be the victim of the early morning fire at the Sylmar Motel in the 12200 block of San Fernando Road. The fire, which was extinguished in 12 minutes, was contained to one unit of the 18-room facility.
After the fire — which firefighters described as being “intensely hot” — was put out, first responders found the male victim’s body in the room. He was the only person in the room. No other damage or injuries were reported.
Dominguez, who grew up in San Fernando, suffered through mental illness much of his life, family members said. According to his son Ray, Dominguez was diagnosed as a paranoid-schizophrenic. He also struggled with heroin addiction, and spent time in prison.
Ray, who grew up in Sylmar but now lives in Las Vegas, told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol that his father “struggled with taking medication. He took it, then wouldn’t take it. That’s what ruined my dad’s life. He didn’t want to accept his illness and tried to cover it up with drug use.
“But he comes from a very good family; nine brothers and sisters. I don’t see him setting himself on fire. That doesn’t make sense to me.”
Ray said Dominguez had been living in subsidized housing in Tarzana. “But he had an episode last year when he went into someone else’s apartment and they called the cops. His sister was notified, and she got him and took him to a hospital. When being released, he came back to his apartment and they just put him out.”
“I don’t think they did it the right way,” Ray said. “My dad has been an addict, but at that time he was clean. But he went back to the streets and was using again. This is why we’re taking it so hard. We’re trying to find out why all these things happened.”
He said Mario “tried to be a dad to us but he just couldn’t. He tried to live a normal life; he just couldn’t. He had a tragic life with a horrible end; but he was a somebody. He had people who loved and cared for him.”
He said he hadn’t seen his father for 20 years, but did stay in touch through texting.
Ray, who came to the Valley last week to help with identification and has since returned to Las Vegas, indicated that the family still has many questions about how the fire started and why Dominguez was unable to get out of the burning room.
The incident continues to be investigated by LAPD and the Los Angeles Fire Department.