LANCASTER, Calif. (AP) - Two adults and two children whose
bodies were found in the ashes of a Mojave Desert house fire were
killed before they were burned, authorities said.
NASA engineer Joseph Paul Ciganek along with a woman, boy and
girl were beaten and stabbed to death before the fire, Los Angeles
County coroner's spokesman Ed Winter said Thursday.
"The burns that they had were caused after death," Winter
said. "We believe the burns did not contribute to the death, that
they were killed prior."
The badly burned remains were discovered in Ciganek's Quartz
Hill home on Monday.
Ciganek, 60, worked at the agency's Dryden Flight Research
Center at Edwards Air Force Base, a NASA spokesman said.
Ciganek had gone through "blunt and sharp force trauma,"
meaning he was beaten and slashed, with "some sort of bladed
weapon," Winters said. The boy, about 10 years old, had similar
The woman and girl, about 13 years old, died from multiple stab
wounds, Winters said.
Authorities did not release the names of the other three victims
but said they were relatives of Ciganek's wife, Jocelyn, who was
returning home from work at the time the fire broke out and was not
among the dead, authorities said.
Neighbors said the Ciganeks had lived in the house for at least
Sheriff's homicide detectives are investigating the deaths.
Quartz Hill is an unincorporated area near Lancaster in the
Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles.