FALLBROOK, Calif. - A homicide investigation was under way Friday in Fallbrook, where a missing man was found dead wrapped up in a sleeping bag in the backseat of his vehicle with obvious signs of trauma, authorities said.
The family of Alvin Bulaoro contacted deputies around 6 p.m. Thursday to report that they had located Bulaoro's Toyota 4Runner in a parking lot of an Albertsons store in the 1100 block of South Mission Road, according to San Diego County sheriff's Lt. Glenn Giannantonio.
Late Friday afternoon, the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that the body found in the SUV belonged to the 24-year-old Bulaoro.
Bulaoro had not been seen since Dec. 21. His family, who reported him missing Dec. 23rd , located his vehicle at the parking lot, after receiving a tip and reported it to the sheriff's department.
When deputies checked the vehicle, they discovered Bulaoro in the back area of the SUV. 10News learned the body was zipped up in a sleeping bag and had signs of trauma.
Residents who live near the grocery store said the SUV had been in the lot for a few days.
"It was on New Year's night," said Valerie Soto, a resident. "We were walking to CVS. We noticed the SUV was sitting there. I didn’t think anything of it."
The victim's brother, John Bulaoro, told 10News, "It's really hard, especially [for] my mom right now."
Bulaoro spent four years in the Navy before moving over to the Army Reserves, where he was set to become a commanding officer of a medical unit this month. He also ran a managed care facility for four elderly people in his home.
John Bulaoro said his brother loved this country and wanted to serve in Afghanistan.
"He never had enemies … He is a good person. I'm 100 percent sure he's a good person," John Bulaoro said.
According to family members, Alvin Bulaoro said he was going to San Diego to visit friends on the Dec. 21. They said that was the last they'd heard from him and it was completely out of character.
John Bulaoro told of the pain Thursday night as he looked into the window of his brother's car.
"His letter jacket's in there, his blue jeans are in there," he said.
John Bulaoro said he is angry that the SUV sat in the parking lot for at least several days without being checked out. The missing persons report included vehicle information.
"It's just right in there, all you [have to] do is walk up; it's in there it's in front of you. So, yeah, that makes me mad," he said.
Sheriff's homicide detectives suspect foul play, and the cause and manner of death has been sealed in the autopsy report, 10News learned.