Lehigh Valley

Friends mourn the loss of 18-year-old found burning in Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Officials released disturbing new details about a body that was found burning in Bethlehem Tuesday morning.

Investigators say the victim is 18-year-old Tyrell Holmes of Bethlehem. They say he was stabbed several times and then lit on fire while still alive.

Investigators say this was not a random event, it was personal, and now they're trying to find a motive to this gruesome killing.

This, while friends grieve at a memorial for Holmes at the dumpster where he died. 

“He was a nice kid, funny. I was with him not long ago. We were rapping in his room, being funny,” said Ryan Rosado. 

Rosado, a lifelong friend, says Holmes grew up not far from the scene. 

“No doubt this type of killing resulted in extreme pain for the victim prior to dying, he was conscious,” said Northampton County DA John Morganelli. 

Police say Holmes, a one time Liberty High student, was still alive when lit on fire, after being stabbed multiple times.

His burning body was found near a dumpster at Bethlehem's Parkhurst apartment complex early Tuesday morning.

Police say a 911 caller thought he saw the body crawling on the ground while still on fire.

On arrival, officers initially thought it was a mannequin. But after fire extinguishers were used they discovered it was a body.

"It is a very violent type of homicide,” said Bethlehem Police Chief Mark Diluzio. 

The coroner said Holmes died from smoke inhalation, thermal injuries and stab wounds.

An accelerant was found at the scene by Allentown's arson dog.

“Burning someone to death, we may have a first degree capital case here because torture is an aggravating circumstance under the law,” Morganelli added. 

Police have not given a motive but said they are questioning a series of people.

They also say Holmes didn't live at the apartment complex and don't yet know why he was killed there. 

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