LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com)   —  Homicide detectives are investigating the death of a woman in unincorporated Whittier, officials said.

LA County Sheriff’s Detectives were called to the 8600 block of Bradwell Avenue around 1:10 p.m. Sunday for an “abandoned vehicle” call.

The unidentified adult victim was found in a red, 1991 Toyota Celica hatchback. As they approached the vehicle, officers said they smelled the very strong odor connected to a decomposing body.

Neighbors told KCAL9’s Cristy Fajardo “the smell was overwhelming.”

“My neighbor was going to work and they stopped her and said, ‘Hey, you can’t pass, we’re checking on something’. And she saw them open up the trunk and the reactions [were clear because] of the smell,” said Juan Carlos Jimenez.

The woman — a Latina between 20-25 — was pronounced dead at the scene. Her body was found inside a large cooler.

The cause of death and identity of the victim are pending an autopsy, officials said.

Deputies told Fajardo they ran the vehicle’s license plates and the car was reported stolen.

They told her they were now pouring over missing persons cases in an effort to match their victim. Neighbors told Fajardo they have no idea who she is or how she got there. Residents told her there are transients in the area that do drugs and often cars are dumped in the neighborhood.

“But not to the extent that there is a body inside,” said Jimenez, “That’s like totally new to us here.”

The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may call “Crime Stoppers” (800) 222-TIPS (8477).

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