Police identify man found dead in burning car

The State Medical Examiner’s Office and local police have identified the person found dead in a burning car in Milford Friday night as Richard Weir, 72.

People who knew him said Weir, a longtime Milford resident, had recently been released from jail, where he was serving time for embezzling from several local charities.

He was sentenced in 2014 to three years in prison for embezzling more than $230,000 from the Milford Rotary Club, where he was treasurer, as well as funds from two other non-profits, the  Milford Special Olympics and the Milford Club.

Some of those funds were returned when the investigation was underway, according to news reports generated at the time. At the time he was sentenced, he was described as a good family man and community volunteer who took a wrong turn in life.

His body was found late Friday night inside a burning car near the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center.

The cause of death has not been determined yet, nor has the cause of the fire. According to the state medical examiner’s office, it may take six to eight weeks to determine the cause of death, which an office spokesperson said is the usual time frame.

On Monday, the smell of smoke could still be detected past the Audubon, at a wooden deck that is now closed to pedestrians. A pot of flowers has been placed at the start of the boardwalk, which leads across the beach and toward the water.

According to Fire Battalion Chief Anthony Fabrizi, at about 10:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, Milford firefighters responded to a report of a car fire in the area of 1 Milford Point Road.

When they arrived, they found a car fully engulfed in flames near the Connecticut Audubon Society. Fire crews deployed a hose line to extinguish the blaze, and discovered the body inside the vehicle. Firefighters did not say where inside the car the body was found.

A neighbor said he could see flames rising about 12 feet off the ground.

The area where the car was found can be accessed either through the Audubon lot or a private road that leads out to a gated section of homes. Both gates are usually closed at night. The car was burning to the left of the private road that leads to the private homes, atop a wooden walkway that leads to the beach. That section of the boardwalk is now blackened and charred.

Milford’s fire marshal’s division, along with Milford police, the Connecticut State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit, and the Connecticut State Medical Examiner were all on the scene Friday night to investigate.