Chula Vista Police Department. Photo by Chris Jennewein

A 55-year-old man found dead in a motorhome parked on a Chula Vista street was publicly identified Wednesday, but the cause of death has not been determined, authorities said.

Michael James Johnson’s body was found shortly after 8:30 p.m. Sunday by officers conducting a welfare check at his motorhome in the 500 block of C Street near Broadway, according to a Chula Vista Police statement. The RV was locked and bore no signs of forced entry.

A small bump on the forehead consistent with a fall was the only trauma found on the body, police said.

Smoke from a small fire inside the vehicle that likely smoldered from lack of oxygen was also spotted, police said. Witnesses told investigators Johnson sometimes started small fires inside the RV to cook or keep warm, and was seen barbecuing the day before his body was found.

Police said soot was found in his lungs, indicating he was alive during the fire. The blaze apparently spread to Johnson’s bed while he was sleeping.

He was likely overcome by smoke while attempting to escape, became disoriented and fell to the floor, according to the statement.

Authorities suspect Johnson died of carbon monoxide poisoning, but an autopsy did not establish the cause of death. Investigators were awaiting the results of further tests.

—City News Service

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