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Family Suspects Foul Play In Mysterious Death of Teen Whose Body Was Found on Side of California Highway: ‘We Had Walked and Searched the Area Days Prior’

The family of a missing Northern California teen found dead on the side of the Concord freeway suspects foul play in his death.

Concord Police Department found Damond Lazenby Jr.’s body on Jan. 7 below the shoulder of eastbound Highway 4 in Concord, between the Port Chicago Highway and Willow Pass Road. The 19-year-old Pittsburg, California, native was reported missing by his family on New Year’s Day, Fox 2 reported.

When a passing motorist discovered the body close to a guardrail on the busy highway, the man’s family members were already in the area looking for the teen. They positively identified it as Lazenby.

The family of a missing Northern California teen found dead on the side of the Concord freeway suspects foul play in his death.
The family of Damond Lazenby Jr. found dead on the side of the Concord freeway suspects foul play in his death. (Photo: YouTube screenshot/KPIX CBS SF Bay Area)

“We received a phone call from a lady who said she had some information about the location of where his body was,” said Kevin Hope. 

Lazenby’s body was located not far from where his green Volkswagen had been discovered on Jan. 1. Officers found the car with its engine running and a flat tire. The family reported him missing that day. They had canvassed the particular freeway segment several times since Lazenby was assumed missing and never saw anything.

“We had walked and searched the area days prior to where the body was actually found today, and that’s why we don’t think the body was there because we actually walked it ourselves,” Hope said.

Damond Lazenby Sr., the victim’s father, told CBS News he personally walked “that freeway … on January 1st, 2nd, and all the way to the 3rd.” 

The family was not alone in this effort. Over the last week, the Concord police also looked up and down the highway utilizing drones, K9s and ATVs.

Looking at where the teen was discovered, the family asserts their loved one was killed and discarded on the side of the road.

“We assumed that his body was thrown from a vehicle. And we assumed that somebody they had to take their time get out of the vehicle and do it,” the teen’s father said. “And I don’t think that nobody would have went unseen doing something like that. He’s a 6-3 guy, so he’s not a small guy.”

The victim’s first cousin, Jabari Harper, added, “It would have been bluntly obvious to us if he had been there for the full, entire seven days.”

“Keep in mind the weather has been really, really bad. It’s been raining, stormy. So, if he was out there in stormy weather, his condition would have shown that today when he found him. So, it was clear to us that he had been dumped. He didn’t have any dirt on his shirt. And it’s super clear that he was just placed there.”

Another cousin, Catherine Moore, punctuated this point, saying, “Especially considering the weather being the way it is, it is very suspicious and weird he would be right there and dry and everything.”

Lazenby’s last known contact was a phone call with his mother around 4 a.m. on Jan. 1. Local station KTVU reports Tanita Lazenby says her son called her that morning to say he was driving from their Pittsburg home to talk to her at her location in Oakland.

“He sounded really upset. I told him, ‘Don’t drive. You’re too upset to drive,'” she told the station. She added that the two agreed she’d come to meet him in Pittsburg.

Lazenby Jr.’s family remembers him as a typical teenager who enjoyed playing video games when he wasn’t working with his dad and played pranks on those around him, according to KRON 4.

His dad said the boy was not just his son but his best friend.

“Pain, just pain, lost for words,” said Lazenby Sr. “A part of me is gone. My main part. Part of my heart is just ripped up. I can’t even explain it. I lost my friend … my best friend.”

The family is now asking the public to step up and help. They have asked if anyone was on that side of Highway 4 between noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday and saw anything suspicious, they should contact law enforcement with whatever leads they might have.

The California Highway Patrol is taking the lead in this investigation but is being supported by detectives from the Concord Police Department. Law enforcement has decided not to release any information until the medical examiner releases the young man’s autopsy results.

While they are waiting for the results, the CPD released a statement to the family, saying, “We send our condolences to the Lazenby family during this difficult time.”

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