Man found dead outside east side home is second body found along same alley in 7 days

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – For the second time in seven days, a body was found near an alley on the east side of Indianapolis.

Just before 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, fire crews found a man dead after extinguishing flames in the backyard of a home in the 30 block of North Drexel Avenue.

Crews were called to the scene by a next-door neighbor who noticed the smoke. Police say a man was covered with items and set on fire. He has been identified as 32-year-old Cruz Ball and his death was ruled a homicide.

The coroner later determined the man died from "undisclosed trauma" and he had "noticeable thermal burn injuries."

"I think it’s really unfortunate to say the least. It’s the mindset of people without decency. They have no regard for life," said neighbor Dakarai Fulton.

Police are still trying to figure out what led up to the death in the backyard, but that investigation has neighbors on edge because exactly one week ago, another woman was found dead just 100 yards away in the same alley. Neighbors say that victim was found partially nude and covered in bruises.

Although details of the killing remain unclear, the death of 37-year-old Amber Whitfield has been ruled a homicide.

"Two people in the last seven days, it’s unheard of. I have no words for it. It’s just like unfathomable," said Fulton.

A search of police reports shows Ball has previous arrests on drug charges and for patronizing a prostitute. Neighbors say drugs and prostitution are a common sight in the neighborhood.

"That’s typical. I saw that the first day I moved over here. You can find whatever you want. It’s really sad, but it’s true," said Fulton.

Police say the home where Ball was found is being renovated. It’s owned by someone from out of state.

Aside from location, it’s not clear if the two deaths are in any way related. While the reason for the deaths remains a mystery, neighbors say they hope whoever is responsible is brought to justice before anyone else loses their life.

"What I see right now is that life is not being respected at all, point blank and period. They don’t care about your life, my life or anybody's life," said Fulton.

As always, anyone with information on either death can contact Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 317-262-TIPS.

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