HANOVER COUNTY, Va. - The father of the man found dead in a burned minivan cannot understand why someone would want to harm his son.
David Wells said the body found inside the 2004 Chevrolet minivan Saturday morning in Hanover is that of his 26-year-old son James Wells. Wells was a cab driver, according to his father.
"He took a fare last night [Friday] around 11 p.m. to Mechanicsville," Wells wrote in an email prior to the discovery of the body. "He called in once at 12:15 a.m. [that] he was on his way in and that's the last we have heard."
Hanover Sheriff's deputies were called to the 6200 block of Watt House Road around 7 a.m. Saturday to investigate after someone discovered the burned minivan.
Wells described his son as a loving husband and Navy veteran who was willing to lend a hand to anyone in need. He said his son was working at Marshall Cab Service in Hopewell trying to save up enough money to start a family.
Victoria Volk remembered Wells as a friend from high school who would ensure neighborhood kids would get home safely.
“Jim would walk us home from school. He would offer rides,” Volk said. “He was very gentle and kind and just a very sweet guy that would help anyone out."
Neighbors who live near where the minivan was discovered said they did not hear anything unusual in the middle of the night.
"Not at all," neighbor Jack Raybourne said. "Nothing until deputies were canvassing the neighborhood to see if anyone hear or saw anything."
From Route 10 to I-95 north -- then I-95 north to Hanover County -- is the quickest route Wells could take to the county, but did he go that way? Investigators are trying to put things together trying to find out how he would end up dead in a burned out cab.
"There's a strong indication that he was incapacitated to the cab being set on fire,” said crime expert Steve Neal. "Most likely someone started it to conceal evidence."
The charred spot where the cab was discovered is more than 26 miles from the Hopewell cab company headquarters.
The body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner where a cause and manner of death will be determined. The Medical Examiner will also officially release the victim's name.
"It's got everybody concerned and I'm sure we'll be a little watchful for awhile," Raybourne said.
The Hanover County Sheriff’s Office is also working with the Hanover Fire Marshal’s Office to determine the cause of the fire.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office at 804-365-6140 or the Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.