PALMDALE, Calif. — Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials say a body has been found inside a pickup truck that belonged to a man suspected of killing a family of three in their Palmdale-area home.

Investigators could not immediately confirm the identity of the deceased person discovered Sunday. They have been searching for the pickup’s owner, James “Todd” Brown, for weeks.

Detectives say the 54-year-old did odd jobs for the slain family and had lived in a trailer on their property for two years.

Authorities say he got into an argument that escalated until he beat, stabbed and suffocated 78-year-old Richard Gardner, 56-year-old Pepper Gardner and the man’s 52-year-old son, Richard.

Deputies who were asked to check on the family’s welfare found the bodies Jan. 13. The family dogs also were beaten to death.

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