An American man who spent nine months in detention in North Korea was reportedly found mysteriously burned to death in San Diego.
An off-duty California Highway Patrol officer discovered Aijalon Mahli Gomes, 38, engulfed in flames, running and then collapsing in a dirt field near the Pacific Highway and tried to help him. However, Gomes was ultimately pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigation into Gomes' death is still ongoing but the police believe his death might not be "a homicide but rather an accidental death or suicide."
Gomes was detained in a labor camp in North Korea in January 2010 after crossing into the hermit kingdom from China. Before that, he taught English in South Korea.
Three months after his arrest, Gomes was sentenced to eight years' hard labor after North Korea accused him of committing an unspecified "hostile act" and also ordered him to pay a fine of about $700,000.
During his detention, Gomes reportedly tried to take his own life. According to his memoir, "Violence and Humanity," he endured "psychological torment of interrogation and confinement" at the labor camp.
Gomes was freed that August after President Jimmy Carter helped negotiate his release.
However, it's still not clear why Gomes ventured into North Korea. At the time, his uncle, Michael Farrow, told CNN Gomes, a devout Christian, "may have just been trying to peek in and help others and teach them."
Otto Warmbier, another American who was imprisoned in North Korea, died earlier in June. He was arrested for allegedly trying to steal a poster with a propaganda slogan.
Warmbier was released while he was in a coma and died six days after returning home.
Banner/Thumbnail: Kyodo, Reuters