Not guilty plea from suspect in burned body case

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Vrouyr Manoukian By Jennifer Thomas Vrouyr Manoukian By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- A man arrested in connection with a burned body that was found in the northwest Phoenix desert nearly a year ago pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday.

Vrouyr Manoukian, 22, was arrested earlier this month and booked into the Maricopa County Jail on a charge of second-degree homicide. He is being held on $270,000 bond.

Phoenix firefighters found the body of Matthew McMasters, 24, after responding to a brush fire in the area of Interstate 17 and Dixileta Drive on July 28.

Investigators said an SUV towing a utility trailer was seen leaving the scene of the fire.

An autopsy determined McMasters died of blunt force trauma to the head.

Phoenix police said McMasters and Manoukian had been living together near Bethany Home Road and 21st Avenue, which is where the incident occurred.

Sgt. Tommy Thompson said Manoukian and another individual later disposed of the body and set it on fire in the desert.

The investigation is ongoing.