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Detectives hunting for killer of Los Angeles-area man whose body was found in forest

Damian Dovarganes / AP

In this photo from Jan. 9, Los Angeles County Coroner officials walk with an official cadaver dog, as they investigate a shallow grave off Big Tujunga Canyon Road, on the edge of the Angeles National Forest. About 10 days later, authorities found human remains near that site.

Homicide detectives in Southern California are investigating who may be behind the death of a man whose remains were found in a forest near Los Angeles earlier this month.

Authorities discovered the remains of Nicolas Carter, 25, in Angeles National Forest on Jan. 19, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a press release Thursday. The Glendale, Calif., resident had been last seen on Jan. 7, and his disappearance was reported to local police on Jan. 18, NBCSanDiego.com reported.

Back on Jan. 9, authorities responded to a hiker's reports of finding a "shallow grave" near Big Tujunga Canyon Road, the sheriff's office said. Officials said they found no remains at the time, but when homicide detectives later returned on Jan. 19, they discovered human remains not far from the grave.

The coroner's office determined Carter's death was caused by "blunt force trauma."

Angeles National Forest is just north of Los Angeles city limits. Carter's Glendale apartment is around 20 miles away from where his body was found, according to NBCSanDiego.com.

A friend of Carter told NBCSanDiego.com that Carter's roommate reportedly received a text message from Carter around the time he went missing. The text message claimed Carter was going to see his grandma in Sacramento, but it was later revealed he doesn't have a grandma in Sacramento, NBCSanDiego.com reported.

Lt. Mike Rosson, with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, told the Los Angeles Times that nothing suspicious or unusual in Cater's past would point toward a motive in this case.

"He holds down a job," Rosson told the newspaper. "He's a normal guy."

While the homicide investigation continues, police ask anyone with information to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500 or send a tip to Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers.

NBCSanDiego.com's Lauren Steussy, as well as NBCLosAngeles.com's Sharon Bernstein and Melissa Pamer contributed to this report.