California authorities say they have arrested an armed ex-felon who led deputies on a high-speed pursuit with the body of a dead man in the bed of his truck.

Kern County sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt says the body was spotted Tuesday as the red pickup traveled near the Mojave Desert community of California City.

After a 20-minute chase, the pursuers lost sight of the truck on a dirt road. It was later found with the body still in the back.

After a search of surrounding foothills, deputies arrested 34-year-old William Patterson.

Detectives say it's still unclear what caused the man's death. Coroner's officials will try to determine that and identify the victim.

Patterson is being held on $55,000 bail. Pruitt didn't know if he has a lawyer.