"According to a preliminary forensic medical examination, Ilyas Shurpayev was strangled with a belt," the source said, adding that a fire had been started at the scene of the crime, but that it had been extinguished before it could spread.
The management of Russia's state-run Channel 1, where the murdered journalist worked until recently, has confirmed Shurpayev's death.
A spokesman for the Russian Prosecutor General's Office said a murder investigation had been launched. A source in the investigating group said that one of the theories being considered was that the murder was connected with the journalist's professional activities.
He added that several people were thought to have been in Shurpayev's flat at the time of the murder and that police investigators were currently questioning his neighbors.
Shurpayev, 32, was known for his reports from Russia's North Caucasus republic of Daghestan and Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia.
According to data from the international rights organization Reporters Without Borders, 21 journalists were murdered in Russia between 2000 and 2007.
The most high-profile of these was the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who gained international recognition for her outspoken criticism of the Kremlin and claims of state-backed atrocities against civilians in Chechnya. She was gunned down in the entrance of her Moscow apartment building in October 2006. In December 2007, three suspects in the case were detained in custody until this April.