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Body Likely Pulled Apart in Sewage System Unidentified, Missing Arm

The torso of an unidentified and possibly Hispanic woman found submerged at a wastewater treatment facility in the San Gabriel Valley Monday is believed to be related to a pelvis and legs found in another facility in Carson two days before, authorities said.

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Homicide detectives were responding Monday, Oct. 28, to the discovery of human remains at a county wastewater treatment plant near Whittier. (Credit: KTLA)

The upper torso was discovered about 9:30 a.m. in a tank in the 1900 block of Workman Mill Road (map) in the unincorporated area of Bassett, near Whittier and the City of Industry, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The case was being treated as a homicide, sheriff’s Lt. Mike Rosson said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

The upper torso is believed to match a pelvis and set of legs found separately at a water treatment facility in Carson on Oct. 26, he said.

“Obviously, there’s two parts. It makes sense, but everything’s going to have to be confirmed by the coroner through DNA,” Rosson said.

The body, that of a woman who was “possibly Hispanic,” could have been flushed through any sewer line 18 inches or wider from a site upstream of the Bassett plant, he said. It was found when workers were checking for a “plug” in the line.

The body, likely pulled apart inside the sewage system, was still missing a left arm, Rosson said.

“We do not believe that it was a mutilation. We believe it’s some kind of mechanical mutilation of the body that happened during the pumping process or the separation process in the plants,” Rosson said.

Asked about the victim’s head, Rosson noted that crews  were draining the tank and a hazardous materials team planned to enter the closed space where a head could possibly be found.

The body parts found Monday appeared to be submerged in liquid in a covered pool at the San Jose Water Reclamation Plant, a wastewater treatment site operated by the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, aerial video showed.

The finding of human remains in Carson occurred in 24500 block of South Figueroa Street, where the county’s Joint Water Pollution Control Plant, one of the largest wastewater plants in the world, is located. The two plants, more than 20 miles apart, are directly linked.

Body parts have been found in wastewater treatment plants before, Rosson said.

Anyone with information about a missing female was encouraged to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call “Crime Stoppers” at 800-222-8477 (TIP), or text the letters TIPLA plus your tip to 274637 (CRIMES), or visit the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

KTLA’s Christina Pascucci contributed to this report.