Authorities conducting a dig in the backyard of a San Gabriel Valley home in connection with a missing person case have uncovered a human skull and other remains, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced Friday.
“I can confirm we have a human body in the backyard,” sheriff’s Lt. Victor Lewandowski said outside the residence, which is located in the 700 block of Eldsberry Avenue. He added they were found “in the hole out there, in the grave.”
The remains still needed to be removed from the grave, a process Lewandowski said would be “tedious.”
Once removed, the body parts would be transported to the L.A. County coroner’s office, which would examine the remains and work to identify the victim, Lewandowski said.
He told reporters that the discovery was being investigated as a homicide.
“It’s now a murder investigation,” Lewandowski said.
The grim discovery came a day after sheriff’s homicide detectives received a tip that the remains of a person reported missing in 2009 were possibly buried in the backyard of a home in unincorporated Valinda.
Personnel from the Sheriff’s Department and the coroner’s office began digging around 7 a.m., sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida told KTLA on Thursday.
Investigators have not released the name, gender or age of the missing person, but they do not believe they resided at the home.
The current residents were cooperating with the investigation, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
Neighbor Rosemary Moreno told KTLA that a husband and wife lived in the home with two adult children. She added the family has lived there for about 12 to 15 years.
“They’re very quiet neighbors. The whole block — it’s really family oriented,” Moreno said.
One neighbor was stunned to learn that human remains had been found at their home.
“Right now, I’m just like really shocked. You know, they’re a very good family. They’ve been here for a long time. We’ve all had normal, close conversations. We know all about each other and our families,” said Veronica Espinoza. “I’m just really shocked. I don’t know what this outcome’s going to be.”
According to Lewandowski, the focus of the investigation would change if the remains belonged to the missing person.
“There would be some suspicions that were confirmed. Because of the fact that Homicide Bureau was involved in a missing persons, they’re has to be some sort of foul play before we would get involved in it, so this would certainly change the scope of the investigation,” he said.
Lewandowski emphasized that investigators did not have any suspects or persons of interest in the case.
KTLA’s Jennifer Thang contributed to this story.