Bay Area prosecutors said Tuesday that they were "ethically obligated" to not charge a man arrested on suspicion of mutilating a body whose parts were stowed in a suitcase and scattered across a neighborhood in downtown San Francisco.
Mark Andrus, 54, was booked early Saturday on suspicion of murder, one day after police released surveillance footage showing a person of interest in the grisly slaying. An anonymous tipster led police to Andrus, who was detained in the Tenderloin District.
Despite being "very disturbed by the facts of this case," the office of San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascon declined to file charges against Andrus, spokesman Alex Bastian said in a statement.
"Given the current state of the evidence, there is insufficient evidence to charge this suspect with murder," said Bastian, citing the lack of identification of the victim and the absence of a cause of death.
The remains were discovered Jan. 28 on 11th Street between Market and Mission streets. Officers had received a call about a suspicious package outside a Goodwill store and made the gruesome discovery when they opened the suitcase.
The body parts were said to belong to an “unidentified light-skinned male,” according to the San Francisco medical examiner’s office.
Investigators later found additional dismembered remains in a nearby trash can, police said. Initially, police said they were unsure whether the remains belonged to a human or an animal.
Complicating the medical examiner's effort to identify the body is the absence of hands and a head, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The state Bureau of Forensic Services' DNA laboratory will be needed to identify him, according to the medical examiner. Police are also investigating whether the human remains belong to Andrus' former roommate, 58-year-old Omar Shahwan, who has been missing for several days, the Chronicle reported.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the San Francisco Police Department’s anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444.
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Times staff writers Joseph Serna and Christine Mai-Duc contributed to this report.