Police discovered the badly decomposed body of a man whose feet were bound in the trunk of a parked car Sunday after neighbors noticed a foul odor.
Police said the man, who had not been identified, was probably killed somewhere else, possibly as long as a week ago, before the car was left in a quiet neighborhood in the 7900 block of 15th Street.
The victim appears to be in his 30s and Asian. His body, discovered by police at 2:28 p.m., was wrapped in a navy blue blanket, Police Lt. Andrew Hall said.
The grisly discovery unnerved neighbors, dozens of whom gathered behind police barriers as detectives inspected the car, a silver 1989 Toyota Corolla that was not locked.
"You could smell it all the way down the street," said resident Glenda Harrington. "The wind was blowing a little bit today, and I think that's why everyone started to notice."
The car, she said, "has been there a long time. It even has a street-sweeping ticket. Me and another neighbor watch 'Unsolved Mysteries' and had just been trying to figure out how long it had been parked there."
Eleanor Quinn said the car had been parked in front of her home for at least a week.
"I had noticed the car parked there, but I didn't really pay much attention because people have the right to park a car on the street," Quinn said. "But when we noticed this foul smell, we knew there was a problem."
Quinn, 57, said she and some guests began to notice the odor around noon on Sunday and later went out to investigate, checking the bushes for what they thought might be a dead animal.
"We were all walking around the front yard, sniffing," said 23-year-old Jerry McCormack, who was visiting at Quinn's house. "We realized that it was coming from the car. I looked and noticed that there were flies and stuff around the trunk and saw a brown streak and it turned out to be blood. That's when we called police."
Nancy Haught, who has lived next door to Quinn for 25 years, said she first noticed the car Friday night and began smelling the odor Sunday morning.
"I wish we would have been more alert," said Haught, 50. "It's all very creepy and upsetting. It makes us very nervous to think that something like this could happen. I feel sorry for the family of whoever they found in the trunk."
Many of the residents said the incident was quite uncharacteristic of the neighborhood, which is a mixture of apartment buildings and single-story homes.
"I've always felt safe and comfortable," Quinn said. "I used to try and mind my own business, but you really have to pay attention to your neighbors. And I intend to from now on."
Hall said the car is registered to someone outside Orange County but would not say who.
The car was towed, with the body still inside, to the Orange County Crime Lab.
Police said they did not have a suspect Sunday night.
This is the city's ninth homicide so far this year, a total that already far exceeds last year's five homicides.
"It's a bad year for Westminster, obviously," Hall said. "There really is no clear reason why. But we have solved all of our homicides so far up to this case."