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Bodies Found Among Items Auctioned at Storage Firm

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The unclaimed contents of a storage room in Northridge were sold sight unseen at auction Wednesday, and the buyer was startled to learn after opening it that he had bought the decomposing remains of a long-dead body.

Later on Wednesday, coroner’s officials said two more bodies had been found.

Officers said the winning bidder in the auction at the U-Haul rental and self-storage facility in the 18100 block of Parthenia Street noticed a foul odor emanating from the room and alerted authorities about 11 a.m.

Inside a trunk in the roughly 6- by-9-foot basement storage room, police found a body, so decayed that neither its sex nor race could be immediately determined, officers said. The coroner’s office determined Wednesday night that the body was that of a man, said Coroner’s Investigator Dan Aikin.

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The two bodies discovered about 11 p.m. Wednesday night were in other trunks in the storage room. The sex of those bodies was not determined. “They were also decomposing,” Aikin said.

The trunks in which they were found had earlier been taken to the coroner’s office to be opened in the presence of medical examiners, said Detective Tom Broad of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Devonshire Division.

Lt. Al Moen of the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division said the storage company’s paperwork indicated that the remains had been locked away for more than a year.

Officers would not identify the buyer. They also declined to say who had rented the storage room, and how long ago the renter had acquired it.

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The trunk containing the first body had been wrapped in plastic and taped shut, said Bob Collis of the Los Angeles City Fire Department.

Police and coroner’s investigators scoured the storage site for clues, turning aside most questions from the flock of reporters gathered outside the facility’s gates.

Although at first police were unsure whether the trunk contained human or animal body parts, further inspection revealed the contents to be a decayed human body, Moen said.

Broad said police were continuing to investigate the information provided by the storage room’s original rental papers. Those documents, he said, had to be brought in from another location, further hampering immediate efforts to locate the renter.

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“All we can say is that it appears we have a partially decomposed human body,” Moen said. “There is (paperwork) for that room, so obviously, we’re going to be looking at that” for clues, he said.


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