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Body in dry ice at hotel is a puzzle

Times Staff Writers

Newport Beach police conceded Friday that they were more than a little baffled by the discovery they made during a routine search of a room at an upscale hotel: a woman’s body packed in dry ice.

“It’s very odd,” police spokesman Sgt. Evan Sailor said. “It’s not normal; it’s a little weird.”

How the woman died, how long her body had been in the hotel room and even who she is -- mysteries all, police said.

Officers discovered the fully clothed body at 10:15 p.m. Thursday in a rubber or plastic container while searching a room at the posh Fairmont Hotel on MacArthur Boulevard near John Wayne Airport. Police said they searched the room after seizing a small amount of narcotics and arresting a man on suspicion of possessing and selling cocaine.

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Stephen David Royds, 46, whom police said they had been watching for a while, was booked into the city jail on bail of $30,000. He has not been charged in the woman’s death.

What is unclear, Sailor said, is any connection between Royds and the body in his room. “He’s being talked to,” the spokesman said, “but we don’t have a clue.”

The Orange County coroner’s office said Friday that the victim, who has not been identified, did not appear to have been murdered. But the cause of her death has not yet been determined. Toxicology tests have been ordered.

A spokeswoman for the Fairmont said the staff was cooperating with police. “Dry ice is not available at the hotel,” Michelle Heston said of the sub-frozen compound known for its qualities as a coolant and the gaseous cloud it emits while evaporating.

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tony.barboza@latimes.com david.haldane@latimes.com


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