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Autopsy of siblings is inconclusive

Times Staff Writer

Orange County sheriff’s detectives Monday were still trying to unravel the strange deaths of a middle-aged woman and her brother discovered -- with shoe polish smeared across the man’s face -- through their sister’s visit Sunday morning in their home.

Autopsies conducted Monday were inconclusive, authorities said, although detectives do not believe the deaths to be a double homicide.

“It’s very bizarre,” Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jim Amormino said of the incident, which is being investigated as suspicious. “There could be 100 different scenarios” of what occurred.

The victims’ sister visited their home in the 1000 block of Huntridge Road, in the unincorporated foothills of northeast Orange County, near Tustin, just after 11 a.m. Sunday to pick up their 87-year-old father for an Easter gathering, authorities said.

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The woman found her sister, Jacquelyn Morgan Savage, 57, facedown in her bedroom with blood coming out of her mouth, Amormino said.

The sister believed Jacquelyn Savage had fallen and ran out of the house to call sheriff’s deputies. The autopsy determined that Savage probably did not die from a fall.

Deputies searching the house came across the body of Daniel Richard Savage, 51, facedown on the floor of his bedroom at the opposite end of the residence.

What authorities initially believed to be dried blood caked on Daniel Savage’s cheek, face and temple was found to be black shoe polish, Amormino said.

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Officials believe Savage drank some of the polish, Amormino said. A container of the substance was found near the man’s body. Although the shoe polish was “not toxic enough to kill,” Amormino said, Savage could have ingested the material in combination with something else.

Neither body showed obvious signs of trauma, such as gunshot or stab wounds, officials said.

Daniel Savage did own a handgun of some type, Amormino said, but the weapon is “definitely not part of this” investigation.

The siblings were caretakers for their elderly father, who has Alzheimer’s disease, Amormino said.

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Retired Col. Richard “Doc” Savage, a former Marine Corps pilot who flew missions during the Vietnam War, did not know where his son and daughter had gone or that they were dead. The older man lived in a separate part of the house; authorities do not consider him a suspect.

The siblings may have been dead for two days before they were discovered, Amormino said.

Although detectives have not identified suspects, Amormino assured residents: “If you live in the neighborhood, there’s certainly nothing to fear.”

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susannah.rosenblatt@ latimes.com


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