Mummified body found in Oakland building undergoing renovation

The Oakland skyline seen from Lake Merritt
A long-decaying body was found in an Oakland building undergoing renovation. Police don’t suspect foul play in the case.
(Ben Margot / Associated Press)

The decayed body of an adult man was discovered Wednesday in an Oakland building undergoing renovation, launching a police investigation.

The body was found around 1 p.m. by contractors working at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center near downtown Oakland.

“Upon arrival, officers located what appears to be a deceased adult male, in late stages of decay,” Oakland police said in a statement.

Federal marshals and Los Angeles police arrested one man on a Greyhound bus bound for Mexico and another in Inglewood.


The body appeared to have been in its location for “many years,” Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Ray Kelly was quoted as saying by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Kelly said the body had decomposed in a manner that had preserved or “mummified” it, the Chronicle reported.

“Under ideal conditions a body will harden and become like leather, similar to a mummy,” Kelly said in the Chronicle.

In an interview with The Times, Kelly said it did not appear that foul play was involved in the man’s death.

It appears that the man may have fallen from a higher elevation inside the building and fell behind the wall, Kelly said, adding that it did not look like he had been sewn up inside the wall.

“When that happened, we don’t know,” Kelly said. “It is probably a missing person, someone that somebody has been looking for.”

Due to the skeletal nature of the remains, it will be difficult to identify the body, Kelly said.

The Kaiser Convention Center, built in 1914, had previously hosted concerts and other events but has been closed since 2005. The city of Oakland approved a multimillion-dollar renovation of the property in 2019.