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Landscaping Work Uncovers Human Skull, Bones In Santa Ana Backyard

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SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — The former owner of a Santa Ana home where skeletal remains were found was in police custody Monday.

Larry Thomas Dominguez was booked late Sunday night or early Monday morning on suspicion of murder, Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.

Larry Thomas Dominguez (courtesy Santa Ana PD)

Larry Thomas Dominguez (courtesy Santa Ana PD)

Police arrested Dominguez based on the evidence found in his former backyard and the statements he made to detectives who questioned him Sunday, Bertagna said.

Phillip Mendez has co-owned the property in the 2500 block of N. Hesperian Street with Dominguez since 2007 after the home was destroyed by a fire.

Mendez’s daughter Vanessa and her boyfriend moved into the home last summer.

Vanessa’s boyfriend and his brother dug up skeletal remains with a mini tractor around 1:30 p.m. Sunday, according to police.

“It was obvious it was a human skull and ribs.  And just body parts,” Vanessa said.

Dominguez — who lives in a mobile home on Fifth Street — allegedly warned Mendez to avoid digging in the backyard of the property.

“He had said there was a dog buried here.  And later on it had changed to puppies and they were his sisters,” Mendez said.

Bertagna had previously said detectives did not believe the current owners were connected the death of the unidentified victim.

“It was hard to be here.  It’s very sad it’s very scary.  And I hope they can get everything resolved,” Vanessa said.

Authorities are now trying to determine if the house fire was arson and are also looking into any missing persons reports from the mid-2000s.

Police were also interviewing the previous owners, who lived at the location for 20 years.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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