SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A Santa Ana couple linked to a woman’s body discovered inside a refrigerator at a vacated garage told detectives they failed to report the death to authorities because of their immigration status, investigators said Tuesday.
Police were called to the 1000 block of North Jackson Street about 2 p.m. on Dec. 17 by a homeowner who said a couple had moved out two weeks ago, Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.
The home has a garage and another structure in the back, where rooms were being rented. The most recent residents of the garage moved out and left the refrigerator, Bertagna said.
According to investigators, the landlord stated a strong odor had been coming from the refrigerator. When the landlord inspected the refrigerator, she found the remains of a female inside, police said.
The unidentified couple identified the remains as Ricarda Reyes-Villalobos, who was about 50 years old at the time of her death, according to investigators.
Police say the couple said they were caregivers for Ricarda and that she had passed away sometime in Aug. 2014.
“The couple told detectives they did not report the death to authorities because of their immigration status. They stated they planned on returning to the residence for their property when they had the sufficient funds to do so,” according to a police statement.
An autopsy done by the Orange County Coroner’s office found no signs of trauma that would indicate the cause of death.
The investigation is ongoing.
Santa Ana police detectives will be working with Mexican authorities in an attempt to properly identify the female body, authorities said.