Car reported stolen in 92 found buried at California mansion

Oct 21, 2022, 6:41 PM | Updated: 6:49 pm

ATHERTON, Calif. (AP) — Three decades after a car was reported stolen in Northern California, police are digging the missing convertible out of the yard of a $15 million mansion built by a man with a history of arrests for murder, attempted murder and insurance fraud.

The convertible Mercedes Benz, filled with bags of unused concrete, was discovered Thursday by landscapers in the affluent town of Atherton in Silicon Valley, Atherton Mayor Rick DeGolia said, reading a statement from police.

Although cadaver dogs alerted to possible human remains on Thursday, none had been found more than 24 hours after technicians with the San Mateo County Crime Lab began excavating the car, DeGolia said.

Police believe the car was buried 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) deep in the backyard of the home sometime in the 1990s — before the current owners bought the home. The car was reported stolen in September 1992 in nearby Palo Alto, he said.

By Friday, the technicians had been able to excavate the passenger side of the convertible, which was buried with its top down. They also opened the trunk where they found more bags of unused cement. Cadaver dogs were again brought back to the house and again “made a slight notification of possible human remains,” DeGolia said.

Atherton Police Cmdr. Daniel Larsen said the dogs could be reacting to human remains, old bones, blood, vomit, or a combination of those things.

He said the possible owner of the car is believed to be deceased but officials are waiting for DMV records to confirm that.

Larsen said the current homeowners were not under investigation.

The sprawling home with a pool and tennis court was built by Johnny Lew, a man with a history of arrests for murder, attempted murder and insurance fraud, his daughter, Jacq Searle, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

She said the family lived at the property in the 1990s, which is when Atherton police believe the car was buried and that her father had died in 2015 in Washington state.

In 1966, Lew was found guilty of murdering a 21-year-old woman in Los Angeles County. He was released from prison after the California Supreme Court reversed the conviction in 1968, citing hearsay evidence that should not have been allowed at trial, The Chronicle reported, citing court records.

Records showed that in 1977 Lew was convicted of two counts of attempted murder, also in Los Angeles County, and spent three years in prison.

In the late 1990s, Lew was arrested for insurance fraud after he hired undercover police officers to take a $1.2 million yacht “out west of the Golden Gate Bridge into international waters and put it on the bottom,” The Chronicle reported.

Larsen wouldn’t say if police believe the vehicle was registered to Lew.

“We have heard that name come up, but we have not confirmed through our sources that he in fact owned that vehicle,” Larsen said.

The sprawling home and property is valued at least $15 million, according to online real estate listings.

Atherton is one of the wealthiest towns in the U.S., with about 7,000 residents within its nearly 5 square miles (13 square kilometers).

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A Shell logo is seen at a petrol station in London, on March 8, 2022. Global energy giant Sh...
Associated Press

Shell profit doubles to record as war drives up energy costs

LONDON (AP) — Global energy giant Shell said Thursday that its annual profits doubled to a record high last year as oil and natural gas prices soared after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. London-based Shell Plc posted adjusted earnings of $39.9 billion for 2022 in its financial results for the final three months of the year. […]
4 hours ago
Associated Press

Turkey slams West for security warnings ‘harming’ tourism

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey on Thursday slammed a group of Western countries which temporarily closed down their consulates in Istanbul over security concerns, accusing them of waging “psychological warfare” and attempting to wreck Turkey’s tourism. Germany, the Netherlands and Britain were among countries that shut down their consulates in the city of around 16 […]
4 hours ago
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen waits for the start of the weekly college of com...
Associated Press

High-level Kyiv visit aims to deepen EU-Ukraine ties

BRUSSELS (AP) — Senior members of the European Union’s executive branch traveled to Ukraine on Thursday looking to boost relations with the war-torn country and pave the way for it to one day join the bloc, but concerns over corruption and democratic deficiencies remain. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen led a team of […]
4 hours ago
The European Central Bank, center, is pictured during sunrise in Frankfurt, Germany, Wednesday, Feb...
Associated Press

European Central Bank set to outdo Fed with half-point hike

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank is set for another large interest rate increase to fight painfully high inflation even after the U.S. Federal Reserve slowed its pace, a divergence that underlines Europe’s later start and could speed the euro’s rebound from recent lows against the dollar. ECB President Christine Lagarde has made […]
4 hours ago
Emergency workers and local residents clear the rubble after a Russian rocket hit an apartment buil...
Associated Press

EU officials visit Kyiv as Russia strikes civilian target

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Top European Union officials arrived in Kyiv on Thursday for talks with Ukrainian officials as rescue crews dug through the rubble of an apartment building in eastern Ukraine struck by a Russian missile, killing at least three people and wounding about 20 others. The scene of devastation in the eastern Donetsk […]
4 hours ago
Associated Press

Austria expels 4 Russian diplomats based in Vienna

VIENNA (AP) — Austria’s government said Thursday that it has ordered four diplomats based in Vienna, including two at Moscow’s mission to U.N. agencies in the city, to leave the country. The Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement that two diplomats at the Russian Embassy had “engaged in acts incompatible with their diplomatic status” […]
4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Car reported stolen in 92 found buried at California mansion