NOVATO (BCN) – The removal of a man’s body from beneath a brick patio in the backyard at 4 Rebecca Way in Novato was completed around 11:20 a.m. Friday, Novato police Capt. Jim Berg said.
Berg said police are presuming the resident of the home, 74-year-old Dale Smith, was buried there but the Marin County coroner’s office will make a positive identification and determine a cause of death.
Neighbors said they had not seen Smith for several months and police consider Smith’s 55-year-old wife, Evelyn Smith, a “person of interest.”
Berg would not comment on the condition of the body. He said police were unable to determine if there are any wounds on the body because soil covered the remains.
The FBI and Novato police started disinterring the remains Wednesday. They stopped Thursday night to shore up the excavation area because rain destabilized the soil. The body was about four feet below the newly-placed brick patio, police said.
Berg said the autopsy will probably be conducted early next week.
The Rebecca Way residence is considered a crime scene and Berg said at the very least, someone improperly disposed of a body there.
Police received permission from Smith’s wife to search the house and backyard, Evelyn’s Smith’s attorney Hugh Levine said Friday morning.
“We have been very cooperative. We provided the keys to the house, an outbuilding and vehicles which have been examined and released,” Levine said.
Evelyn Smith, however, is not making any other statements to police, Levine said.
“This is in their (police) lap to figure out, not in our lap to explain,” Levine said.
“The ball is in their court. They need forensic pathology results and that might take a long time,” Levine said.
“It’s quite clear the only evidence of a crime is improper disposal of remains,” Levine said.
Levine said Dale Smith was suffering from bladder and esophageal cancer and congestive heart disease.
Levine, a prosecutor for 12 years, said Smith could have committed suicide, died of natural causes or at the hand of another person.
“It’s all speculation about the cause and manner of death. There are a lot of possibilities,” Levine said.
Berg said if it is Smith’s body, police will again interview family, neighbors and Evelyn Smith and try to determine how the body got in the backyard.
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