by Susie Steimle
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Police were awaiting an autopsy report after officers discovered a headless, hand-less body in a fish tank at the San Francisco home of a missing man, police said Tuesday.
The remains were discovered at a home on Clara Street in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood sometime earlier this month, the city’s medical examiner confirmed.
The home’s resident, 65-year-old Brian Egg, has been reported missing by a relative earlier this month after neighbors had also called police saying they feared Egg was dead inside the home.
During a press conference Tuesday, police said two suspects have been identified in connection with the case; 39-year-old Lance Silva and 52-year-old Robert McCaffrey, both of San Francisco.
Police said following multiple calls from neighbors beginning in late July, officers performed two “wellness checks” where they simply knocked on the door and no one answered, so they did not go inside.
On August 7th, Egg’s sister filed a missing persons report and police went back to the house. Again, no one answered the door and nothing appeared suspicious so they still didn’t go inside.
“We don’t just go breaking down doors because someone reports someone missing,” said police Cmdr. Greg McEachern at the press conference.
“But you had family and neighbors saying over and over at that time they thought he was dead,” this reporter asked.
“I don’t have information saying someone thought he was dead, just that there was people that were coming and going and they hadn’t seen him,” said McEachern.
Finally, on August 14th concerned neighbors called again reporting suspicious persons and a crime scene cleaning truck. When police arrived they arrested McCaffrey on site and Silva at a hotel on 6th street later that night. At the time, officers did not find Egg but did find evidence including cleaning products and suspicious odors inside the home.
The next day, the SFPD homicide detail took over the investigation and obtained a search warrant. During the search, investigators found the body inside the fish tank in a concealed area of the home.
The remains were in an advanced state of decomposition and have yet to be positively identified.
“If we didn’t say anything would it just have been ignored all this time?” asked neighbor Scott Free. “The police didn’t seem to take much interest at first.”
Police acknowledged that if neighbors hadn’t called complaining about the crime scene truck they might never have found the body to this day.
“We might not, that’s correct,” said McEachern. “And that’s where you usually rely on family or someone to let you in to the place.”
Neighbors called police Tuesday night and said they found what appeared to be a hiding place between two buildings with a large bag tucked inside.
Officers arrived and found hypodermic needles and some trash inside. The whereabouts of the victim’s hands and head are still unknown.
While the remains are still unidentified, Free said he thinks he knows what the final outcome will be.
“They haven’t officially said if it’s him, but I’d be so surprised if it turned out to be someone else,” he said.
Both Silva and McCaffrey were initially charged with financial crimes, identity theft and homicide; however, the district attorney’s office discharged the case pending further investigation.
Silva is still in custody in Alameda County on probation violations. McCaffrey has been released. Police sources told KPIX that without confirmation on the manner of death, time of death, or identification of the body, investigators have been forced to put the homicide charges in this case on hold.