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Mummified Remains Still a Baffling Mystery

Chuck Squatriglia, The San Francisco Chronicle

Even as they sifted through evidence Thursday, Davis police remained tight-lipped about the mystery surrounding the mummified remains of four people found dumped outside a trailer park trash bin earlier this month.

The case has so far stumped the police, who are treating the discovery as a homicide but admit they don't know how or when the people died or where the remains, found June 3, came from. They have called in the FBI and a forensic anthropologist to help crack the case but said they still have more questions than answers.

"We're no better off than when we started," said Lt. Jim Harritt, department spokesman.

The remains were found in a container -- which Harritt declined to describe -- next to a trash Dumpster at Slatter's Court, 1075 Olive Dr. The manager's son hauled the trash to the landfill before discovering the remains and notifying police, Harritt said.

The remains have yielded few clues, and the Yolo County coroner and an expert from the state Department of Justice were unable to determine the age, race or sex of the victims, Harritt said. Stumped, they called in a forensic anthropologist at California State University in Chico. He so far has been able only to identify some of the remains as having been female.

"The rest are still up in the air," he said.

Meanwhile, investigators have focused on a resident of Slatter's Court. Harritt would not identify the man -- whom he described as a "person of interest" and not a suspect -- or say what led authorities to his home, which they searched Wednesday.

"We retrieved a number of items," he said. "We need to sort through what we've got, and some of it might go to the FBI crime lab."

Among the theories police are considering are that the victims met with foul play and that their remains were taken from a research facility or grave site.

"The only crime we know we have is the improper disposal of human remains," Harritt said. But authorities lack the evidence to call the man a suspect in even that crime, he said.

Authorities said they have found no missing-persons cases that might be linked to the remains.

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