A foul odor emanating from a stone pillar outside a WinCo Foods store in Lancaster, California, led to a gruesome discovery Saturday afternoon, KNBC reported.
When a plumber summoned by the store manager to investigate a possible sewer leak began removing stones from the hollow column, he found a tennis shoe and a leg entombed inside, reported KCAL.
The body, discovered at 2:40 p.m. Saturday, may be that of a man sought on suspicion of auto theft who vanished Monday after fleeing from deputies onto the store’s roof, Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told KTLA.
Deputies assumed the man had gotten away, but the interior of the hollow stone pillars in front of the store can be reached from the roof, Corina told the station.
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“He may have gotten inside there and somehow gotten down the column, trying to hide from the deputies and then couldn’t get out,” Corina told KABC.
“It’s been over 100 degrees up here every day,” Corina told the station. “I can’t imagine being inside that column and just baking. It’s a strange development, and if he died that way, it’s a horrible way to die.”
Neighborhood residents were horrified by the discovery, KTLA reported.
“It’s terrible,” Sunshine York-Hanger told the station. “I was just thinking, you know, I wonder if he was trying to get anybody’s attention and nobody would know. Nobody would know where it’s coming from, the voice, you know, if that’s the case because I’m hoping it was instant if that was what happened.”
Los Angeles coroner’s officials removed the body from the pillar. An investigation into the man’s identity continues, KCAL reported.