*Update 4* Suspicious Circumstance Press Release:
On Thursday, October 20th, 2022, at about 8:50am, Atherton police officers responded to a residence in the 300 block of Stockbridge Avenue regarding a buried vehicle that was located during a landscaping project.
Due to the unknown nature of why the vehicle was buried, cadaver dogs were called to the scene. The cadaver dogs made a slight notification of possible human remains. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, Forensic Laboratory was contacted and sent technicians to assist with excavating the vehicle. At about 10:00pm on October 20th, crime scene technicians stopped working for the night. On October 21st, at about 8:00am, crime scene technicians resumed excavating the vehicle. The majority of the passenger compartment of the vehicle had been excavated. On October 21st, at about 11:00am, a cadaver dog was brought back to the scene. The cadaver dog again made a slight notification of human remains.
On Saturday, October 22nd, the vehicle was removed from the property via tow truck and transported to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, Forensic Laboratory for further inspection and processing. After the vehicle was removed, a cadaver dog was brought back to the scene of the excavation. The cadaver dog again made notification of possible human remains.
On Sunday, October 23rd, ground penetrating radar was used to search the excavation site and surrounding area. This search did not reveal anything unusual/suspicious and no human remains were located. This ended our on-scene investigation, and the excavation site was released back to the current home owner.
On Friday, October 28th, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, Forensic Laboratory completed processing the vehicle for human remains and no human remains were located.
Detectives are still investigating this incident and it is believed the vehicle was possibly buried for insurance fraud purposes.
The vehicle was buried sometime in the 1990’s and was buried approximately 4 – 5 feet into the ground. The burial time frame was based on the vehicle being reported as stolen to the Palo Alto Police Department and an insurance claim both from September of 1992.
The vehicle is a 1991 Mercedes Benz 500 SL with a CA license plate of LEWJ4. The registered owner of the vehicle was John Lew and he owned the Stockbridge Avenue property from 1991-2009. Mr. Lew is deceased.
No additional information is available at this time.
Steven D McCulley
Chief of Police