- Associated Press - Thursday, April 28, 2011

 

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Complaints of an unusual smell led police to discover a woman’s badly decomposed body inside a California studio apartment where they say a man had been living with the corpse for at least a week.

Santa Cruz police officers found the 30-year-old woman’s body after entering the apartment about 7 p.m. Tuesday. Investigators haven’t been able to establish how the woman died because of the deteriorated state of her body, authorities said Wednesday.

Investigators also haven’t determined how long the woman had been dead, but Santa Cruz police Deputy Chief Steve Clark said he was comfortable saying it had been at least a week.

The apartment’s resident, 63-year-old John Clauer, was in custody on a no-bail parole hold based on a prior drug conviction, Deputy Chief Clark said.

It wasn’t clear if Mr. Clauer and the woman were sharing the apartment as roommates or if they were romantically involved. Investigators were questioning neighbors and canvassing the area to try to figure out the relationship between the two, Deputy Chief Clark said.

“If it is indeed a homicide, then he becomes a suspect,” Deputy Chief Clark said. “He could also be charged with failure to report a death as appropriate.”

Mr. Clauer has had what Ceputy Chief Clark described as a “storied history” with Santa Cruz police, having been arrested previously on drug- and alcohol-related offenses, though it wasn’t clear how much time Mr. Clauer had served behind bars.

Mr. Clauer didn’t have an attorney by Wednesday evening.

An autopsy was planned for later this week. The woman’s name hasn’t been released.

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