Police initially arrested Larry Thomas Dominguez, 65, on suspicion of murder after a couple unearthed human remains from a home Dominguez used to own. The discovery was made Sunday in the 2500 block of North Hesperian Street.
Cpl. Anthony Bertagna with the Santa Ana Police Department said detectives believe the remains are that of Dominguez's 83-year-old father, Wallace Benjamin Dominguez.
Police said they suspected Dominguez of murder because of statements he made to detectives while being interviewed. But on Tuesday, the Orange County District Attorney's Office filed a grand theft charge against Dominguez. Authorities said it appears the suspect has been collecting his father's Social Security benefit checks in excess of $100,000.
"It is believed by our detectives that since at least 2005, the suspect in this case has been collecting and cashing checks from benefits that were attributed to his father," said Bertagna. "There is no indication that there is a death certificate or death record of the father. Our belief is that he has been deceased since at least 2005."
Authorities said they are not ruling out the possibility that the suspect could face murder charges, but that will depend on what the coroner determines as the cause of death.