Search for possible human remains in Santa Ana backyard

Friday, July 29, 2016
EMBED <>More Videos

An investigation was underway for possible human remains that may be buried in the backyard of a Santa Ana home.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- A search is underway for human remains that may be buried in the backyard of a Santa Ana home.

The investigation began after detectives received information from an anonymous source on Wednesday that a body may have been buried 30 to 32 years ago in the backyard of a home in the 600 block of South Center Street.

When police contacted the homeowner, who moved into the house 15 years ago, he informed detectives that workers he had hired to redo the backyard had found what may have been human bones about 10 years ago.

Authorities said the workers discarded the two bones, believed to be below-the-knee bones, and the police were not contacted.

"When (detectives) got here, they introduced themselves, and he said, 'I expected you to show up someday,'" said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna of the Santa Ana Police Department.

The homeowner said he didn't see the bones, but said he found a knife. Police said the homeowner then discarded that knife.

"Then he laid cement over the area," Bertagna said.

When ABC7 talked to the homeowner, identified as Eduardo Santa Maria, he said he didn't see an issue with discarding the items without contacting authorities.

"I don't see the problem," Santa Maria told ABC7.

Some neighbors were baffled when they heard the news.

"That's the most incredible part to me," neighbor Drew Papaioanu said. "How could you find bones and just throw them away?"

A cadaver dog searched the backyard and got a hit in the same place where the homeowner said the bones were found a decade ago.

The Orange County Fire Authority has responded and was drilling holes in the cement, which is 6-inches thick.

"Then the dog will be brought back. If he, in fact, hits on the same area, we'll progress from there," Bertagna said.

Authorities said the homeowner was cooperating with the investigation.

Detectives were trying to figure out who lived at the home 30 years ago and who the possible remains could've belonged to.

"What kind of history did those folks have? Did we have contact with those folks? Were there any missing person reports way back then?" asked Bertagna.