The scariest part of Palo Alto used to be the number of failed tech startups, until now. Last week, authorities dug up a car in the backyard of a Silicon Valley mansion which only led to more questions about the car’s contents and owner.
Landscapers in Atherton—an affluent California suburb located in Silicon Valley—made a startling discovery in the backyard of a mansion according to The Guardian. Authorities were notified last week of a Mercedes-Benz buried approximately 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) beneath the soil in the mansion’s backyard. This weekend, authorities exhumed the car only to find it full of unused bags of concrete. While no human remains were directly found by authorities, cadaver dogs reportedly signaled the possible presence of them three separate times.
“This examination did not reveal anything unusual or suspicious at the scene and no human remains were located,” Atherton Police said in a statement, as quoted by The Guardian. “This concluded our on-scene investigation.”
According to a more in-depth report by Mercury News, the car belonged to Johnny Bocktune Lew, a man with a checkered history of criminal activity—including insurance fraud. Bocktune allegedly reported the car stolen from a Stanford shopping center in 1992 and was able to walk away with $87,000 in the form of an insurance payout. For reference, that’s over $180,000 adjusted for inflation.
“This book has 15 chapters in it and we’ve only got two chapters. I don’t know if we’re ever going to get the other chapters, but I sure hope we do because it is an interesting story,” San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told Mercury News.
While that may feel like the end of the story, questions remain. If no human remains were found, what scent did the cadaver dogs pick up on? What were the bags of concrete for? Wagstaffe also pointed out that the Benz was likely new when Lew reported it stolen, and argues that Lew wouldn’t necessarily be making a gain with this potential scam. Lew sold the mansion property in 2014 and died a year later, leaving the truth behind the mysterious buried car yet to be determined.