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SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco police officers contacted by Brian Egg’s worried friends and neighbors weren’t sure what they would find when they finally gained access to his home -- but a headless human torso submerged in a fish tank was not likely on that list.
Officers were able to get inside the missing 65-year-old’s home on Aug. 14, after neighbors called 911 to report a suspicious person -- and a truck from a crime scene cleaning service -- outside Egg’s home, San Francisco police officials said. The people there with the truck, including the man who hired the crew, were detained for questioning and officers went inside.
“Officers did not locate Mr. Egg, but found evidence including cleaning products and suspicious odors in the residence,” officials said in a news release. “On Aug. 15, the (San Francisco Police Department) homicide detail took over the investigation and a search warrant was authorized for Mr. Egg’s residence. While searching the location, SFPD investigators found human remains inside a fish tank.”
The San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office is still working on identifying the remains, as well as determining a cause and manner of death, police officials said. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that decomposition was so advanced that even the body’s sex could not be determined.
The body’s head and hands had been removed and cleaning products had been dumped into the tank with the torso, according to the Chronicle. The medical examiner is using DNA from Egg’s family to determine whether the body found in his home is his, the newspaper reported.
Friends leave candles in front of Brian Egg’s home in SF. The body found inside his house has not been identified but no one has seen him for months. Tonight at 11 how police responded to calls of concern. @nbcbayarea pic.twitter.com/ih293k7L7w— Jean Elle (@nbcjeanelle) August 29, 2018
The saga of Brian Egg began in late July and early August, when police first heard from Egg’s family and neighbors, who were worried because they had not seen him in a while. Scott Free, a neighbor, told the Chronicle that he first became concerned in June, when he stopped seeing Egg walking his dog or watering his plants outside his home.
His concern grew in July when two strangers began answering Egg’s door, claiming that they were house-sitting while Egg was on vacation, Free told the newspaper. That’s when he started calling police.
Officers went to Egg’s Clara Street home twice, but got no response at the door and saw nothing suspicious that would warrant them forcing their way inside, the news release said.
A missing person investigation began Aug. 7, when Egg’s sister reported him missing. A third trip to Egg’s home also produced no information on his whereabouts, officials said.
“There wasn’t any evidence to the officers that appeared suspicious at the time that would lead them to take further action in this investigation,” Commander Greg McEachern, who heads the SFPD’s Investigations Bureau, said during a Tuesday news conference. “We don’t make entry into houses because someone has made a missing person report. People have a right to their privacy.”
Detectives who launched a more intensive investigation following the Aug. 15 discovery of the remains made two arrests: Robert McCaffrey, 52, of San Francisco, was arrested at Egg’s home. Lance Silva, 39, also of San Francisco, was picked up the following day at a motel.
Officials said the pair was booked into the San Francisco County Jail on suspicion of murder, fraud, theft, identity theft and elder abuse. Both had the charges later dismissed pending further investigation by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, but Silva remains in custody at the Santa Rita Jail on a probation violation out of Alameda County, police officials said.
Neighbors of missing Brian Egg called 911 @SFPD when they saw this Company (a pro crime scene cleanup) working on his house. Police arrived and detained a man who had hired the cleaners. They soon found a headless body inside. The @SFDAOffice let that detained man walk free. pic.twitter.com/veTGxeJKzt— Christopher Jewett (@sfnewsman) August 28, 2018
Free called the situation “horrifying” when he spoke to the Chronicle Monday outside Egg’s home.
“The police department could have done a lot more in the early stages,” Free said. “It seemed like they weren’t taking it very seriously. There was a dead body in there all along and they were standing right next to it. What if we hadn’t said anything?”
Police officials at one point called Egg’s home and heard an answering machine message saying he was out of town, McEachern said Tuesday. Free and Egg’s brother, Devon Egg, who lives in Florida, both said that he did not have an answering machine.
Neighbors who knew him well also said Brian Egg was not one to travel, the Chronicle said. Though he was a bartender at a renowned San Francisco gay bar, the Stud, in the 1980s, he no longer had steady employment.
“He was kind of fringe,” Free told the newspaper. “He had no job and lived on the margins. He was eccentric. A vacation seemed very implausible.”
He was, however, a person who would occasionally take in drifters who needed a place to stay over the years, his neighbors told the newspaper.
Investigators are asking for the public’s help in the case, specifically from individuals or businesses contacted by anyone claiming to be Brian Egg, or anyone who may have assisted with financial transactions related to Egg or his home at 228 Clara St. in San Francisco.
Anyone with information on the case can contact the San Francisco police anonymously at 415-575-4444 or text-a-tip to TIP411 with SFPD at the start of the message.