A San Francisco woman is accused of chopping her roommate into pieces and hiding the dismembered body in a storage space at their Mission District home for weeks after an eviction dispute turned deadly, according to court records filed Wednesday.
Lisa Gonzales, 47, is facing a murder charge after police found a plastic storage container filled with the dismembered remnants of her 61-year-old roommate and covered in maggots at their home at 255 14th St. on June 2. The body parts were stuffed into plastic bags that reeked of decay and had dark human fluids bubbling from their sides.
The Medical Examiner’s Office has yet to identify the victim but public records show Margaret Mamer, 61, lived at the address. A friend posted on Facebook Monday that Mamer had been reported missing to the San Francisco Police Department.
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“This is a very concerning case for us,” District Attorney George Gascon told reporters at the Hall of Justice, where Gonzales was expected to be arraigned on Wednesday. “We’re very disturbed with the allegations.”
Prosecutors say Gonzales offered the victim a place to live for $400 a month back in August 2017 when the victim fell on hard times. But earlier this year, the victim began breaking and misplacing household items and would not leave after Gonzales threatened to evict her in April.
Thirty days later on May 15, another roommate came home at lunchtime and the apartment smelled like “vinegar,” according to court records. Gonzales told the second roommate not to enter the bathroom. The following day, that roommate heard the sound of sawing in the bathroom and the apartment smelled like “rotten eggs.”
When the second roommate asked where the victim was, Gonzales allegedly said she left, “but not the way she should have.” The roommate later found a hacksaw under the sink in the laundry room and a large plastic container was missing.
Court records confirm a friend filed a missing persons report for the victim June 1. A day earlier, a third roommate had gone to Ingleside Police Station to report that they believed their roommate had committed murder.
Police found the chopped up body during a well-being check on the victim on June 2.
According to court records, Gonzales gave officers the keys to search the storage area and only objected to the search once the officers opened the plastic container.
Police eventually obtained a search warrant and opened a large plastic bag in the container, where officers found smaller bags filled with many body parts including severed arms and legs. The head and torso were still connected.
Prosecutor Adam Maldonado said Gonzales went through “great lengths” to conceal her crime.
“After senselessly taking the life of a 61-year-old woman, the defendant dismembered the victim’s body, cutting through flesh and bone,” Maldonado wrote in court documents. “But for the welfare check conducted by police at the residence on June 2, 2018, it is unknown how long the victim’s body would have continued to remain hidden from police and the public.”
Merchants in the area told the San Francisco Examiner police blocked off the street over the weekend while authorities in hazmat suits entered the building.
“I’m shocked,” said Giuseppe Sircana, a construction worker on a job two buildings down from the house. “I could expect something can happen in an argument, but dismembering a body — that’s crazy.”
In an interview with police following her arrest, Gonzales allegedly said she and the victim had gotten into an argument May 15 when the victim refused to move out. Prosecutors say Gonzales told police “she thinks she ‘flipped,’ but didn’t have a ‘real recollection’ of what happened.”
Gonzales told police “probably nothing good” had happened, according to court records.
Gonzales did not appear in court for her arraignment on Wednesday. She is being held without bail and is next scheduled for a court date Friday, when she will likely enter a plea.
Alex Lilian, an attorney for Gonzales with the Public Defender’s Office, told reporters Gonzales was under evaluation and that he had yet to receive information about the case.
Ian Williams contributed to this story.