Body found in back seat of car at beach

A corpse whose arm was spotted sticking out from the back seat of a car late Saturday night might have been killed in Oakland and then driven to San Mateo County, officials said.

Just after 11 p.m. Saturday, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Deputy Keith O’Dell investigated a car parked after closing hours at the Montara State Beach parking lot just south of Devil’s Slide on Highway 1. O’Dell spoke with a man sitting — apparently alone — in the driver’s seat when he saw an arm dangling under a cover on the back seat. The driver was detained for questioning, according to a release by the San Mateo county sheriff’s office. It is uncertain if the driver has been charged with any crime.

The case is being investigated as a possible homicide and the body was determined to be that of an Oakland man in his 40s, whose identity is being withheld by the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office until next of kin has been notified. At 5:30 p.m. Sunday, a deputy coroner said the office is having trouble getting in touch with the man’s family.

Though the body was found in San Mateo County, the case is being investigated by the Oakland Police Department’s homicide division. Oakland investigators acknowledged being charged with the case and confirmed that they believe the homicide happened in Oakland. They declined to comment further or identify the man who was detained Sunday morning.

San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, though he wouldn’t reveal any specifics on the case, said the only time a crime investigation is transferred is when there’s strong evidence the crime was committed elsewhere. He said the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office is no longer involved since the case moved. No one at the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office was available for comment Sunday.

Erin Irber, whose parents are longtime residents of Montara, a small beach town, said she drove by the parking lot around midnight and saw about nine sheriff’s cars surrounding a parked car in the lot. Her parents, Sandy and Joe Irber, drove by about 15 minutes later and saw a white sheet coming from one of the passenger-side doors.

Another Montara resident, who declined to be identified, was walking her dog along the beach Sunday. She said she also had driven past the crime scene Saturday night. Though she’d heard nothing about the case, she guessed that the crime had happened elsewhere.

“They just come here to dump the body,” she said. “It’s gruesome.”

kworth@examiner.com

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