Buried man’s death ruled a homicide

One piece of a puzzle surrounding a dead man found buried in the sand at Ocean Beach may have fallen into place — the death recently has been ruled a homicide by the Medical Examiner’s Office.

In the early hours of Jan. 15, a group that started a bonfire on the beach across from Beach Chalet found the body of 41-year-old Paul Lenz.

Lenz appeared to be in his mid-40s, was overweight and looked very pale, National Park Service spokesman Rich Weideman said. With Lenz being found with only a pair of socks on, three cloth bracelets around his left wrist and an “abstract” tattoo on his chest, U.S. Park Police investigators had little in the way of clues.

Federal authorities, who are investigating the homicide because the body was found on national park land, originally considered the death suspicious because it was clear that the body was deliberately buried in the sand.

The medical examiner’s report, however, concluded that there was much more to Lenz’s death. He was severely beaten, with dozens of bruises and cuts about his head and body. At least one blow had cracked the man’s skull and several of his ribs were broken.

In addition, the toxicology report revealed Lenz’s blood alcohol content was about 0.25 percent, three times the legal limit. Traces of the active ingredient in Benadryl were also found in Lenz’s blood. The two in combination multiply their respective effects, leading to delirium and drowsiness.

Now, federal investigators are waiting for the results of DNA tests to arrive from the FBI labs at Quantico, Va., and are hoping for any more information, Weideman said.

“Leads are running short and we’re asking for the public’s help. If anybody saw anything suspicious that night, we’re hoping they’ll come forward,” he said.

Homicides on Golden Gate National Recreational Area property are relatively rare, Weideman said. In 2006, one man was killed and another seriously injured when a man carrying a bag of weapons opened fire on a group of hang gliders at Fort Funston. The shooter would end up killing himself.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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