Riverside, CA – The body of an 87-year-old retired homicide detective was discovered inside a freezer in her garage over the weekend.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LACSD) Detective Sergeant Mariam Travis served her department for 27 years before retiring in 1990, KABC reported.
She spent the last 11 years of her career in the LACSD Homicide Bureau.
Riverside police received a call from Travis’ concerned out-of-state family members on Sept. 12, asking for them to check on her, Riverside Police Officer Javier Cabrera said, according to USA Today.
The family members said they hadn’t been able to reach the retired homicide detective for months.
Police responded to Travis’ home at approximately 9:35 a.m. and made contact with her 64-year-old daughter, who was also living at the home, KABC reported.
Neighbors said the daughter goes by the name of Carol, The Press-Enterprise reported.
“Our officers noticed a lot of inconsistencies with what she was saying,” Officer Cabrera said, according to USA Today. “Something wasn’t adding up.”
Police ended up detaining Carol and went inside the home to look for Travis, KABC reported.
Officer Cabrera said the inside of the home was “disheveled” and piled high with trash, according to The Press-Enterprise.
There was also a foul odor amid the hoarding-like conditions throughout the residence, he said.
Police ultimately discovered Travis’ body stuffed inside a standup freezer in her garage, USA Today reported.
It is unclear how she died or how long her body had been inside the freezer, which was operating, police said.
Officer Cabrera said Travis’ body was not decomposed and an autopsy will take place, The Press-Enterprise reported.
Police questioned Carol and have since released her, according to KABC.
Officer Cabrera said the autopsy will hopefully help determine whether or not charges will be filed, USA Today reported.
Travis’ home also had multiple security cameras, which are part of the investigation, according to KABC.
“You hear about cases like this, but in my 19 years, I haven’t personally seen one like it,” Officer Cabrera said. “Regardless of the circumstances, it’s tragic.”
Randy Hayes, 63, said he has lived next door to Travis for the past 27 years, The Press-Enterprise reported.
“Shocking. Very shocking,” Hayes said of the gruesome discovery.
He said his neighbors kept to themselves and that he knew very little about them, but that their infrequent conversations in passing were always pleasant.
“I cannot overstate enough how reclusive they were,” Hayes told The Press-Enterprise.
Hayes’ landscaper, 63-year-old Cedric Valentin, said he has spoken with Travis many times over the past 18 years, but that he hadn’t seen her for approximately four months.
Valentin said he did talk to Carol outside about a month ago.
“I asked Carol, ‘Where’s Miriam?’’ he recounted to The Press-Enterprise. “She said, ‘She’s in the house.’ I didn’t think anything of it. … It’s sad. Especially because she’s little, sweet Miriam. She’s in my heart, you know?”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva offered his condolences in a statement to KABC.
“Our hearts are broken by this news and the entire LASD family mourns her loss,” Sheriff Villanueva said.
According to Travis’ step-granddaughter, Oklahoma resident Kerri Nickell, Travis became distant after her husband passed away in 1992, The Press-Enterprise reported.
Nickell said Travis cut off contact with her extended family and changed all the locks on her home.
“It was like, this is my grandmother one day, and then we never heard from her again,” she told The Press-Enterprise.
Nickell said Travis and her daughter were “kind of hermits,” and that they didn’t respond when family members would send them photos or other correspondence.