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California police unearth a Mercedes reported stolen in 1992

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Landscapers made a strange discovery last week at a home in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley: a Mercedes-Benz that was allegedly stolen decades ago, buried four or five feet underground, with bags of concrete unused inside.

Dead dogs searched the Atherton property on Friday, and authorities used ground-penetrating radar to search for “anything unusual,” the Atherton Police Department said in a news release.

Although the dogs gave what authorities described as “a slight notification of possible human remains”, police said no remains were found at the scene. The Mercedes, a convertible, was reported stolen in 1992 in nearby Palo Alto. The car, according to police, may have been buried on the property during this decade.

Police did not say who owned the car. They said they believe the owner is dead, although they are awaiting confirmation from the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Police said they believe the vehicle was buried long before the current owners moved into the $15 million home. The owners notified the police when the landscapers made the discovery.

The owner of the house at the time the car was reported stolen in 1992 was Johnny Bocktune Lew, who according to property records sold the house in 2014. Lew had a criminal history and spent time in jail after he been convicted of murder and attempted murder.

So far, police have not confirmed any connection between Lew and the buried car. Lew built the Atherton House in 1990, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. His daughter, Jacq Searle, 34, who once lived there with Lew and his mother, told the newspaper she was shocked to learn the car had been buried on the property. Her father died in 2015 while living in Washington state, she said.

Lew grew up in Hong Kong and worked as a police officer there before moving to the United States in 1959, court records show. About two years later, he married his first cousin, Marguerite, in South Carolina. The couple later moved to Southern California, where Lew attended El Camino Junior College and met Karen Gervasi, the woman he would ultimately be charged with killing.

Lew and Gervasi were romantically involved in 1965, and Marguerite learned of the affair, according to court records. In December, Gervasi was shot in the head while at Lew’s apartment. Lew said Gervasi accidentally shot himself in the temple while showing him one of his handguns, according to court records. He was convicted of second degree murder and went to jail. In 1968, the California Supreme Court overturned the conviction, citing hearsay statements that had been improperly admitted into evidence.

Less than a decade later, in 1977, Lew was convicted of two counts of attempted murder in Los Angeles County as part of a separate felony and served three years in prison, the Chronicle reported.

In 1999, Lew was again arrested. Law enforcement officials said he paid undercover officers tens of thousands of dollars in cash and gold watches to sink a $1.2million 56ft twin-engine yacht to pocket insurance money, the Chronicle reported at the time. The outcome of the case is unclear.

Searle told the Chronicle that she spent her early years visiting her father in prison and described his upbringing as dysfunctional.

“I feel like we all grew up with a number of traumas at home,” Searle told the newspaper.

And of the car found buried in her childhood yard, she said: ‘It wouldn’t surprise me, just because of how sketchy my father was.

The Mercedes was removed from the property over the weekend, KNTV reported. Atherton Police Commander. Daniel Larsen told reporters at a news conference on Friday that the “slight notice” of possible remains by the dead dogs could have been a reaction to old bones, vomit or blood. He added that the police had not yet determined whether their investigation was “criminal or not criminal”.

Asked about Lew, Larsen said, “We’ve heard that name come up, but haven’t confirmed through our sources that he actually owns this vehicle through the DMV.”

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