The body of an 87-year-old retired sheriff's detective was found inside her home's freezer, leading police to question a loved one who had made "inconsistent statements" about the woman's whereabouts, authorities said Wednesday.
Riverside police officers went to the 6600 block of New Ridge Drive on Sunday morning to conduct a welfare check on the woman, Miriam Travis, 87, because an out-of-state daughter had grown concerned after not having heard from her mother in two months, officials said.
Police were met at the house by Travis' 64-year-old daughter, who lives there, and the investigators "started noticing inconsistent statements with her story as to Mom's whereabouts," Officer Javier Cabrera said.
"There were just a lot of flags," Cabrera said. "Officers were able to go inside the residence, which was disheveled, almost hoard-like conditions. They go inside, go through the garage, and in the freezer they locate the mother deceased inside the freezer."
Travis' daughter was briefly detained but not arrested pending the results of an autopsy.
Longtime neighbor Cedric Valentin recalled having recently seen Travis' daughter outside their house and asking about her mother. The neighborhood is about 60 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
"I says, 'Carol, where's Miriam?' I says, 'You tell her I said hello.' She was 'Oh, she's in the house,'" Valentin told NBC Los Angeles.
Property records listed Carol Etchells, 64, as living in the house with Travis. Etchells could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday at any of her publicly listed phone numbers.
Another longtime New Ridge Drive resident, Randy Hayes, said Travis was a good neighbor. They would regularly tell each other when they would be out of town on vacation so one could keep an eye on the other's empty house.
"It's a tragedy, as you can imagine. I don't think any of us could imagine having our mom in a freezer, right?" Hayes said.
Travis worked 27 years for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department from 1963 until she retired in 1990.
"Our hearts are broken by this news and the entire LASD family mourns her loss," Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement.