87-year-old California woman, a retired Los Angeles Sheriff’s sergeant, found dead in freezer, authorities say

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A retired sergeant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was found dead in a freezer on Sunday after police said his family had not been able to reach him for months.

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Police Officer Javier Cabrera said the Riverside Police Department was called Sunday morning to check the health of an 87-year-old woman at her home in the city, which is about 50 miles east of Los Angeles.

Cabrera said family members contacted police about the woman, whom the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department identified as Miriam Travis, a 27-year-old veteran of the department, after not listening for months.

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When officers reached his house, they spoke to his 64-year-old daughter, who was staying at the residence. But something felt off, Cabrera said.

“Our officers saw that there were a lot of inconsistencies in what she was saying,” he said. “Nothing was connecting.”

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When the police searched the house, a stand-up freezer was found in the garage. Inside, officers found Travis’s body. Cabrera said it was not clear how long his body had been in the freezer or how he died. An autopsy, which may reveal his cause and manner of death, is pending.

He said the autopsy would determine what kind, if any, allegations would be made.

The daughter was taken into custody and questioned at the Riverside Police Department but was later released. Cabrera said she is not currently considered a suspect, but she is a person of interest in the case.

“You hear about cases like this, but in my 19 years, I haven’t personally seen one,” Cabrera said. “Despite the circumstances, it’s sad.”

Travis’s husband died in 1992, after which she suddenly changed the locks of the house and cut off contact with her extended family, said Kerry Nickell, a relative in Oklahoma.

“It was like one day I have a grandmother, and then we never heard from her again,” Nickell told press-enterprise. She described Travis and his daughter as “a kind of hermit.”

According to the newspaper report, 63-year-old Cedric Valentin, a landscaper who said he knew Travis, said he last saw him alive four months ago.

The Riverside Police Department did not officially release the woman’s identity, but the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office confirmed her death and years of service in the department.

Travis served in the department from 1963 until his retirement in 1990, holding a variety of roles from working with teenagers, helping in an administrative research unit, and ending his career as a homicide unit – a role The sheriff’s office said he served for 11 years.

“Our hearts are broken by this news and the entire LASD family mourns his passing,” Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement.

Contribution: The Associated Press

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