87-Year-Old Woman Unheard From in Weeks Found Dead in Freezer; Daughter Questioned

Authorities in Southern California said they discovered the body of an 87-year-old woman inside a freezer while performing a welfare check at the woman's home on Sunday.

The search for the woman began following a call from some of her family members who were living out of state, according to Riverside Police Department Officer Javier Cabrera. The woman's family members told authorities they had not heard from the woman in several weeks and asked police to perform a welfare check at her Riverside home along the 6600 block of New Ridge Drive.

Riverside police officers went to the woman's house at about 9:35 a.m. local time on Sunday morning, Cabrera told Newsweek on Monday. Once officers arrived, they encountered the 87-year-old woman's daughter, who told them her mother was not home.

police tape woman's body found in freezer
The body of an 87-year-old woman was found inside a freezer in the woman's garage on Sunday, authorities told Newsweek. Above, police tape hangs across the street in an unrelated incident in Park City, Kansas, on February 26, 2005. Larry W. Smith/Getty Images

Neighbors told authorities it was their understanding that the daughter lived in the home as a caretaker for her mother, according to Los Angeles news station KTLA.

Cabrera said that officers noticed while speaking with the daughter that there were inconsistencies in her statement. The daughter was detained and officers began searching the house for signs of the older woman.

The woman's body was later discovered inside a stand-up freezer, which Cabrera said resembled a refrigerator, that was located in the home's garage. The woman's manner of death was not immediately known.

The daughter was taken to the police station and questioned, but she was not charged, Cabrera confirmed. The daughter was released, and as of Monday afternoon was considered a person of interest in the case—but not a suspect.

Meanwhile, the local coroner took custody of the 87-year-old woman's body and is expected to perform an autopsy in the coming days. The woman's manner of death was unknown Monday, but Cabrera said police expected to know more once they received the results of the autopsy.

Local investigators were looking into whether it was possible that the woman could have died of natural causes before her body wound up inside the freezer, according to KTLA.

The deceased woman has not yet been publicly identified, nor has her daughter.

"I've been doing this for 19 years, but I've never seen anything like this," Cabrera told The Los Angeles Times.

He declined to comment further to Newsweek about the incident, citing the developing nature of the case and the pending autopsy results that authorities hoped would reveal more about the woman's manner of death.