No remains in car buried behind California mansion

ATHERTON, Calif. (AP) — Crews fully excavated a car that police said was buried in the backyard of a Northern California mansion 30 years ago and found no human remains, authorities said Monday.

The convertible Mercedes Benz filled with bags of unused concrete was discovered last week by landscapers in the affluent town of Atherton in Silicon Valley. Cadaver dogs brought to the scene made “slight” notifications of possible human remains on three separate occasions, police said in a statement.

The car was removed from the home by a tow truck and transported Saturday to the San Mateo County Crime Lab for further inspection and processing. On Sunday, ground penetrating radar was used to examine the scene, the department said.

“This examination did not reveal anything unusual or suspicious at the scene and no human remains were located,” it said.

“This concluded our on-scene investigation,” the department added.

Police have not said who owned the car, which was reported stolen in nearby Palo Alto in September 1992, or who might have buried it in the backyard of the sprawling mansion. Police said Monday they had no further comment.

Investigators believe the car was buried 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) deep in the home’s backyard sometime in the 1990s — before the current owners bought the home.

Atherton police said the possible owner of the car is believed to be deceased but officials were waiting for DMV records to confirm that.

Authorities wouldn’t say if investigators believe the vehicle was registered to Johnny Lew, who built the home and lived there with his family in the 1990s. Lew had a history of arrests for murder, attempted murder and insurance fraud,

KRON-TV reported Monday that the car has a personalized license plate that includes “Lew.”

Lew died

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Owner of car buried at Atherton estate reported it stolen, collected $87,000 in insurance: DA

Atherton police continue to investigate the discovery of a vehicle found buried in the yard of a home in the 300 block of Stockbridge Avenue in Atherton, Calif., Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.

Atherton police continue to investigate the discovery of a vehicle found buried in the yard of a home in the 300 block of Stockbridge Avenue in Atherton, Calif., Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.

A man linked to one of San Joaquin County’s largest-ever insurance fraud schemes reported a Mercedes-Benz found buried at his former home stolen in 1992 and collected tens of thousands of dollars in insurance on the vehicle, according to San Mateo County authorities.

Johnny Bocktune Lew, who built the $15 million Atherton mansion where the car was unearthed last week, reported the Mercedes-Benz stolen in 1992 and collected $87,000 in insurance on the vehicle, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the San Jose Mercury News.

“This book has 15 chapters in it and we’ve only got two chapters,” Wagstaffe told the newspaper. “I don’t know if we’re ever going to get the other chapters, but I sure hope we do because it is an interesting story.”

Lew died in 2015.

A mansion is under investigation by police after a car was found buried on the property the day before, in Atherton, Calif., Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. Three decades after a car was reported stolen in Northern California, police are digging the missing convertible out of the yard of a $15 million mansion built by a man with a history of arrests for murder, attempted murder and <a href=insurance fraud.” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/mj4RqcIVRrenaOtmsXJK6A–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTUyOA–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the-stockton-record/26f85bb47127a8544d84d64bacd8366e”/

A mansion is under investigation by police after a car was found buried on the property the day before, in Atherton, Calif., Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. Three decades after a car was reported stolen in Northern California, police are digging the missing convertible out of the yard of a $15 million mansion built by a man with a history of arrests for murder, attempted murder and insurance fraud.

The convertible Mercedes-Benz filled with bags of unused concrete was discovered last week by landscapers in the affluent town of Atherton in Silicon Valley.

Cadaver dogs brought to the scene made “slight” notifications of possible human remains on three separate occasions, police said in a statement.

The car was removed from the home by a tow truck and transported Saturday to the San Mateo

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