The body went unnoticed for two weeks in the summer heat, decomposing inside a sport utility vehicle parked in the affluent neighborhood of Pacific Palisades.
Once Los Angeles police were called, they traced the dead man inside the vehicle to a town house down the street. There, investigators found roughly two tons of ammunition and more than 1,200 high-end pistols, shotguns and rifles.
The cache of firearms and ammunition was so large that it took police days to remove several truckloads from the canyon home.
On Tuesday, police were trying to piece together how the dead man ended up inside the abandoned vehicle and determine why he had so many weapons. The coroner’s office had yet to formally identify him as of Tuesday, though law enforcement sources said detectives have a good idea of his name.
Several neighbors said the man was known only as “Bob” in the local area and described him as a gun fanatic who claimed to have worked covertly for either the FBI or the CIA. His fiancée had lived in the town home on Palisades Drive for years, they said.
“He’ll say crazy things to people like he does night missions swimming to Catalina,” said one neighbor, who declined to give her name, saying she was afraid. “He would come … and tell us he would show us self-defense moves.”
An attorney representing the man’s fiancée said that he was the one who contacted police last week about the man’s death and the weapons at the home.
But that’s where the mystery began.
Harland Braun, a veteran criminal defense attorney who has represented celebrities and other high-profile clients, said the story the fiancée told him about what occurred “sounds so bizarre.” The dead man, he said, had told his fiancée that he was an undercover operative for the government and was being watched by the unnamed agency he worked for.
“The problem is that the truth may be unbelievable,” Braun said. “She’ll talk to the LAPD, but will anybody believe it?”