The New Stuff

Police: Man Lived with Woman’s Rotting Corpse for a Week

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. –What’s that smell?” –A California man was arrested Tuesday after police discovered he had been sharing his apartment with a woman’s decomposing body for at least a week.

Santa Cruz police arrested John Clauer, 64, after they discovered the decomposing body of a 30-year-old woman inside his apartment Tuesday evening.

Police say several complaints of a foul odor led them to Clauer’s studio apartment where they made the gruesome discovery.

The cause of death is under investigation and so is the fact that Clauer didn't report the death to police. Clauer, who is on parole for selling marijuana to a juvenile under 14, was booked into Santa Cruz County Jail.

"This is the weirdest case I've seen," said Deputy Chief Steve Clark. "And I've been here 25 years."

Clark said they are investigating the death as a homicide and would release the name of the victim once her family has been notified.

Clark said the unknown female had a criminal record, as did Clauer. However, he said, if the medical examiner comes back with a report that indicates a natural death, they will approach it with other charges, such as failure to report the death to police.

Clauer has a history of convictions for drug possession, burglary and drug sales, Clark said. Clauer talked to police while waiting for his attorney, and while officers couldn't ask him questions, they got what they said were conflicting accounts of the death.

"He is either the suspect in a homicide or his behavior in not reporting the death is suspicious," said Clark. "The smell was so bad it prompted a call from neighbors."

At the time of this report is not known if Clauer had been released from jail or if he had an attorney.

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