The voice on the answering machine said Brian Egg was out of town.
Normally that might be reassuring to friends and neighbors looking for a missing man. But people who knew Egg said he had never used an answering machine before — and the voice on the message was not his voice, KGO-TV reported.
Concerned neighbors and family called police, who performed wellness checks on the San Francisco home but left when nobody answered the door and nothing suspicious was found, ABC News reported.
After neighbors saw a suspicious ‘crime scene cleaning’ vehicle parked outside the home and strangers poking around, they called police again, who came to the home and detained two people, NBC Bay Area reported. Inside the home, they eventually followed the smell of decay to a headless, handless body stuffed inside a fish tank, according to the station.
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Now investigators are working to identify the body and have identified two men as people of interest in the case, the Associated Press reported.
Police had made wellness checks on the home in late July after receiving calls from family and neighbors, but hadn’t found any reason to suspect anything nefarious, Commander Greg McEachern said at a news conference, according to the CBS San Francisco. “We don’t just go breaking down doors because someone reports someone missing,” he said.
Egg’s brother Devon said police told him they’d learned Egg was away working on an art project, according to the Bay Area Reporter.
Police responded to the home once more after a missing person’s report was filed on August 7, but again found nothing suspicious, CBS San Francisco reported. By now, neighbors and family hadn’t seen him since late May or early June, according to SF Weekly.
A week later, neighbors noticed a suspicious “crime scene cleaning” truck parked outside the home. This time, police came and took two people into custody before obtaining a warrant and searching the house, ABC News reported.
A cadaver dog soon led police to a badly decayed body stuffed inside a large fish tank without a head or hands, according to the station. Police have yet to confirm the body is the missing man.
“It’s horrifying,” Egg’s friend Scott Free said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “A dead body was in the house this entire time.”
A friend of Egg’s said he often let “drifters” stay with him and two men were staying there while he was missing, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Free and another man said after police had begun checking on the house, the people at the home had begun “frantically” cleaning, the paper reported. An acquaintance of Egg’s confronted one of the men but was told Egg was “on a trip to Europe,” according to the paper.
Police initially arrested 52-year-old Robert McCaffrey and 39-year-old Lane Silva, who were charged with ID theft, financial crimes and homicide, according to KGO-TV.
McCaffrey was released because police did not have enough information to move forward with charges, while Silva is still in custody on an alleged probation violation, according to the station.