Details Emerge on Car Found Buried in $15M Home's Yard

The car was reported stolen in late 1992
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2022 7:21 AM CDT
Updated Oct 23, 2022 8:30 AM CDT

Update: Police have released a few new details in the odd case of a car found buried on the grounds of an Atherton, Calif., mansion. The car is a Mercedes-Benz convertible that was buried without its top on. The car had been reported stolen to Palo Alto police in September 1992, reports the SF Chronicle, with KTVU's sources saying the car bears a personalized license plate that ties it to a one-time owner of the home, the late Johnny Bocktune Lew. Police believe the car was buried around the same time it was reported stolen. Atherton Mayor Rick DeGolia describes Lew as having a "very checkered history" that includes arrests for murder, attempted murder, and insurance fraud (he allegedly wanted to sink a $1.2 million yacht, reports NPR). Our original story from Friday follows:

Landscapers working on a $15 million residential property in California made an usual discovery Thursday: an entire car buried four to five feet underground. Police were called to the scene in the wealthy town of Atherton, 30 miles south of San Francisco, to investigate the bizarre find and to look for possible human remains, per CNN. "Due to the unknown nature of why the vehicle was buried, cadaver dogs were called to the scene" and "made a slight notification of possible human remains," police said in a release.

No human remains have been found, though detectives continue to excavate the vehicle. Police said the car, filled with unused bags of concrete, is thought to have been buried in the 1990s, before the current owner took possession of the property, per the AP. The mansion on the 1.63-acre property was built in 1990, per the San Francisco Chronicle. The property was listed for rent in 2013 and 2014 before selling for $7.3 million that year. It was purchased by the current owners for $15 million in 2020. (More strange stuff stories.)

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