A construction crew renovating a historic former convention center in California made the grim discovery of a mummified human body behind the walls this week, authorities said.
Workers were tearing down a wall inside the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland on Wednesday afternoon when authorities received a call about “what appeared to be a body, a human form, within the wall,” a report said. Alameda County Sheriff Lt. Ray Kelly told HuffPost. .
The body, upon further inspection, was determined to be “somewhat preserved” after spending “several years, possibly longer” locked in the walls, Kelly said.
Although his age was not immediately known, the body is believed to be that of an adult male, Kim Armstead, a public information officer with the Oakland Police Department, told HuffPost.
“We hope we can rehydrate the fingers using our medical technology and hopefully get fingerprints and any kind of DNA,” Kelly said of the current efforts to identify the remains.
We don’t know how the body got there.
“I think we can speculate on anything, they were put in there or they fell or went in behind the wall, they were looking for shelter. It’s hard to say,” he said, adding that there were no obvious signs of foul play. “It’s not common for something like this to happen, but it has happened before.”
The building, which is a locally registered historic landmark, was closed in 2005 after serving more than 90 years as a concert hall, theatre, sports arena and briefly a hospital during the 1918 flu pandemic. Its closure followed the city’s determined that its operating costs were unsustainable, according to the city’s website.
In 2015, the Oakland City Council greenlighted a private company’s proposal to turn the building into a performing arts venue and commercial space. Construction on the building was scheduled to begin in 2020, CBS San Francisco reported.
Kelly said this week’s discovery was being treated as a missing person case with the help of local forensic anthropologists.
“He’s a missing person, obviously, someone we didn’t know, so that’s an angle we have to explore. Is that a person we were looking for, a family we were looking for?” He asked.