Crime and Safety

Stolen car buried for decades found in yard of multimillion-dollar Silicon Valley home 

Landscapers working on the yard of a $15 million mansion in California discovered a stolen car filled with bags of concrete that had been buried decades ago, according to a statement by the Artherton police. 

Landscapers found the Mercedes-Benz that was reported stolen in 1992 on Thursday while they were working on the Atherton home, leading police to open an investigation. 

According to Atherton police Cmdr. Daniel Larsen, cadaver dogs alerted to possible human remains within the car but none have been found after it was unearthed. 

The San Mateo Crime Lab was contacted and technicians were sent to assist with the excavation of the vehicle. 

Police believe the car was buried four to five feet deep in the 1990s before the current owners acquired the $15 million home in 2020. Larsen said the current owners were not under suspicion. 

The home was built in the 1990s by Johnny Bocktune Lew. Police have not mentioned a connection between Lew and the buried car. 

Lew’s daughter, Jacq Searle, said she was shocked to learn of the car found in her former backyard. However, she told the San Francisco Chronicle her life at the property was dysfunctional. 

“My father definitely had emotional issues,” she said. “This wouldn’t surprise me, just based on how sketchy my father was.”

In 1965, Lew was found guilty of murder after his 21-year-old lover died from a gunshot wound in his apartment. However, his conviction was reversed in 1968. In 1977, he spent three years in prison after being convicted of attempted murder. Finally, in 1999, he was accused of insurance fraud. 

“The motive and circumstances surrounding this incident are under investigation,” police said in a statement.

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