SF police find severed head in refrigerator while investigating missing person case, sources

Crime scene investigators on the scene of an apparent homicide at an apartment in San Francisco's Outer Sunset neighborhood.

San Francisco police found a severed human head in a refrigerator after serving a search warrant Sunday at home in the city’s Outer Sunset, multiple sources familiar with the investigation told KTVU.

The homicide investigation began as a missing person case linked to the fatal police shooting of a rampaging car jacking suspect two weeks ago in Daly City, the sources said.

Investigators were at a home on the 1600 block of the Great Highway on Sunday afternoon and “a body was located in an apartment,” said Sgt. Michael Andraychak, a San Francisco police spokesman.

The victim was not identified.

But friends of Catono Perez, the man who lived at the home, said they are worried. They haven't seen him since April 10. Perez's family hired a private investigator and have been circulating flyers asking for help finding him. 

David Charbonneau used to babysit Perez when he was a child and stayed close with him over the years. He said the last few days have felt like "a really big roller coaster."

After learning that a body was found in the apartment, Charbonneua is losing hope his friend will be found safe. 

"Catono was just a sweet, loving, honest, open, good-hearted person," he said. "We all loved him very much and this is a tragedy."

Sources said investigators found Perez's identification at the scene where police killed 35-year-old Antioch resident Justin Silvernale on April 12. 

Charbonneau said Perez knew Silvernale but he didn't know what happened before his friend disappeared. 

“I’m not sure exactly what Justin was doing in his life but I heard that Catono was trying to help him and I can see that," he said. 

The run in with Silvernale began at 5:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday, when police said he tried to carjack two people at the Chevron gas station at 110 Hickey Blvd. The suspect then allegedly stabbed an off-duty San Francisco police sergeant who tried to intervene.

The sergeant shot Silvernale, who then got into a scuffle with arriving South San Francisco police who tried to subdue him with Tasers, officials said.

But Silvernale got into one of the officer's patrol vehicles, leading to a high speed chase that ended when the fleeing driver slammed through the gates of a parking garage at a Kaiser Permanente medical facility in Daly City, police said.

Silvernale then rammed a pursuing police cruiser, got out and confronted officers with a knife, officials said. Police opened fire, killing Silvernale.

The carjacking victim and off-duty officer have since recovered.

Evan Sernoffsky is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email Evan at evan.sernoffsky@foxtv.com and follow him on Twitter @EvanSernoffsky