Sonoma Co. deputies investigating suspicious deaths of man, woman inside home
PETALUMA, Calif. - A grisly discovery in Sonoma County Monday afternoon: two decomposed bodies in a rural home.
They are presumed to be the couple who lived in the home for close to 30 years.
Their deaths are considered "suspicious" as detectives try to determine the circumstances of their deaths.
"Oh my gosh, oh that's rough," reacted neighbor Brian Vaughn, noticing the Sonoma Sheriff's vehicles blocking the driveway in the 4700 block of Roblar Road in west Petaluma.
Crime tape was stretched across the driveway, in an area of rolling hills and ranch homes.
"It's hard to keep track of everyone out here, we're so spread out," said Vaughn, "wow, I had no idea."
The owners of the home are a man and woman, ages 60 and 55.
The woman's sister called authorities because she noticed mail piling up and grass un-mowed at the property.
"Our deputy went in the back door, and found them, both in the same room, within a few feet of each other," said Sonoma County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Crum.
The caller said she hadn't had contact with her sister for a month.
"There's evidence of decomposition, and it appears they've been down in the house for some time," said Crum.
Neighbors nearest the couple say the two kept to themselves, but in years past, might strike up conversation when out walking.
"Oh my goodness she was really really friendly," sad neighbor Regan Hemphill, "very nice and warm and relaxed. "
At first glance, investigators thought they were dealing with a murder-suicide, but some aspects didn't add up, so they backed off, not wanting to rush to judgment.
"Detectives have looked at it, and there are a lot of unanswered questions," said Sgt. Crum, "so with search warrants, we'll do a real slow, methodical search and figure out what happened here."
Whatever happened, the couple's pets were left unattended, and locked in the house with them.
One dog was found dead, another was alive.
And it is an address that deputies have been to at least once before:
"We have had one call in the past year, a domestic disturbance," explained Sgt. Crum, "and nobody got arrested, sounds like it was just an argument."
By 10 p.m. Monday, the coroner had removed the bodies.
The home was under guard overnight, with detectives and forensic experts heading back to the scene on Tuesday.