Theories about Oakland's 'mummified' body arise, death unexplained

A mummified body was found inside the wall of the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland on Wednesday by construction crews who are working to revitalize the facility.

Oakland Police Lt. Frederick Shavies said based on the decomposition, the body had likely been inside the walls for three to five years. The convention center has been closed for nearly two decades, but is currently under renovation. A construction crew found the body behind drywall in a narrow space that is 15 inches wide and 12 feet deep, according to Shavies.

Police said their initial theory is that the man was in the ceiling of the auditorium, fell into the narrow space, and died. Based on scratch marks behind the drywall, authorities believe the body made its way down the 12-foot cavity over time.

"It's possibly the person could suffer from positional asphyxiation and because of the narrow confines, it would be very hard for self-rescue," Lt. Shavies said.

Alameda County Sheriff’s Lt. Ray Kelly said the body appeared to be mummified. The work now beings to identify the body.

"We're hoping that maybe we can rehydrate some of the skin," Kelly said. "We can run those fingerprints against our database and possibly identify the person."

Authorities may also use DNA and dental records to identify the person. It is unclear if the person was reported missing in the past, but Kelly said investigators hope to get a match on the missing persons' database.

"The only positive that will come out of this story is that this will bring closure to a family that's probably wondering where this person has been for many years," Kelly said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Oakland Police Homicide Division at 510-238-3821 or the TIP LINE at 510-238-7950.