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Rain halts hunt for second body behind Lennox house

February 16, 2011 |  4:15 pm

The hunt for a second body possibly buried in the backyard of a Lennox "drug house" was halted Wednesday, the day after the remains of an male adult were unearthed in the yard, investigators said.

The ongoing search was suspended because of rainy weather, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Thomas.

Detectives first visited the house in the 4800 block of 112th Street at Inglewood Avenue late Monday when a resident, Jenny Salazar, 22, told them at least one body was buried behind the house, deputies said.

Marcos Lomeli, 26, identified as the woman’s ex-boyfriend, is wanted for false imprisonment, assault with a deadly weapon and robbery. Both were occasional renters at the Lennox house, deputies said.

Salazar, who reported the body, was arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment and is being held on $100,000 bail.

A coroner’s team began digging in the backyard Tuesday morning, a spokesman said. The body of an adult male was recovered, Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said. The body was wrapped in cloth and plastic, according to broadcast reports.

Investigators said the body appears to be that of James Stein, 53, the owner of the house. Stein was reported missing in mid-December. His wife, Gabriela, was reported missing in January.

Lomeli disappeared in a beige, 1984 Chevrolet pickup truck, license 3T55454, with a rear bumper sticker reading "War is not the answer," said Guillermina Saldana, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Department.

Salazar and Lomeli visited the home Jan. 12 to ask another resident to borrow a truck, Saldana said.  Lomeli allegedly said he needed to move a couple of bodies.

When the truck owner refused, the couple fired a gun in the house, beat him and tied him up, Saldana said. The man, whose name was not released, escaped and contacted authorities.

On Monday afternoon, deputies were called back to the home by a person saying that Salazar had returned.

Deputies said when they arrived, Salazar was standing near a pickup truck that has been reported stolen in a carjacking Sunday night and that the woman was in possession of property taken in the carjacking.


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-- Nate Jackson