A retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sergeant was found dead in a freezer Sunday after police said her family hadn't been able to reach her for months.
The Riverside Police Department was called Sunday morning to do a wellness check on an 87-year-old woman at her home in the city, which is about 50 miles east of Los Angeles, police officer Javier Cabrera said.
Cabrera said family members contacted police about the woman, who the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department identified as Miriam Travis, a 27-year veteran of the department, after not hearing from her for months.
When officers arrived at her home, they talked with one of her daughters, 64, who had been living in the residence. But something felt off, Cabrera said.
"Our officers noticed a lot of inconsistencies with what she was saying," he said. "Something wasn't adding up."
Police searched the home and found a stand-up freezer in the garage. Inside, authorities found Travis' body. Cabrera said it's unclear how long her body was in the freezer or how she died. An autopsy, which could offer her cause and manner of death, is pending.
The autopsy will determine what type, if any, of charges would be brought, he added.
The daughter was detained and questioned at the Riverside Police Department but was later released. Cabrera said she was not considered a suspect at the moment but is a person of interest in the case.
"You hear about cases like this, but in my 19 years, I haven't personally seen one like it," Cabrera said. "Regardless of the circumstances, it's tragic."
Travis’ husband died in 1992, after which she suddenly changed the locks on the house and cut off contact with her extended family, said a relative, Kerri Nickell of Oklahoma.
“It was like this is my grandmother one day, and then we never heard from her again,” Nickell told the Press-Enterprise. She described Travis and her daughter as “kind of hermits.”
Cedric Valentin, 63, a landscaper who said he knew Travis, said he last saw her alive four months ago, the paper reported.
The Riverside police department did not officially release the identity of the woman but the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office confirmed her death and years of service at the department.
Travis worked at the department from 1963 until her retirement in 1990, handling a variety of roles from working with juveniles, helping in an administrative research unit and ending her career as a homicide unit — a role the Sheriff's office said she held for 11 years.
“Our hearts are broken by this news and the entire LASD family mourns her loss," Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement.
Contributing: The Associated Press