Police wrapped up the on-site investigation into a car that was found buried in an Atherton backyard. The vehicle was removed on Saturday, Oct. 22, and taken to the San Mateo County crime lab for further investigation. While no human remains were found, a cadaver dog still picked up on the scent of human remains, according to a Monday, Oct. 24, morning police press release.
The home was previously owned by the late Johnny Bocktune Lew, who had a long criminal history including the murder of his mistress Karen Gervasi in 1965. The second-degree murder verdict was overturned by the California Supreme Court in 1967 due to an error in admitting hearsay statements.
A tow truck hauled the car, a Mercedes Benz convertible, away from the home on the 300 block of Stockbridge Avenue, and brought it to the San Mateo County Crime Lab in San Mateo for further inspection and processing. A cadaver dog again gave notification of possible human remains, although further excavation at the site did not reveal any such remains.
On Sunday, Oct. 23, investigators used ground penetrating radar technology but did not discover anything unusual or suspicious at the scene and no human remains were found, police said.
Police received a call Thursday, Oct. 20, at around 8:50 a.m. when landscapers discovered the buried car at the home in the West of Alameda neighborhood, according to an Atherton Police Department press release. It was publicly identified Friday as a Mercedes Benz convertible with its top down. Bags of cement were found throughout the car, including in the trunk, police said on Friday.
Police say the car was reported missing to the Palo Alto Police Department in September 1992. The possible owner of the vehicle is believed to be dead, but Atherton police are waiting for DMV records to be retrieved from its archives to get confirmation.
A cadaver dog signaled that there could be human remains in the vicinity of the car on Thursday and Friday, police said.
The home was built in 1990 on a 1.63-acre lot, records show, and was sold in 2014 for $7.4 million and again in 2020 for $15 million. Lew owned the home from 1990 to 2014, records show. The Almanac is not publishing the exact address to protect the owner's privacy.
The town issued a permit for a landscape screening — plantings, shrubbery, bushes or other foliage intended to act as a privacy screen — on the property in September, according to public records.
The car was buried before the current homeowner occupied the home, police said. The current homeowner could be reached for comment.
The motive and circumstances surrounding this incident are still under investigation, police said.