Body found during suicide investigation

December 19, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The Alameda County coroner is working to identify human remains found hidden in a Berkeley apartment building. Police discovered the badly decomposed body after following up on a suicide in that same building on Ashby Avenue.

A hazmat crew worked to clean up what was left behind after the human remains were taken to the coroner early Thursday morning.

Police first came to the Berkeley apartment building Monday evening when someone called to report a loud argument. Officers knocked on the door of the 60-year-old landlord, Hassan Bin Ali.

"Mr. Ali then put a handgun to his head and took his own life, right there in front of our officers," said Oakland police officer Andrew Frankel.

In the following investigation, police found evidence that suggested they should look for another body in the building. They came back Wednesday night with a search warrant. After about an hour of looking, they found badly decomposed human remains hidden in the first floor laundry room. It was reportedly in a box behind a wall. Police described it as "entombed."

"Entombed is a pretty accurate word to describe how we found the remains," said Officer Frankel.

Police will not confirm the remains were in the box, but it was brought out of the laundry room and taken away by the hazmat company and police.

Brandon Lane says he just moved out of the building a couple months ago and can't believe Ali took his own life.

"He was the greatest landlord, always a nice guy, never really made a fuss about anything. I can't believe that. That's so strange that he would do something like that," said Lane who explained that everyone in the building did their laundry downstairs. "That's kind of creepy now to think about it. To think there was a body sitting there the whole time possibly, that's not too cool because we all go to that laundry room. And to think that a few feet away there might have been something sitting there, that's kind of weird."

Police say so far, the coroner knows only that the remains are male. Until they know more, this is not a murder investigation, just a suspicious death.


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