Authorities find body buried in Novato backyard

February 23, 2011 11:43:07 PM PST
A Novato man has not been seen for months and now law enforcement is excavating a backyard where a body has been found. The home where the excavation is taking place is at 4 Rebecca Way in Novato.

Police have had their suspicions for the past two weeks and neighbors say they haven't seen the homeowner, 74-year-old Dale Smith, for several months. The neighbors called police and after the police opened a missing person's case, the man's wife, Evelyn Smith, allowed cadaver dogs to search the property. The results were inconclusive, so two days ago investigators began digging up the backyard.

Wednesday night, police found a body buried under a recently-constructed brick patio about 4-feet wide by 8-feet long. The body has not been identified, but the suspicion is that it is Dale. He was a retired carpenter who lived in the home for about 30 years.

A next door neighbor said Dale married Evelyn about 15 years ago and she is a postal worker. Police say she is not under arrest, but she has hired a lawyer and she is not speaking to them.

The next door neighbor, Phil Olbrantz, told ABC7 she was, "quirky. She would walk the dog quite a bit each day and then went from walking the dog four or five times a day to not at all." He also said Dale was suffering from esophageal cancer.

The neighbors say they last saw Dale around September and it wasn't until around January that they began to call police and question his whereabouts.

Police expect to try again to talk to Evelyn on Thursday. The FBI crime lab plans to continue excavating the body Wednesday night and return on Thursday.

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