Authorities continue to search Novato backyard

February 24, 2011 12:18:38 PM PST
Novato police and the FBI returned to the backyard of a home on Thursday morning after unearthing a body. They came to the home as part of a missing person's investigation, in the disappearance of a North Bay man.

Police have yet to positively identify who it is they found buried in the backyard of the Novato home on Wednesday, but they came in search of Dale Smith, who lived at the home with his wife Evelyn. The 74-year-old was reported missing two weeks ago by neighbors who say they haven't seen him for months.

"Too bizarre, I mean this is just weird. Right on your block and I couldn't believe it," neighbor Annie Bauer said.

Bauer lives just up the block from where the body was found, buried beneath a backyard patio. She remembered a conversation she had with a neighbor when the Smiths installed that patio last fall, and it was about the same time they last saw Dale.

"She [the neighbor] said, 'That's weird, because they don't even do barbecues and stuff.' A red flag went up so we have been watching since last September and nothing, he has not been there," she said.

Evelyn gave police permission to search her backyard, but is now referring all calls to attorney Hugh Levine. He did not return our calls, but told the San Francisco Chronicle that it's possible Dale died of natural causes, and neighbors said he was battling cancer. Levine also said the improper disposal of human remains is a misdemeanor, as he is he suggesting Dale died naturally and Evelyn buried him in the backyard.

"[Evelyn is] quiet, it's hard to make conversation with her, but she was always really nice along the way to us anyway," Evelyn's neighbor John Ridenour said.

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