'It appears they've gotten away with murder': San Francisco murder case remains unsolved one year later

ByVic Lee and Ed Walsh KGO logo
Thursday, August 15, 2019
Friends outraged as SF murder case remains unsolved a year later
It was one of San Francisco's grisliest murders: a headless, hand-less torso was found hidden under a staircase inside a fish tank. Two people were arrested, but then released, and one year later friends of the victim want answers.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It was one of San Francisco's grisliest murders.

In August 2018 a headless, hand-less torso was found hidden under a staircase inside a fish tank in the SoMa District home of 65-year-old Brian Egg. Two people were arrested, but then released for the murder of Egg. But one year later no one is behind bars and Egg's friends want answers.

"It was quite a grisly murder number one. I mean it was like a memorable one," said Simon Marc.

He lives on Clara Street, a small alley south of Market - The same alley where Brian Egg lived.

RELATED: Vigil held for missing San Francisco man Brian Egg after body found in fish tank

Scott Free was also a neighbor and good friend.

"It appears they've gotten away with murder because no one is in jail currently," he said on social media when Egg went missing last year. "I just wish the police were being more active with the investigation. Maybe they say they are but it certainly doesn't appear that way to me."

Now, he cleans up the alleyway like Egg did regularly, and waters the plants Egg cultivated with loving care. Neighbors say that Egg always tried to help out people down on their luck and had invited other people in to live with him in the past.

"When he suddenly disappeared, I knew there had to be something amiss there," Free said. He remembers that when Egg disappeared, the message on his phone said he was away on vacation - Suspicous, considering Egg never used his voice mail and the voice was not his.

Neighbors also saw strangers in his home. Free asked police to do a welfare check on Egg. They did, but it was only cursory.

"No response at the door. And saw nothing suspicious," said police.

In mid-August of last year, there was a big break. Scott looked out his window.

"A big white crime scenes cleaners crew arrived," he said.

RELATED: Details into alleged financial crimes revealed after headless body found in San Francisco home of missing man

Another frantic call to police, and this time, responding officers found someone in the house. A strange odor wafted through a locked room.

Police found a body without a head or hands in a large fish tank. They arrested Lance Silva and another transient, Robert McCaffrey, living in the house.

Both were charged with ID theft, financial crimes, and homicide. Through DNA, the mutilated body was identified as that of Brian Egg. An autopsy concluded he was murdered and died from blunt trauma.

One year later, there are still no arrests in the case.

Lance Silva and his friend were released.

The DA withdrew the charges, saying more investigation was needed. The DA's office says police have yet to present a case to them.

On Wednesday, one year after the first arrest, SFPD told ABC7 news that their investigation is still ongoing, and they "are following good leads and are confident we will make an arrest."

The District Attorney's office told ABC7 News that they can't charge anyone until the police investigation is complete.

The Brian Egg case began in late May 2018. That's the last time that Egg was spotted in his South of Market neighborhood. A full timeline on the case is posted below:

  • Late May or early June 2018: Brian Egg last seen in his South of Market neighborhood, San Francisco police say.
  • June or July 2018: Egg's brother, Devon Egg, says he phoned his brother and an answering machine picked up with a request to leave a message. He said his brother never used an answering machine and he didn't recognize the voice on the machine. He called back and someone answered who gave his name as Nate. He said his brother would call him right back after he finished walking his dog. No one called back.
  • June 1, 2018: Court records show that a 2007 BMW was purchased for $5500 by someone who had identified themselves as Brian Egg from a dealership in Newark. A purchase document for the sale would later be found in possession of Lance Silva after he was arrested in connection with Egg's disappearance.
  • June 15, 2018: The BMW purchased on June 1 was towed from 379 5th Street in San Francisco for parking in a no-stopping zone. It was retrieved later that day by two men, one of whom identified themselves as Paul Foran, the second was identified by police from surveillance video as Lance Silva.
  • Late July 2018: Police say they receive the first calls from neighbors reporting Egg's disappearance. Officers respond to the home twice. They knocked on the door. Each time, there was no answer and the officers left.
  • August 2, 2018 Egg's longtime neighbor and friend Scot Free makes a post on the social media site Nextdoor to alert neighbors. Neighbors expressed their concern and said they would also report the suspicious activity at the home to police. Strangers were seen coming and going from home.
  • August 4 or 5th, 2018: Neighbors say the third check by police apparently prompted the people living in the house to frantically clean. They observed soap suds coming out of the home and bleach was being used to clean the front of the home. Someone in the home and also painted part of the front of the home including a door.
  • August 7, 2018: Police say Egg's sister filed a missing person's report. They send officers out to the house for a third time. But again, after no one answers the door, they leave.
  • August 14, 2018: Neighbors call 911 after the private crime scene cleanup company Aftermath showed up to clean the home. Robert McCaffrey, 52, was arrested at the home. Neighbors say he had at least $1,000 cash in hand to pay the company for the job.
  • August 16, 2018: Police arrest Lance Silva, 39, in a nearby residential hotel. Both men are charged with homicide, ID theft, elder abuse and financial crimes. But the San Francisco District attorney's Office eventually drops the charges pending further investigation. McCaffrey is freed. Silva is held in jail in Alameda County by authorities for a parole violation. Court records show he had a prior convictions for grand theft. The parole violation stemmed from identity theft and fraud charges. Police believe he was using Egg's debit card.
  • August 17, 2018: After searching the home for four days, police find a human torso in a large fish tank that was hidden in the home. They seek DNA samples from family members in an effort to identify the remains.
  • August 23, 2018: Neighbors say that a round-the-clock surveillance of the home by police since August 14 ends.
  • August 28, 2018: San Francisco police hold press conference revealing details of the case for the first time. They defend not taking further action during those three checks on the home. They say there wasn't sufficient suspicion break into the home but neighbors strongly dispute that.
  • August 29, 2018: Lance Silva appeared in court in Alameda County to face charges related to a parole violation.
  • April 24, 2019: Lance Silva released from jail after 'sentence served'
  • May 2019: Egg's death officially ruled a homicide by San Francisco Medical Examiner
  • May 2019: Egg's family sells SoMa home after not being able to find a tenant to live in property. Asking price was over $1.5 Million dollars