For years, renters complained about a yucky odor in the former apartment of a woman who disappeared in 2009. Now, authorities have found the source of the smell and the focus of what is likely to be a murder investigation: a body hidden in a wall of the apartment in Lomita, outside of Long Beach, Calif. Police arrived at the apartment with search dogs on Wednesday after receiving a tip, ABC7 reports. A "positive alert" from the dogs soon led authorities to a wall with human remains inside, reports NBC Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times reports the tip came from relatives of missing woman Raven Joy Campbell, 31, who used to live at the apartment. The family says Campbell's sister received a troubling phone call two weeks ago from a person who implied Campbell was buried behind the wall of a downstairs closet.
A neighbor says the body was found in a hollow area behind the stairs that "connects to the closet." He says all other walls in the unit are concrete. Police say the victim’s identity and cause of death aren't yet known. "It's not fair for me to get their hopes up or dash their hopes," an officer says of Campbell’s family. "I'll have to wait for the process." But Campbell’s sister says "the body has to be hers, there's no question." Relatives note Campbell, who had a mental disability, was living with a high school friend when she disappeared; that friend said Campbell never returned home from a shopping trip, but her purse was found at home, KTLA reports. Police add the family now living in the apartment was stunned by the discovery and is cooperating; they’ve been relocated during the investigation. (A man has been charged in killing a missing Arizona couple.)