(FOX 11 / CNS) Human remains were found inside an apartment wall in a Lomita housing project, and relatives of a woman who was reported missing from the building six years ago said Thursday they believe it's their loved one.
The remains were discovered at the Harbor Hills Housing Project in the 26800 block of Western Avenue after someone called the Sheriff's Department with a tip, sheriff's Lt. Steve Jauch told City News Service.
"One of our homicide detectives received a call last week claiming there were human remains buried inside one of the apartments,'' Jauch said. "Detectives went to the scene twice last week but had trouble connecting with the residents of the apartment.''
Jauch said detectives went back to the building at the beginning of the week and made arrangements with county housing officials to gain entrance into
the apartment, whose occupants were relocated to accommodate the investigation.
"The Housing Department asked for a letter from our Homicide Bureau before they would let us look behind a wall in the apartment for the remains,'' Jauch said. "So we gave them a letter and then coordinated the operation with the coroner's office to begin the excavation.''
The sheriff's department dispatched cadaver dogs to the scene. The dogs, which are trained to find bodies, alerted to human remains, and the coroner's
office was given the go-ahead to begin the excavation.
Sheriff's homicide and coroner's investigators were back at the scene Thursday.
Family members of Raven Joy Campbell, who lived in a unit at Harbor Hills, went to the scene and said they suspect the remains belong to their relative, who was 32 when she disappeared in 2009. They said Campbell was mentally challenged and had a son.
A cousin, Linda Campbell Humphrey, said the missing woman's sister received an anonymous call from someone that led her to believe there was a
body in the apartment.
"She said that she believed that her sister could be buried behind the wall in a downstairs closet,'' Humphrey told news outlets. "She was very specific,
which made us, you know, really check into it.''
Relatives said the unit where the remains were found is the one where Campbell lived with a high school friend, who moved out in 2010. Jauch told CNS he spoke to the missing woman's sisters at the scene.
"I told them I didn't want to raise their hopes and that it would take some time to identify the body and determine the cause of death,'' Jauch told CNS. "I told them the investigation was just beginning.''
The remains, he said, are now in the custody of the coroner's office. Jauch said detectives were trying to determine who lived in the apartment prior to the latest occupants, and was unsure how long that family had been living there.