California police have arrested a couple after catching them with a dead body stuffed into the cargo bay of their SUV, forcing their own 13-year-old daughter to remain in the backseat, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
Deputies detained Darwin Keith Alaskari, 59, and Sherrie Lynn Boggess, 50, after finding the dead, decomposing body, who was later identified as 83-year-old Donald Eugene Cunningham. The incident started as a routine traffic stop but officers say the smell of the body was overwhelming and that they had to investigate further.
It remains unclear how Cunningham died or how his body ended up in their car but investigators suspect foul play and went as far as to say the couple was probably on their way to bury the corpse when they were captured.
An autopsy was performed on Cunningham on Wednesday, but officials say it could take up to eight weeks to determine the cause of death from toxicology results.
A preliminary investigation indicates Cunnningham was a longtime acquaintance of the Bakersfield couple, as reported by CalCoastNews.
“We don’t know if this was natural, suicide, if this is foul play, so right now we’re calling this a suspicious death,” San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Spokesperson Tony Cipolla told KKFX.
Police also allegedly found drugs in the car. As such, the couple has been charged with suspicion of possessing a controlled substance and child endangerment.
Alaskari is being held in custody at San Luis Obispo County Jail in lieu of $105,000 bail, while bail for Boggess is set at $150,000. Authorities may up the charges to murder as the investigation continues.
Child Welfare Services has taken custody of their 13-year-old daughter.
[Featured Image: San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office]