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Owner of car buried at Bay Area mansion had reported it stolen, collected $87,000 insurance payout

A mansion is under investigation by police after a car was found buried on the property the day before, in Atherton, Calif., Friday, Oct.  21, 2022. Three decades after a car was reported stolen in Northern California, police are digging the missing convertible out of the yard of a $15 million mansion built by a man with a history of arrests for murder, attempted murder and insurance fraud.  (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Authorities are continuing to investigate for the presence of human remains days after a car was found buried in the yard of a mansion in Atherton, Calif. (Nhat V. Meyer / Bay Area News Group)

Days after a car was found buried in the yard of a San Francisco Bay Area mansion, authorities are continuing to search for human remains as questions mount about the property’s former owner and his violent past.

On Monday, San Mateo County Dist. Atty. Steve Wagstaffe told the Mercury News that Johnny Bocktune Lew, who died in 2015, reported the Mercedes-Benz stolen in 1992 and collected $87,000 in insurance on the vehicle.

The district attorney described the case as having the elements of a true crime novel, but with missing parts.

“This book has 15 chapters in it and we’ve only got two chapters,” Wagstaffe told the Mercury News. “I don’t know if we’re ever going to get the other chapters, but I sure hope we do because it is an interesting story.”

The Times could not reach Wagstaffe for comment on Monday.

Landscapers found the car on Thursday, buried in the backyard of a $15-million mansion in Atherton, a small town of about 7,000 people with a median income above $250,000, according to US census data.

The car was discovered 4 to 5 feet deep in the ground behind the home in the 300 block of Stockbridge Avenue, according to the Atherton Police Department. Unused bags of concrete were found inside.

Cadaver dogs were brought in to scour the scene and “made a slight notification of possible human remains,” police said. But so far no remains have been found.

Adding to the questions around the car are sordid details from Lew’s past.

Neighbors told the Mercury News that Lew, who sold the property in

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