Daniel Zuniga was using a tractor to landscape around his Santa Ana home when he discovered human bones. "I was just freaked out, mainly," he said. That discovery lead to the arrest on Monday of Zuniga’s neighbor, who the family said always struck them as odd. Vikki Vargas reports from Santa Ana for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Jan. 28, 2013.
The former owner of a house in Santa Ana where human remains were discovered by the current residents was booked into jail on a murder charge, police said on Monday.
Larry T. Dominguez was held on suspicion of murder at the Santa Ana jail, said Anthony Bertagna, a department spokesman.
The news of the arrest came as an anthropologist sought to identify a human skull and bones that were found on Sunday buried in two feet of dirt in the backyard.
Residents Venessa Mendez, whose parents own the home, and Daniel Zuniga made the discovery. She said she had an odd feeling from the moment she moved into the house in July when Dominguez told her he had buried his dog in the backyard.
"We were always afraid to go to the kitchen, something about the window and looking outside," she said. "So when we discovered it, we weren’t shocked. But now knowing, we have to sleep there. It’s horrible."
Zuniga was using a tractor to do some landscaping and he knew what he'd uncovered was not an animal.
"As we dug, it came up," he said. "I was freaked out..."
Police began questioning Dominguez on Sunday in connection with the discovery in the 2500 block of North Hesperian Street, police said.
The home was garndered headlines in 2006 when it burned in an electrical fire and Dominguez suffered burns from the blaze.
He lived there for more than 20 years, police said. At the time of the fire, Dominguez's father lived with him in the three bedroom house. A male friend lived in the garage, said a neighbor who only identified himself as Roy.
Longtime neighbor Evy Disner said her husband, Renan, rescued Dominguez from the flames in what she described as "pack rat" conditions.
She said Dominguez inherited the home from his father, who she said lived there for a time.
"We don't know if or when his father passed away," Disner said.
Disner said that after the fire Dominguez lost the house due to a lapse in insurance payments.
He sold the house to his next-door neighors, Disner said.