A body found inside the wall of a Southern California apartment "has to be" that of a woman reported missing six years ago, her family members said Thursday.
Sheriff's department investigators are conducting a death investigation at the housing complex in southwestern Los Angeles County after the discovery. The apartment's residents were relocated and yellow police tape blocked off a large section of the Harbor Hills Housing Project in Lomita as authorities conducted excavation work to remove the body from the wall.
Coroner's office officials responded to the 26000 block of Western Avenue in the small community northwest of Long Beach at about 10 p.m. Wednesday. A "positive alert" from search dogs led authorities to a location inside a residence, and sheriff's officials confirmed Thursday morning that a body was found inside a wall.
The identity of the deceased individual and a cause of death were not immediately determined, but family members of a woman missing for six years arrived at the scene early Thursday after hearing about the discovery on a newscast. They told NBC4 that they believe the remains are those of then-31-year-old Raven Joy Campbell, who used to live at the apartment.
"The body has to be hers, there's no question," said Malaikah Manasseh, Campbell's sister.
The sheriff's department issued a missing person bulletin for Campbell in 2009. She was last seen leaving the Western Avenue residence around midday on June 4, 2009, according to the bulletin.
"I don't know how long the victim has been here, I just don't know," Lt. Steve Jauch said, with the LASD.
Family members said residents had complained about an odor for years.
The current residents cooperated with the investigation, according to authorities.
Sheriff's department investigators and a K-9 unit were at the scene Thursday, continuing an investigation that is expected to last throughout the day.