An 87-year-old woman was found dead in a freezer at her home in Riverside on Sunday, Sept. 19, and although the daughter who was living with her was questioned, no arrest has been made, the Riverside Police Department said.
A relative identified the dead woman Monday as Miriam Travis, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide detective. Deputy Maria Lucero, a sheriff’s spokeswoman, said Travis was a sergeant at the homicide bureau from 1979 until she retired in 1990.
Another relative had called police, asking officers to check on the woman, said Officer Javier Cabrera, a police spokesman. Officers went to the home in the 6600 block of New Ridge Drive in the Mission Grove neighborhood at about 9:35 a.m. They questioned the daughter, whose statements on the whereabouts of Travis were inconsistent, Cabrera said.
Officers searched the house, which Cabrera described as “disheveled,” with hoarding-like conditions. There was a foul odor, and officers eventually discovered Travis in a working freezer in the garage. No information on the body’s condition was available. An autopsy is being conducted.
The daughter, whose name was not revealed, was questioned and released until detectives can determine how Travis died and what role, if any, the daughter had in the handling of the body.
The relative who identified Travis is Kerri Nickell of Oklahoma. She said Travis was her step-grandmother.
Travis and her husband moved to Riverside in 1990 after her retirement. He died two years later, and suddenly Travis changed the locks on the house and cut off contact with extended family, Nickell said.
“It was like this is my grandmother one day, and then we never heard from her again,” said Nickell, who described Travis and the daughter as “different people.”
“They were kind of hermits,” Nickell added. A cousin would sometimes mail pictures of relatives on her side of the family to Travis, but there was never any response.
Nickell met the daughter long ago and was at the house a couple of times.
“She was always quiet and in her room most of the time. I didn’t know her at all,” Nickell said.
Travis, meanwhile, was a “great grandmother,” Nickell said, taking Nickell and her 11 cousins to Disneyland every year at Christmas.