Police: Decomposing body in CA apt had trauma

AP News
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Posted: Apr 28, 2011 5:24 PM
Police: Decomposing body in CA apt had trauma

A 30-year-old woman whose boyfriend had been living for days with her badly decomposed remains had died of significant physical trauma, authorities said Thursday.

An autopsy showed Heather Stearns suffered multiple injuries, "and many of them had the potential to be life-threatening," said Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark. He declined to elaborate, citing the investigation.

Police have classified her death as a homicide.

Authorities said she likely died more than a week before her corpse was found Tuesday in John Clauer's apartment in Santa Cruz. Police were led to the home after neighbors complained about an unusual odor.

Clark said Stearns and Clauer had a romantic relationship. Neighbors told police they often heard Clauer and Stearns arguing, and that the two were often drunk.

Clark said neighbors indicated the two fought around the first week of April, and Stearns "hadn't been seen since that."

Clauer has not been charged in Stearns' death. He was being held on a no-bail parole hold based on a prior drug conviction, and it was not known if Clauer had retained an attorney.

Officers found the body Tuesday evening after neighbors complained of an unusual smell.

Clauer and Steanrs both had significant history with Santa Cruz police, Clark said. He was arrested previously on drug and alcohol related offenses, though it wasn't clear how much time Clauer had served behind bars.

Stearns had alcohol-and-drug-related offenses dating back to 2002, Clark said.