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LOS ANGELES (AP) – An attorney said Wednesday that the body of a mystery man was decomposing in his car in the tony Pacific Palisades neighborhood in Southern California for nearly two weeks before he was found by authorities on July 17.
Inside his home, detectives discovered more than 1,200 guns, scopes, 6.5 tons of ammunition, bows and arrows, knives, machetes and $230,000 in cash.
They also found eight of the 14 vehicles registered to the man stashed across Los Angeles, including a Toyota SUV designed to drive underwater.
Who the man was and how he came to accumulate the arsenal and vehicles are questions authorities are still trying to answer.
Veteran defense attorney Harland Braun represents the man’s fiancée Catherine Nebron and identified him as Jeffrey Alan Lash.
That’s also the name coroner’s officials are working with and they’re in touch with a relative to try to officially identify the body, said Craig Harvey, chief of investigations for the coroner’s office.
Lash and Nebron were together for 17 years and she believed him when he told her that he worked as an undercover operative for multiple unnamed government agencies, Braun said.
“The story itself sounds totally crazy but then how do you explain all this?” Braun said. “There’s no evidence he was a drug dealer or he stole these weapons, or had any criminal source of income, no stolen property, all the stuff you’d look for.”
LAPD Deputy Chief of Detectives Kirk Albanese said there’s no indication the man was doing anything illegal with the weapons. Detectives were reviewing everything, but so far the guns appeared to be registered to him. Many were still in boxes or had price tags.
Braun said Nebron and two friends were in a car at a supermarket early July 4, when Lash felt hot and had trouble breathing. For three hours they tried to ice him down.
“He wouldn’t go to a hospital and didn’t want any 911 call,” Braun said. When he died, Nebron parked him in a car down the street from the condo they shared, the lawyer said.
Police say they don’t believe there was any foul play involved in his death, but the official cause has been deferred pending further investigation.
Lash told Nebron the government agencies would take care of his body and the items in the home, so Nebron and her friends took a trip to Oregon, distraught.
When they returned about 10 days later, Nebron was shocked to still see Lash’s body in the car.
She contacted Braun, and together they contacted Los Angeles police, who found the body, guns and more.
The guns are worth more than $5 million, Braun said, and along with the ammunition, took three days to remove from the home, which remains piled 6-feet high with items throughout.
“Hoarding times 10,” Braun said.
Neighbors thought Lash was dying of cancer because he appeared to be degenerating over the past year, but Lash told Nebron that he had been exposed to nerve-damaging chemicals on a mission and his condition was worsening.
Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams .
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.