Fresno burglar found dead inside wall, police say

FRESNO, Calif. -- A bizarre crime scene has Fresno Police puzzled. Officers are trying to figure out how a man got stuck inside the walls of a vacant building. It's considered a "death investigation" after the discovery of a body inside the walls.

It happened at a vacant business park off of North Golden State and Ashlan in Northwest Fresno. Lately, the building has been a magnet for thieves. Police now believe that crime may have cost a man his life.

Sgt. Carl McKnight said the case might be a first in his more than 20 years as a cop. It started out normal enough, the property owner called police after finding a shattered back window. "He looked inside he noticed and found pieces of wire insulation all over the ground."

Police said he thought someone might still be inside, so they brought their best tool to sniff out crime. A police dog immediately alerted officers to a specific wall with a hole in it.

"He shined his flashlight in there and found the subject stuck in between the wall-that was deceased," said McKnight.

Officers said thieves often jump between office spaces, spending a few days stripping as much wire as they can. In this case, the man doing the stripping dropped down in-between two office buildings.

"One side was sheetrock. The other was an office at one time they had a cement barrier there like a cement board and it was stamped burglar proof security wall," said McKnight.

The suspected thief got in but couldn't get back out. Fresno firefighters had to cut a hole in the wall to get him out. No one knows just how long he'd been there. Police say it's a reminder of just how dangerous burglaries can be.

"You can get electrocuted and if you're up in the attic you can fall down and get stuck and die that should be the moral of the story on that," said McKnight.

The coroner is working to notify the man's family. Police said he was on probation, had a history of burglaries, and was a gang member.

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