Santa Ana Refrigerator Body Not Reported Because of Couple’s Immigration Status, Police Say


The couple who lived in a Santa Ana home where a woman’s body was discovered in a refrigerator didn’t report her death to authorities because they were concerned about their immigration status, police said Tuesday.

A body was discovered inside a refrigerator at a residential property in Santa Ana on Dec. 17, 2015. Coroner’s officials later loaded the refrigerator, with the body inside, into an awaiting truck. (Credit: KTLA)

The body of Ricarda Reyes-Villalobos was found Thursday at a home in the 1000 block of North Jackson Street when the landlord looked inside a refrigerator left behind by a couple who had been renting and living in a detached garage, the Santa Ana Police Department stated in a news release.

The couple had moved out about three months prior to the discovery and left the refrigerator along with additional property behind, the landlord told authorities.

Authorities eventually located the couple living in Garden Grove.

They identified the woman as Reyes-Villalobos, telling authorities she was a relative and was believed to be about 50 years old.

Police responded after a body was found inside a refrigerator in a garage at a Santa Ana home on Dec. 17, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

The couple said they were caregivers for Reyes-Villalobos and she had died in August of 2014, but they did not report her death because of their immigration status, according to the Police Department.

They had planned on returning to the residence for Reyes-Villalobos and their property when they had enough money to do so, according to the news release.

The Orange County coroner found no signs of trauma that would indicate a cause of death on Reyes-Villalobos, the Police Department stated.

An official cause of death was pending a toxicology report.

Detectives planned to submit the case to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for any possible criminal filing following their investigation.