Cocaine Investigation Turns Up Body Packed In Dry Ice
NEWPORT BEACH – An investigation into cocaine sales led Newport Beach police to a four-diamond hotel where they found a woman's body packed in dry ice, authorities said Friday.
An autopsy of the woman, who has not been not identified, shows that "the victim's death does not appear to be a homicide," police said in a statement. Toxicology results are pending and a cause of death hasn't been determined.
The body was discovered shortly after narcotics investigators at 10:15 Thursday night arrested Stephen David Royds, 46, on the grounds of the Fairmont Newport Beach on suspicion of cocaine sales and possession.
A subsequent search of Royds' room turned up the body inside a large, plastic container full of dry ice. Police said they still don't know if Royds, a Newport Beach resident who is being held on $30,000 bail, was involved in the death.
Police Sgt. Evan Sailor described the woman as white and in her 20s or 30s. She was fully clothed and "because of the way she was kept, she was very well-preserved," Sailor said.
Royds in 2002 pleaded guilty in Orange County Superior Court to five felony charges, four of which were related to either possession or sale of a controlled substance, and one of which involved possession of a forged driver's license, online court records show.
The woman's body was discovered in Room 966, which stood out conspicuously when viewed from a stairwell. Two magnum-sized bottles of sake on the balcony looked as if they had been jury-rigged as makeshift lamps, with screw-in light-bulb fixtures attached to their spouts. Visible inside was a box labeled "Spy Vision: Night-Vision Goggles," a toy that sells for about $15 online.
Two partially disassembled porch swings not seen on any neighboring balcony also sat outside, and what looked to be a rolled-up screen made of wooden sticks sat in the balcony corner.
Sailor said he had "no idea" about any of items seen at the room.
Fairmont spokeswoman Michelle Heston said the hotel had "no information" on the incident. "Our team is fully supporting the Newport Beach Police Department and assisting them in their investigation," Heston said.
Authorities would not say how long Royds had been staying at the Fairmont, which sits on MacArthur Boulevard a block away from John Wayne Airport and holds a AAA four-diamond rating.
Asked how much cocaine Royds possessed, Sailor said that "it wasn't a lot but it was enough to arrest for the (narcotic) sales" charge.
Police are asking anyone with information to call 800-550-NBPD.