Mummified body found in wall of Oakland convention center identified as missing man

The mummified body found in the wall of the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland, California, was identified as a 42-year-old man who vanished nearly two years ago, the coroner's office said Tuesday.

The body was found in March by a construction crew doing remodeling work at the historic downtown building. A worker noticed what appeared to be a human body in a wall that was being deconstructed, according to Lt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

Kelly said the conditions in the walls helped preserve the body, identified by the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau as Joseph Edward Mejica. A cause of death is pending.

Authorities previously said they believed the death was accidental and that the person died toward the top of the wall.

"Over time his body slowly decayed and slipped toward the bottom of the cavity space," Lt. Frederick Shavies said in a March news conference. "No obvious trauma was observed to the victim's skeletal remains. No obvious or unnatural trauma was found indicating foul play. Based on the positionality the victim's body was found in, this tragic death is most likely an accidental death."

Mejica was reported missing in August 2020, the coroner's office said. In a 2020 Facebook post, the Oakland Police Department said Mejica was known to visit homeless encampments in the city. His family had offered a $5,000 reward for information.