Jul. 29—Norman police are still investigating after finding the body of a woman with special needs in the basement of a Norman home earlier this year.
Court records show that in May 2021, Norman police received a tip that there was a body in the basement of a home at 715 W. Lindsey St. On inspection, officers found a badly decomposed female body in a box under the home's basement stairs.
The state medical examiner's office later identified the woman as Margarita Sandoval, a woman with special needs who was living with her brother and his wife until she was reported missing in 2018 by other family members.
According to a search warrant affidavit, Sandoval started living with her brother Octavio Sanchez and his wife Desiree in early 2018 at their Norman apartment.
Sandoval filed a police report in February 2018 alleging that her brother and his wife were abusing her. The responding officer noted visible bruising on Sandoval's arms hands and face.
Court records say Sandoval's other family members reported her missing at some point in 2018, and that she was last seen living at her brother and sister-in-law's home.
After Sandoval's disappearance, the Sanchezes allowed their friend Miguel Munoz and his children to live with them while the family got settled in Oklahoma. The couple eventually helped Munoz find and secure a house at 715 W. Lindsey St.
Munoz, who allowed police to search his basement in May 2021, said he knew nothing about a body in basement and that he hadn't seen the Sanchezes since May 2020. He said he had allowed Octavio to store some items in the Lindsey Street home's basement after he and his family moved in.
When police searched the home in May, they found a 3-by-4-foot box tucked out of sight under the basement stairs and wrapped in dense plastic, packing tape and rope. The officer who cut into the plastic encountered bugs, liquid and the smell of a decomposing corpse.
Police were able to confirm, via x-rays run by the department's bomb squad, that the box seemed to contain a human body. The medical examiner's office handled the rest of the identification.
Norman police discovered in interviews that while Munoz and his children briefly lived with the Sanchezes, Munoz's teenage daughter heard the couple discussing "a dead body in the basement." When she and her family moved to the Lindsey Street house, she noticed the home had a basement and assumed the Sanchezes were referring to that house.
After finding the body in the Lindsey Street house, Norman police served a search warrant at the Sanchez home, where they found documents showing that the couple was collecting Sandoval's Social Security benefits.
An NPD spokesperson said officers "are actively completing a through and detailed investigation," and noted no further information is currently available from the police department.
Emma Keith is the editor of The Transcript, where she covers Norman Public Schools and the University of Oklahoma. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at @emma_ckeith.