San Luis Obispo County

Authorities release autopsy results of body found in back of car in Cayucos

A couple transporting the body were arrested

CAYUCOS, Calif. - [UPDATE 10/05/17]

Autopsy results for a man whose body was discovered by authorities in the back of a Jeep in Cayucos on August 8, 2017, reveals the man died after suffering a heart attack.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Coroner's Office conducted the autopsy of 83-year-old Donald Eugene Cunningham.

The Sheriff's Office said in a statement Thursday afternoon:

"The manner of death is listed as natural. The cause of death is listed as acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) and atherosclerotic coronary artery disease. A contributing cause is listed as acute morphine toxicity, meaning morphine was discovered in his body but was not the underlying cause of death."

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[UPDATE 8/17/17]

The identity of the man whose body was located in the back of a vehicle in Cayucos Tuesday has been identified.

The body of Donald Eugene Cunningham, an 83-year-old transient from the Bakersfield area was found in the back of a Jeep Tuesday afternoon.

Police arrested Darwin Alaskari and Sherrie Lynn Boggess in connection to the body recovery.

It is unclear why the two were transporting the body or if they were connected to Cunningham's death.

[UPDATE 8/16/17]

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office has arrested two people in connection with the body of a man that was discovered in back of a Jeep in Cayucos Tuesday story afternoon.

Darwin Keith Alaskari, 59 and Sherrie Lynn Boggess, 50, the two occupants of the Jeep were arrested. Both are transients from Bakersfield according to the Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office said they arrested the couple for endangering their 13-year-old daughter who was inside the Jeep at the time deputies discovered the body, and misdemeanor warrants.

The decedent is not being identified until his family is notified of his death.

Authorities said Alaskari and Boggess were long acquaintances of the decedent and were in the process of transporting his body in their Jeep. However, investigators have not yet determined the reason. Both have ties to the area but investigators do not know why the couple was in Cayucos at the time of the incident.

Alaskari and Boggess are facing felony child endangerment charges for having their daughter be in close proximity to decomposing human remains and illegal narcotics and paraphernalia that were readily accessible.

The 13-year-old girl was turned over to Child Welfare Services.

An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of the death of the body. The incident remains under investigation.

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ORIGINAL STORY

It's being investigated as a suspicious death--a body found in the back of an SUV this afternoon in Cayucos, just north of Morro Bay.

It was a surprise for investigators. Around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. Patrolling deputies approached a Jeep parked on the wrong side of the road in the 100 block of F Street. A man, woman, and a 13-year-old girl were inside the vehicle at the time, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department.

While they spoke with the occupants of the Jeep, deputies noticed a strong smell coming from the back of the vehicle and that's when they discovered a body in the cargo area of the Jeep. 

"I mean, it's a bummer," neighbor Eric Donnelly said.

Eric Donnelly and the rest of this Cayucos neighborhood were scratching their heads Tuesday.

"Soon as I came around the corner, seen all the cop cars, caution tape, just a big fiasco, people on the streets checking it out, nobody knows what's going on you know," Donnelly said. 

All three occupants of the Jeep were detained for questioning. The Sheriff's Office said there are no arrests at this time.

"Detectives believe this is an isolated incident and the public is not in danger," said SLO County Sheriff's Spokesperson Tony Cipolla.

"Yea just not good news all around, bad vibes for the area," Donnelly said.

At about 7:30 p.m., the body was finally removed from the Jeep and driven out of the area and brought to the Coroner's Office for an autopsy. The Jeep was towed away an hour later.


Cipolla said it's safe to say the person had passed away at least a few days ago.

"We don't know if this was natural, suicide, if this is foul play, so right now we're calling this a suspicious death," Cipolla said.

Detectives believe the man, woman and 13-year-old girl who were in the car with the dead body are from Bakersfield. Investigators are still trying to figure out how they're all related.

"Our prayers go out to that person and his family, hopefully he's in a better place and not hanging out with people who are going to leave him dead in the back of a car somewhere," Donnelly said.


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