A couple taken into custody Tuesday in Cayucos after deputies found a decomposing body in the back of their SUV may have been taking the dead man to Big Sur to be buried, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said.
The Sheriff’s Office identified the man Thursday as Donald Eugene Cunningham, 83, from the Bakersfield area.
An autopsy was performed on Cunningham on Wednesday, but officials said it could take up to eight weeks to determine the cause of death from toxicology results.
On Tuesday, deputies made contact with three people sitting inside a Jeep SUV in the 100 block of F Street in Cayucos and noticed a strong odor coming from the vehicle. Cunningham’s body was found in the SUV’s cargo area.
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Deputies detained Darwin Keith Alaskari, 59, and Sherrie Lynn Boggess, 50, who according to the Sheriff’s Office are both transients from the Bakersfield area, as well as a 13-year-old girl officials say is their daughter.
She remains in the custody of San Luis Obispo County Child Welfare Services.
The Sheriff’s Office said it is still unknown how long the body was in the vehicle, or why Alaskari and Boggess were in the Cayucos area. Investigators believe, however, that the couple was taking the body to be buried in the Big Sur area or possibly out of state.
Alaskari and Boggess were formally arrested Wednesday on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance and child endangerment. According to jail logs, Alaskari is being held in custody at San Luis Obispo County Jail in lieu of $105,000 bail, while bail for Boggess is set at $150,000.
The Sheriff’s Office is still calling the death suspicious and says results of the autopsy could result in additional charges as the investigation continues.