Coroner IDs teens found dead

The boy and his father had lived in the apartment where the bodies were found, manager says. Four Loko and drug use are tied to the incident, according to police.

January 26, 2011|By Michael Miller,

Two teenagers whose bodies were found Friday in a vacant Huntington Beach apartment have been identified by the coroner.

Aaron Saenz, 15, of Westminster and Chelsea Taylor, 16, of Huntington Beach were found shortly after 10 a.m. Friday in a vacant apartment at Via Verde, a 277-unit complex at 15555 Huntington Village Lane. The bodies were found next to an empty can of the caffeinated alcohol drink Four Loko, police Lt. Russell Reinhart said.

Staff at the complex called police when they glimpsed the teens through the window of the apartment, Reinhart said. It was unclear whether the teens were alive when police were called or how long they had been dead before officers arrived, he said.


"Management called and said, 'There's somebody inside,'" Reinhart said. "They didn't know if they were alive or deceased at the time."

Reinhart said officers found other indications of drug and alcohol use in the apartment, but he declined to elaborate because the investigation was ongoing.

Claudia Lara, a community manager for Via Verde, said Aaron's father had lived at the complex recently, and the bodies were found in his former apartment. She noted that the upscale complex, near Golden West College and the Bella Terra shopping center, rarely experienced police visits.

Via Verde, which features on-site management and maintenance staff, contains upstairs and downstairs apartments and townhomes surrounded by waterfalls, winding streams and trees. Lara said rents start around $1,400 and only a few units are vacant.

Resident Woody Gilmore, who has lived at Via Verde for two years, said he returned home from work shortly after noon Friday and found part of the complex surrounded by police.

"I just remember there were a whole lot of cop cars here," he said.

A state spokesman said Four Loko is illegal in California after the Department of Public Health declared in November that it violated state guidelines.

John Carr, a public information officer for the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said the drink's manufacturer had been ordered to put out a new version that didn't mix caffeine with alcohol. As long as the drink contained both ingredients, he said, it could not legally be sold in the state.

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