Mystery Man Found Decomposing In Car Had More Than 1,200 Guns, Cash, Underwater Car
Inside his own head, Jeffrey Alan Lash was a secret government operative under constant surveillance by the CIA, the FBI or both.
He spent lavishly to build up an arsenal of 1,200 firearms, six and half tons of ammunition and explosive-making materials, which he piled high in every room of the small condominium he shared with his fiancee in a well-heeled hillside enclave high above the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles.
He had twelve cars, including one reported to be bullet-proof and worth around $100,000. When he and his fiancee went to dinner at the local Italian restaurant, they drove in separate cars, and always paid in cash.
Any time Lash saw a camera, he would get upset. He told people his name was Bob Smith. Then he died, and things got truly strange.
Police in Los Angeles have spent several days figuring out why Lash’s body ended up in a car outside his house and was left to decompose for almost two weeks. They found it last Saturday – not because of a tip-off from the neighbours, who appear to have been oblivious throughout, but because a lawyer representing his fiancee gave them a call.
They also deployed a bomb squad and chemical experts in Hazmat suits to go through his vast arsenal of weapons and explosives – all of it, to judge police photographs and initial reports from the investigation, acquired legally and left untouched.
Some chemicals were too unstable to transport, so the police blew them up. The tentative conclusion is that Lash was a rich eccentric so caught up in his make-believe world of spying and derring-do that he had his fiancee, Catherine Nebron-Gorin, convinced it was real.
When he was diagnosed with cancer a year ago, he reportedly told her it was the result of chemical weapons exposure on an old mission.
On 3 July, the couple and a friend were shopping at a supermarket in Santa Monica, a few miles away from the house, when Lash became unwell and died in the outdoor parking lot.
Nebron-Gorin later told a friend she had specific instructions from Lash on what to do if he died. Don’t call the authorities. Leave him in a car. Get out of town, and let his minders take care of the body. So she did that.
The friend, a doctor who did not want to be named, told the Palisadian Post newspaper he spent 90 minutes trying to revive Lash in the passenger seat of an SUV outside his house on the night he died as Nebron-Gorin was “wailing and grieving”.
Nebron-Gorin left for Oregon and when she returned she was stunned to see Lash’s body where she had previously left it. She called a high-profile criminal defence lawyer, Harland Braun, whose previous clients have included Dennis Rodman, Roseanne Barr, Gary Busey and Robert Blake, the actor eventually acquitted of murdering his wife in circumstances almost as bizarre as the Lash case.
Braun told the police about the body and warned them the house was stuffed with weapons. And the police immediately evacuated the neighbourhood.
Lash grew up in a modest home near the Los Angeles international airport and had ambitions at one point to become a microbiologist like his father. Then, according to his stepmother, he largely cut himself off from his family and became secretive about what he was doing. “He was just a loner, as far as we were concerned,” Shirley Anderson told the Los Angeles Times. “He just became weird because he changed all of a sudden.”
There was no immediate explanation of how he obtained his money or what, if anything, he had done for a living. According to police estimates, Lash spent at least half a million dollars, and perhaps more than twice that, on his weapons stash. The condominium, which is in Nebron-Gorin’s name, last sold for $440,000 in 1991.
Braun, the lawyer, said he doubted the story about working for the government was true. “Whether he really was working undercover for some government agency or not,” Braun told the Palisadian Post, “he was convinced he was and he had my client convinced.”
Lash’s neighbours said they too were told Lash had worked for the CIA and found him odd. One employee of the Casa Nostra restaurant said Lash and Nebron-Gorin had eaten most of their meals there for the past seven years. Invariably, Lash would order raw filet mignon.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – An attorney said Wednesday that the body of a mystery man was decomposing in his car in the tony Pacific Palisades neighborhood in Southern California for nearly two weeks before he was found by authorities on July 17.
Inside his home, detectives discovered more than 1,200 guns, scopes, 6.5 tons of ammunition, bows and arrows, knives, machetes and $230,000 in cash.
They also found eight of the 14 vehicles registered to the man stashed across Los Angeles, including a Toyota SUV designed to drive underwater.
Who the man was and how he came to accumulate the arsenal and vehicles are questions authorities are still trying to answer.
Veteran defense attorney Harland Braun represents the man’s fiancée Catherine Nebron and identified him as Jeffrey Alan Lash.
That’s also the name coroner’s officials are working with and they’re in touch with a relative to try to officially identify the body, said Craig Harvey, chief of investigations for the coroner’s office.
Lash and Nebron were together for 17 years and she believed him when he told her that he worked as an undercover operative for multiple unnamed government agencies, Braun said.
“The story itself sounds totally crazy but then how do you explain all this?” Braun said. “There’s no evidence he was a drug dealer or he stole these weapons, or had any criminal source of income, no stolen property, all the stuff you’d look for.”
LAPD Deputy Chief of Detectives Kirk Albanese said there’s no indication the man was doing anything illegal with the weapons. Detectives were reviewing everything, but so far the guns appeared to be registered to him. Many were still in boxes or had price tags.
Braun said Nebron and two friends were in a car at a supermarket early July 4, when Lash felt hot and had trouble breathing. For three hours they tried to ice him down.
“He wouldn’t go to a hospital and didn’t want any 911 call,” Braun said. When he died, Nebron parked him in a car down the street from the condo they shared, the lawyer said.
Police say they don’t believe there was any foul play involved in his death, but the official cause has been deferred pending further investigation.
Lash told Nebron the government agencies would take care of his body and the items in the home, so Nebron and her friends took a trip to Oregon, distraught.
When they returned about 10 days later, Nebron was shocked to still see Lash’s body in the car.
She contacted Braun, and together they contacted Los Angeles police, who found the body, guns and more.
The guns are worth more than $5 million, Braun said, and along with the ammunition, took three days to remove from the home, which remains piled 6-feet high with items throughout.
“Hoarding times 10,” Braun said.
Neighbors thought Lash was dying of cancer because he appeared to be degenerating over the past year, but Lash told Nebron that he had been exposed to nerve-damaging chemicals on a mission and his condition was worsening.
Research Credit: Eric S