Boys find body in Keys |

Boys find body in Keys

Gregory Crofton

A snow-covered mountain and pink sunset that enveloped the Tahoe Keys early Monday night betrayed a grisly reality.

Floating in a lagoon just yards from a vacation home on Venice Drive was the bloated and decomposing body of a man who still had a semi-automatic gun in his possession.

A group of four boys who live in the area found the faceless corpse about 6:45 p.m. The boys were throwing water balloons until they decided to hop in a red canoe and paddle along the shore of the lagoon. Almost right away they saw what they thought was a beaver’s nest.

“We said ‘It looks like a body,’ then we said, ‘It is a body,’ when we got real close,” said Brendan Hardin, 10. “It had a big stomach and its hands were purple. He was wearing a tuxedo and there was blood around his head.”

The boys headed about 7 feet back to shore and told a parent.

“It’s amazing these kids found it,” said Chani Lau, who lives just yards from where the body turned up and was told about it by his 9-year-old son. “I called it in. First I thought it was a Halloween doll. I didn’t believe it until I looked closely and saw the hand. It’s scary, very scary. Tahoe is supposed to be a safe spot.”

Divers made their way past thick woody brush that rings the lagoon to get to the body. About 7:40 p.m. a diver held up the gun that had emerged from the water. Minutes later the body was wrestled into a blue body bag and dragged, by several men, to the edge of the Venice Drive backyard. The owners of the home live in Berkeley, Calif. Lau said he had not seen anyone in the house for several weeks.

About one-eighth of a mile from the location of the body is 1579 Venice Drive, the spot where several weeks ago an owner of a vacation home there found a car rented by 45-year-old Rebecca Barr, a woman found murdered near Fallen Leaf Lake in March. Last week El Dorado County Sheriff’s investigators were in her home state of Oregon looking for her husband, Robert Barr, 57.

South Lake Tahoe Police did not say if they believed they had found his body.

“All I know right now is we have a body that’s been out there for a while. You can tell that from the state of decomposition,” said South Lake Tahoe Police Sgt. Alex Schumacher. “We’re going to keep the scene clear until detectives search the area. Right now we’re treating it as criminal for the time being.”

Rebecca Barr’s body was found March 26. She died because a bullet was fired into her at close range. El Dorado County Sheriff’s investigators identified her corpse more than a week later through missing person’s Teletype system.

She was wearing a gray and white-pinstriped pant suit with a matching jacket and vest and one black high-heeled shoe. Investigators still don’t know why the couple came to Lake Tahoe.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.