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Editorial:

Hiding body, causing pain merits felony

August 16, 2008

A man keeps a woman packed in dry ice for about a year, according to police.

Mind you, he wasn’t responsible for her death; the woman died of a drug overdose. But this man, Stephen Royds, kept the body of former Huntington Beach resident Monique Felicia Trepp in dry ice in a 2-by-3-foot plastic bin in a room at the Fairmont Newport Beach hotel, police say.

Shouldn’t there be a law against that?

Well, there is. It’s a misdemeanor offense to fail to report a death.

Which begs the question: Shouldn’t the law be more punitive?

We think so.

In the case of Royds, prosecutors will pursue only the initial felony narcotics charges originally filed unless new evidence surfaces, said Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

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In other words, prosecutors are interested in the weightier portion of the law. Why mess around with a misdemeanor?

And that’s precisely the problem.

In the big scheme of things, it could be argued that concealing a dead body for nearly a year inflicts more unprovoked harm to innocent people than selling narcotics, which, despite its sordid nature and dire ramifications, requires a willful (and criminal) buyer.

Consider: Trepp’s family and friends must have fretted for month after month before finding out their loved one was dead of an overdose of cocaine and alcohol, according to the Orange County coroner’s office. She was 33.

Not to be overlooked is the fact police also found photographs of blond women, an electric saw and papers on body decomposition in Royds’ room, according to search warrants.

Can you imagine? Somebody should be held accountable.

Somebody, in fact, should pay a price, and it shouldn’t be a slap on the wrist.

It should be a felony.


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