As a Texas couple was moving into their new home in Houston on Saturday, they made an unpleasant discovery: Bones, visible through a space in the attic wall.
It was possible the bones were the remains of the previous owner, who vanished two years ago. Along with the mortal remains, the new homeowners found red eyeglasses, of the type the house's previous owner was known to wear.
But who, if anyone, hid the bones - or why they were in the house - remained a mystery, according to local authorities.
The bungalow's previous owner, Mary Cerruti, went missing in 2015. She was 61. To the Houston Chronicle, neighbours described Cerruti as kind and introverted.
She ceased to pay her mortgage in 2014. The grass began to grow high around the house, a 1930s bungalow worth US$400,000 (4575,000). Her mail began to accumulate. Neighbours notified the police that they had not seen her; a missing-person report was filed in 2015.
One day that year, firefighters arrived to clear out the house.
"When the firetrucks were there, they said the smell was so bad in the house," a neighbour, April Lidell, recalled to news station KHOU. "They figured it was from the cats, because God knows how long they had been in there without food or water."
By the middle of 2016, the bank began the process of foreclosing on the house. Ultimately it was sold to the couple.
On Saturday, the new homeowners discovered the skeleton. The bones showed signs of animal disturbance, police said. According to the Chronicle, the owners expressed surprise that various parties who had entered the house previously - animal control to catch Cerruti's cats, police looking for the missing woman, renovators to replace the roof - somehow did not discover the bones.
The couple was concerned about the body's discovery. "Was it someone who was killed and stuffed in the wall, or did they accidentally pass away by ending up in the wall?" said Jason Fay, a Houston police detective, the Associated Press reported.
Authorities extracted the remains, but the owners declined to spend Saturday night in the house.