Nearly two months after a San Francisco chef was found dead under suspicious circumstances in a downtown shopping center, his passing remains an apparent mystery — much to the dismay of his girlfriend, who suggests that mall management is engaged in a cover-up of his slaying.
You likely recall the situation: On Wednesday, August 10, a male victim of what at the time the San Francisco Police Department termed a homicide was discovered at Union Square-area Westfield Centre at 10:15 that morning.
That deceased male turned out to be 28-year-old San Francisco resident Frank Galicia, a line chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant Sons & Daughters on Nob Hill. Six days later, the SFPD said that Galica's death in a mall stairwell had been reclassified from a homicide to "suspicious," with police spokesperson Officer Giselle Talkoff saying “At the moment, it doesn’t appear to be a homicide, but it doesn’t appear to be a natural death either."
According to Galicia's girlfriend, that "moment" has stretched to today, with police keeping mum on their investigation of her partner's passing.
Speaking with the SF Examiner, Ariel Mittag-Degala says that police "won’t tell me anything" regarding the case.
At a memorial outside the mall that contained a sign reading "Westfield Mall, HIS LIFE or Your Reputation?," Mittag-Degala says that "she believes there is no way her boyfriend was searching for drugs or died by suicide in that stairwell," the Ex reports.
"Instead, Mittag-Degala thinks he was robbed and killed in a dangerous stairwell with little security, a fact she says mall owners would rather keep quiet."
Mittag-Degala, who had been dating Galicia for three weeks when he died, says she was with him the night before his body was discovered. In fact, she didn't learn of his passing until she called police when she didn't hear from him as she expected the next day. After requesting a well-being check, she says police took her to the Hall of Justice for questioning, and only later did she learn that they had found Galicia's remains that morning.
“They were asking me everything that I could give them,” she recalled. “I didn’t realize that morning that they had found the body in the mall.”
When contacted by SFist, a spokesprson for Westfield Center declined to address Mittag-Delaga's allegations, sending us the same statement they sent the Examiner
“The Centre is cooperating fully with the San Francisco Police Department in its investigation and asks anybody with information to contact the SFPD,” the statement reads.
“Since this remains an active investigation, SFPD has requested that any reporter inquiries are directed to the SFPD media relations office.”
A call to SFPD's media relations department was not returned as of publication time.
According to the Examiner, "Galicia’s cause or manner of death has yet to be classified by the Medical Examiner’s Office." But Mittag-Delaga maintains that Galicia "had turned a corner in a major way,” as "he’d met a girl."
“I know he didn’t want to die."