Nearly a year after a San Francisco chef was found dead at the Westfield San Francisco Centre mall, his cause of death remains a mystery. But though police say they are not investigating the death as a homicide, details from an official report suggest the victim was "positioned" at the scene.
It was August 10 of 2016 when reports surfaced of a man found dead at the Powell and Market-area mall. The victim was identified as 28-year-old San Francisco resident Frank Galicia, a line chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant Sons & Daughters.
Initially investigated as a homicide, the San Francisco Police Department reclassified the incident as a "suspicious death" a week later. “At the moment, it doesn’t appear to be a homicide, but it doesn’t appear to be a natural death either,” police spokesperson Officer Giselle Talkoff said at the time.
Eleven months later, we're learning why Talkoff described the circumstances of Galicia's death that way. In a dogged follow-up report in today's San Francisco Examiner, the details of Galicia's death scene are revealed. Warning: They are not pretty.
According to a report from the San Francisco Medical Examiner's office released in February, Galicia was found in an "evacuation stairwell" of the mall, the locked door of which "had apparently been compromised."
The Ex reports that Galicia "was found by a building engineer lying on the floor with his legs leading up the stairs. He had a rope, which had been tied to a rail, around his head. The rope was in his mouth."
"His pants and underwear were pulled down and he had a number of blunt force wounds on his body," the Ex reports.
The Medical Examiner's report reads that Galicia "appeared to have been dragged for some distance (suggesting other person involved), but it is unclear how he came to be positioned with his mouth in the rope."
A toxicology report showed that Galicia had alcohol and meth in his system, but neither level was fatal. According to Ariel Mittag-Degala, who had just started dating Galicia in the weeks before his death and who had been with him the night before his body was discovered, there's "no way" Galicia took his own life or was searching for drugs when he died. Instead, as of October she said that she instead believed that he was robbed and killed in a poorly-secured stairwell, leading to an alleged cover-up by mall management.
The SFPD did not respond to an Examiner request for comment on the status of the investigation into Galicia's death, but according to the ME's office, as of today "the cause of death is unknown, and the manner of death is best categorized as undetermined.”