The mysterious death of a San Francisco man last month is coming a bit more into focus as we learn a couple of new details from the SFPD.
50-year-old Mission District resident Christopher Woitel, who went missing under odd circumstances on January 9 and whose death was subsequently confirmed after a second search of his apartment on Monday, likely was not the victim of a homicide, as Bay City News reports via new information from the SFPD. His cause of death remains under investigation by the county medical examiner, but police say that they foul play is not being considered at this time.
After initially not finding any sign of Woitel or any indication of foul play during a mid-January search of his apartment at 65 Guerrero Street, the SFPD returned to search the premises again on Monday. Three of Woitel's siblings flew to San Francisco last week to aid in the effort to find him, and were seen passing out flyers at Market and Guerrero, before the grim discovery was made.
According to police, Woitel's body was found in a three-foot-high crawl space above the bathroom of his apartment — a space that he likely accessed via a hatch in the roof of the building.
"Personnel from the San Francisco Fire Department arrived and needed
to cut a hole in the ceiling in order to retrieve Mr. Woitel’s remains," police said in a release.
Woitel was first reported missing on January 13 by his mother, as Bay City News reports, after she and other family members had not heard from him since January 9. His credit cards and cellphone also showed no signs of use after that date — and as Mission Local reported last week via a private investigator hired by the family, the cellphone turned up in the possession of a homeless man staying in Emeryville whom Woitel had frequently welcomed into his apartment. According to friends, Woitel was infatuated with the man, who goes by the name Bood, and despite living off disability himself was known to frequently buy things for Bood and give him money.
But Woitel and the man apparently had some sort of falling out on January 7, and surveillance footage from inside Woitel's apartment building shows him arriving home on January 8 with a bottle of wine, and then never leaving after that.
Woitel, who had a history of depression, had been sounding increasingly agitated and paranoid in the days leading up to his disappearance. Family members say he was disturbed by the events of January 6 in Washington, and had been talking about needing to escape San Francisco for fear that Trump supporters were going to be attacking the city. He also complained of needing money for a new cellphone, and it's unclear if Bood stole the phone when he was seen entering and leaving Woitel's home on January 7.
It's a sad story no matter what the ultimate details turn out to be, and the family remains in mourning. For now, it sounds like there won't be a murder investigation.
We'll update you if and when more details emerge.
Top image via the Woitel family.
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