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Cops Mum in Case of Walled-Up Cadaver

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday January 07, 2009 - 06:37:00 PM

While Berkeley police have identified the body found walled up in a Berkeley apartment building at 2235 Ashby Ave., they aren’t saying anything about how or why he died. 

One the day before Christmas, police revealed that the Alameda County Coroner had used dental records to identify the badly decomposed cadaver as Taruk Joseph Ben Ali, who was born April 14, 1968. 

Police said the man had been missing since 2004. 

Police found the body two days after his father, 60-year-old Hassan Ben Ali, had shot himself to death during a confrontation with Berkeley police, who had been called to his apartment Dec. 15 by reports of a loud argument at the Ashby building. 

Once officers had entered the apartment, Ben Ali “pulled a handgun, put it to his head and subsequently took his own life,” said Berkeley police spokesperson Officer Andrew Frankel on the day after the body was found in the wall. Police issued no press release about that suicide, which became news only after the discovery of the body of the dead man’s son two days later. 

Officer Frankel said the younger man’s case “is still being investigated as a suspicious death.” 

The officer said more information might be released “when the coroner is done” but declined to say whether the autopsy had been completed or what it might have revealed. 

“We’re not ready to share that information,” Frankel said, adding that a future press release might provide further details. 

Police have also declined to say what information had led them to the discovery of the second body.