Santa Cruz Police arrested I. John Clauer, 63, of the 1100 block of East Cliff Drive Tuesday after they were called to his apartment to investigate a bad smell.
Officers found the decomposing body of a 30-year-old woman at the home with Clauer. The body, they said, had been decomposing for several days.
The cause of death is under investigation and so is the fact that Clauer didn't report the death to police. Clauer, who is on parole for selling marijuana to a juvenile under 14, was booked into Santa Cruz County Jail.
"This is the weirdest case I've seen," said Deputy Chief Steve Clark. "And I've been here 25 years."
Clark said police are investigating the death as a homicide and would release the name of the victim after her next of kin has been notified. Clark said she had a criminal record, as did Clauer. However, he said, if the medical examiner comes back with a report that indicates a natural death, they will approach it with other charges, such as failure to report the death to police.
Clauer has a history of convictions for drug possession, burglary and drug sales, Clark said. Clauer talked to police while waiting for his attorney, and while officers couldn't ask him questions, they got what they said were conflicting accounts of the death.
"He is either the suspect in a homicide or his behavior in not reporting the death is suspicious," said Clark. "The smell was so bad it prompted a call from neighbors."