Grisly dismemberment homicide jolts 14th Street neighbors

Police on June 2 discovered decomposing remains of a dismembered body at this 14th Street home. Photograph by Abraham Rodriguez.

It’s a busy street, once plagued by gangs and criminal activity. Residents of the 200 block of 14th Street are used to much of the worst of city life. But they’re not used to this.

One resident, who did not want to have his name disclosed, said he hadn’t expected a murder to occur right next to his home.

“It’s rough out here, but stuff like what happened — it doesn’t happen too often,” he said.

What happened is one of the city’s grisliest homicides in some time. Lisa R. Gonzales, 47, has been charged with the dismemberment murder of her 61-year-old roommate, Margaret Rose Mamer. Gonzales, who is said to be under observation at the San Francisco jail, did not appear in court on Wednesday afternoon. Judge Victor M. Hwang has ordered her to appear at her arraignment, which has been postponed until Friday morning.

District Attorney George Gascón told reporters he will ask for Gonzales to be held without bail.

From the outside, the dull blue colors of 255 14th street — where Gonzales has resided for decades, and Mamer moved in last year — look pretty ordinary. Sitting squarely in the middle of the block, the building is nondescript, the sidewalks covered in stains from yesteryear, and the street-facing windows are cracked and coated in grime and cracks. A stone’s throw away in a common space of the building, police on Saturday found a dismembered body.

Officers discovered the decomposing remains of Mamer’s body parts in a plastic bin in a storage locker after receiving a missing-persons report for the retiree. According to the charging document, Mamer could have died anytime between May 13 and June 2.

Court documents obtained by Mission Local pinned the dispute to repeated demands by Gonzales that Mamer move out of her apartment — which Mamer purportedly ignored. A witness who also resided in the women’s apartment, referred to as W1 in court papers, described odd smells pervading the flat on May 15 and 16. After detecting a “rotten eggs” smell in the bathroom, W1 asked Gonzales where Mamer was. She was told that Mamer had left, but “not the way she should have.” W1 earlier heard a “sawing” sound coming from the bathroom, which Gonzales told her to not enter. She complied.

W1, on May 31, expressed concerns to a second witness, who contacted police. Independently, one of Mamer’s friends also called police over fears for her safety. Police arrived at the residence for a well-being check on June 2. With permission, they opened a storage locker belonging to Gonzales, and were greeted by a “pungent” odor. A plastic bag was covered in maggots and a “viscous” liquid bubbled out of it. When Gonzales expressed reservations about the officers opening the bag, they stopped, obtained a search warrant, and made an arrest.

Within the bag were Mamer’s severed arms and legs, and intact head and torso.

During a June 2 interview with police, Gonzales purportedly told authorities that she and Mamer had quarreled before she likely “flipped”; Gonzales claims to not have a strong recollection of what happened — but surmises it was “probably nothing good.”

Lisa Gonzalez and Margaret Mamer lived at this nondescript building at 255 14th Street. Photograph by Abraham Rodriguez.

Alex Lilien of the San Francisco Public Defender’s office appeared on Gonzales’ behalf on Wednesday. Assistant District Attorney Adam Maldonado asked for an informal review of her financials to confirm she is eligible for public representation.

Many details are still being withheld by police and the District Attorney’s office. Gonzales’ public defender said he had no more information available other than what was disclosed in court.

One source, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than two decades, said he had no idea there were more than two adults living on the bottom floor of the building. He said Gonzales had been living there for more than two decades with her daughter, and that she was known by sight in the neighborhood, but mostly kept to herself.

Neighborhood resident Socorro Espinoza spends every morning walking down 14th street, and has long been commuting this way on the way to her job on Natoma Street. She said the only thing that has worried her on the block were the homeless camps, but she never felt afraid for her life.

“I only found out today in the morning, when a friend called me to warn me that someone had died on that street,” Espinoza said in Spanish. “I walk on this street all the time.”

Espinoza said she did not expect such a gruesome event would occur on this street, and thought the cameras she saw earlier belonged to a movie crew.

Another resident up the block said he wouldn’t have been able to pick either Gonzalez or Mamer without a photo. They were quiet, he said, and hardly seen. In a street filled with traffic, both Mamer and Gonzales blended in well.

“In this neighborhood, there’s a lot of stuff that goes down. Nothing like this,” said another resident.

Recent calls for service to police can be found on CrimeMapping.

Crime is trauma and the county offers different services, which can be found hereVictims of violent crime can also contact the Trauma Recovery Center at UCSF.

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