Police made the grim discovery after being asked to carry out a welfare check on Miriam Travis, 87, after an out-of-state family member became concerned she had not heard from her in two months.
Authorities in Riverside, California, say they were met at the house by her daughter who lives at the property and they “started noticing inconsistent statements with her story as to mom’s whereabouts,” Officer Javier Cabrera told NBC News.
“There were just a lot of flags,” added Officer Cabrera.
“Officers were able to go inside the residence, which was disheveled, almost hoard-like conditions. They go inside, go through the garage and in the freezer they locate the mother deceased inside the freezer.”
The 64-year-old daughter was briefly detained by police but not arrested, and investigators are awaiting the results of an autopsy.
“It’s a tragedy as you can imagine. I don’t think any of us could imagine having our mom in a freezer right?” said neighbour Randy Hayes.
Ms Travis worked for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department from 1963 until her retirement in 1990.
“Our hearts are broken by this news and the entire LASD family mourns her loss,” said Sheriff Alex Villanueva in a statement.
Her husband died in 1992, after which she changed the locks on the house, which is around 60 miles east of Los Angeles, and cut off contact with her extended family, said a relative, Kerri Nickell of Oklahoma.
“It was like this is my grandmother one day, and then we never heard from her again,” Ms Nickell told the Press-Enterprise.
She also described Ms Travis and her daughter as “kind of hermits.”
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