Gay SF man's 2018 killing gets new look from TV's Grace

  • by Ed Walsh, BAR Contributor
  • Wednesday October 11, 2023
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A Fox Nation crew, right, looked into Brian Egg's backyard during a recent visit in preparation for a show about the case. Police had found bone fragments in a planter there after searching the home in 2018. Photo: Ed Walsh
A Fox Nation crew, right, looked into Brian Egg's backyard during a recent visit in preparation for a show about the case. Police had found bone fragments in a planter there after searching the home in 2018. Photo: Ed Walsh

Nationally known legal commentator and television personality Nancy Grace is blasting the San Francisco Police Department's handling of the grisly killing of a gay man in 2018.

Grace and her Fox Nation team are investigating the death of Brian Egg, 65, whose torso was found in a fish tank in his South of Market home two and a half months after he disappeared. No one has been prosecuted for the crime and it remains unsolved. Grace plans to profile the case as one of three unsolved crimes for a yet-unnamed Fox Nation streaming series planned for next year. A producer and camera crew were in San Francisco and Palm Springs last week interviewing people with knowledge of the case, including a reporter from the Bay Area Reporter.

"We chose to cover the Brian Egg case for many reasons," Grace stated to the B.A.R. in an email interview. "I don't like the idea that pleas for help are ignored. It pains me to hear that victims' voices go unheard. This neighborhood and all Egg's friends and family think no one cares. That's wrong ... we care.

"This case is almost unbelievable," she added. "Neighbors call police multiple times to check on Egg, a neighbor, known in the community for tenderly caring for plants and even inviting the homeless to his home if they needed a place to stay. Police didn't come and neighbors spotted unknown individuals coming in and out of Egg's home, but no Egg. The final straw? They spot soapy water pouring out of the house, smell bleach, and later, a crime scene cleanup van is spotted outside. Police arrest the guys who ordered the professional cleaning crew, but then let them go! WE WANT JUSTICE FOR BRIAN EGG."

A 2019 autopsy report revealed Egg's cause of death was "unspecified homicidal violence with blunt force trauma," as the B.A.R. previously reported.

TV legal commentator Nancy Grace. Photo: Courtesy Fox Nation  

Grace said she was hopeful that her report will help generate new leads.

"I truly believe that media attention and investigations like ours can definitely heat up a cold case," she stated. "The more attention a case gets, the more people hear about it, and the more people start talking. That's when memories are jogged and hopefully, tips will follow.

"I remain hopeful that justice will prevail," the former prosecutor wrote. "I've spent my life dedicated to representing crime victims, often women, children, minorities and others who seemingly have no voice, like Brian Egg. He no longer has a voice, it's wrong."

When asked whether she and her team faced difficulty from San Francisco city officials as the B.A.R. did in its efforts on the case, Grace responded, "Yes, we've faced some roadblocks in this investigation. Police tell us it's an ongoing and 'active' investigation as reason not to comment. We have also, however, met neighbors and others who insist they won't give up until Egg's killer is behind bars. That keeps us going."

San Francisco police turned down Grace's request for an interview about the case, she added. Police did not respond to the B.A.R.'s request for comment.

Brian Egg's 2018 death has been ruled a homicide. Photo: Courtesy SFPD  

Police had said that Egg was last seen near his home on 228 Clara Street some time in late May or early June 2018. One of the two people initially arrested for the crime, Lance Silva, then 39, purchased a 2007 BMW for $5,000 using Egg's debit card on June 1, 2018. Silva was held in jail in Alameda County on a parole violation until April 2019. He was on parole for a grand theft conviction stemming from his embezzlement of his employees' retirement accounts. The B.A.R. talked to Silva briefly through a video call in jail but he would only respond that he wanted to talk to his lawyer.

Police said that after getting calls about Egg's disappearance and reports of strangers living in the home, they visited the home three times but left after there was no answer at the door. After the third visit to the home, witnesses said there were signs of someone doing a deep clean to the home with soapsuds and the smell of bleach seeping from the front of the house.

Police finally entered the residence on August 14, 2018 after being alerted by neighbors when a crime scene cleanup crew showed up at the home. Police arrested Robert McCaffrey, then 52, at the home. He met the cleanup crew and planned to pay them for the work in cash. He was released days later after authorities said there wasn't sufficient evidence to charge him.

After searching the home for four days, police found Egg's torso in a six foot long fish tank. It was in a small room and the doorway to the room was hidden by a picture. Egg's head and hands were missing. The tank was filled with drain cleaner in an apparent attempt to dissolve the remains. Human bone fragments were found in a planter in the backyard.

Lesbian former San Francisco Police commissioner Petra DeJesus tried in 2018 to get Police Chief William Scott to talk about the department's "wellness check" policy. As the B.A.R. reported at the time, DeJesus' efforts to question Scott at a police commission meeting were met with opposition from the commission's clerk and another commissioner, who said the item needed to appear on the agenda before it could be discussed.

Egg's brother, Devin Egg, previously told the B.A.R. that he had called his brother in June or July but the person who answered the phone said his name was "Nate" and that Brian would call him as soon as he returned home from walking his dog. He never called back. Devin Egg said that an answering machine was installed on his brother's home phone with a mysterious voice that said that Brian Egg was on vacation. Devin Egg said his brother was not big on technology and never owned an answering machine.

Neighbors were critical of the police response, telling the B.A.R. that their suspicions were not taken seriously. Police would not disclose to the B.A.R. how many calls they received reporting Egg's disappearance and suspicious activity at the home, because, they said, the case is under investigation.

The B.A.R. attempted to reach the building owner and got a generic voicemail greeting. A message left at the number was not returned.

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