Mysterious, Disturbing Death of a San Francisco Chef Ruled Homicide


San Francisco chef Frank Galicia was found dead last year in a San Francisco mall

28-year old Frank Galicia landed what he considered his dream job: a chef working in a high-end San Francisco restaurant. However, just as things were looking up for the young chef, disaster struck. Galicia was found mysteriously dead in a way that would baffle police investigators for nearly a year. His lifeless body was slumped at the bottom of a flight of stairs by Bloomingdale's at San Francisco's Westfield Mall on Wednesday at 10:15am. There were numerous scratches and injuries covering his body and part of a rope was found stuffed in his mouth, the other part hanging from a rail on the stairs.

Investigators were unsure whether it was a homicide or self-inflicted. Nearly a year after his death, new autopsy reports have prompted police to finally rule the death a homicide. Detectives are investigating what is now fully believed to be a murder, and are looking at surveillance cameras in the area.

The Westfield Center Mall, San Francisco, where Galicia lifeless body was found slumped at the bottom of a stairwell. His girlfriend originally believed he was murdered and the mall was covering it up.

Galicia landed his dream job as a line chef at Sons & Daughters restaurant in San Francisco last year. The 28-year old moved from Boston to pursue his career, and had been apparently living in hostels to make ends meet. After landing the job, he was able to save enough money to buy an apartment in down town San Francisco, which makes his death all the more tragic.

'Things were finally going well for him. He found an apartment, he was dating a girl,' his brother, Louis Galicia said. His family is devastated by their loss.

'He was a kind spirit with a big heart. His way of connecting with the family was always making us a dish, making us dinner,' Louis Galicia said.

'He never wanted to be in any kind of altercation. He was the brother that went with the flow. With everything else that's going wrong with the world, he was that diamond in the rough that was shining bright every day.'

For over a year the Galicia family, and his girlfriend Ariel Mittag-Degala, were in the dark about what really happened to Frank for nearly a year. His family begged the public to come forward, and his brother Louis explained how the two had a dream of opening a restaurant together.

'He was robbed of his life over something that I'm sure was petty,' Louis Galicia said.

The motive for the killing is still unknown at this time.

Frank and his girlfriend had been dating for just three weeks before his disappearance Wednesday. “He was nowhere to be found,” she said. The next day, she 

“They won’t tell me anything,” she said Monday evening, standing with a group of friends outside of the mall at a sidewalk memorial set up for Galicia.

There were numerous theories about Galicia’s death, Mittag-Degala said, adding that she believes there is no way her boyfriend was searching for drugs or died by suicide in that stairwell.

“I know he didn’t want to die,” she said. Instead, Mittag-Degala thinks he was robbed and killed in a dangerous stairwell with little security, a fact she says mall owners would rather keep quiet.

A representative from Westfield Center declined to provide new details in the case. “The Center is cooperating fully with the San Francisco Police Department in its investigation and asks anybody with information to contact the SFPD,” a statement from the representative reads. “Since this remains an active investigation, SFPD has requested that any reporter inquiries are directed to the SFPD media relations office.”

Frank Galicia had just landed his dream job as a line chef for the high-end, San Francisco restaurant Sons and Daughters.

Friends and colleagues at Sons & Daughters said they found it odd when Frank didn't show up for work on Wednesday. The next day, staff at the Michelin-starred restaurant were told about his death and closed the restaurant out of respect.

'We are shocked and devastated by Frank's passing — we are a small team that operates like a close-knit family and he will be dearly missed,' Sons & Daughters said in an official statement. 'Our thoughts and condolences are with Frank's family and friends at this difficult time.'

Executive chefs Matt McNamara and Teague Moriarty, of Santa Cruz, have since created a GoFundMe page to support Galicia's family who have relocated to San Francisco for the investigation. So far it has raised over $600 of its $5,000 goal. '

"This sudden loss has devastated Frank's family, friends, and his team here at Sons & Daughters," Moriarty wrote on the GoFundMe page. "We were so lucky to have known and [worked] with Frank. The restaurant industry in SF is tight knit and we collectively feel the loss."



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Political Outsource | Reporting The News Others Won't: Mysterious, Disturbing Death of a San Francisco Chef Ruled Homicide
Mysterious, Disturbing Death of a San Francisco Chef Ruled Homicide
San Francisco chef Frank Galicia was found dead last year in a San Francisco mall
Political Outsource | Reporting The News Others Won't
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