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Drug-charge guilty plea in dry-ice case

Newport Beach man who kept his dead girlfriend in a plastic container in his hotel room gets four years.

September 30, 2008|Christopher Goffard | Times Staff Writer

Stephen David Royds, the high-living drug dealer who kept his girlfriend's corpse frozen in a 2-by-3-foot plastic bin at the Fairmont Newport Beach hotel for as long as a year, pleaded guilty Monday to drug charges and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Royds' plea at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach closes the criminal case against him and leaves unresolved -- perhaps forever -- the question of why Monique Felicia Trepp, 33, a former stripper and waitress, was stashed in dry ice in the posh hotel room she'd shared with Royds.

Police investigated Royds after an informant reported buying cocaine from him at a Newport Beach bar called the Classic Q. During a search in March of Room 966 at the hotel where Royds lived, investigators said they found Trepp's body, described as "moderately decomposed," in a Rubbermaid container. They also found an electric reciprocating saw on the bed.

Royds became so distraught during the search that he had to be hospitalized.

An autopsy report showed that Trepp had died from an overdose of cocaine and alcohol. There was no evidence of trauma. Authorities said she showed no sign of defensive injuries and might have been dead for a year, and Royds was not a suspect in her death.

Police arrested Royds on suspicion of possession and sale of cocaine.

A 47-year-old New Zealand native, Royds was reportedly a champion-caliber skier who moved to the United States about 20 years ago to pursue the sport and eventually turned to dealing cocaine, authorities said.

Police say he had used several aliases, including "Mel Profitt," the name of a high-living, drug-dealing character from the 1980s television drama "Wiseguy."

On Monday, in what was originally scheduled to be a preliminary hearing in the case, Royds pleaded guilty to felony counts of transportation of cocaine and possession of cocaine for sale. He also admitted to a prior drug conviction.

The charges, coupled with a probation violation, otherwise might have brought him nine years in prison, said prosecutor Jeff Levy.

Levy speculated that Royds might have felt he was "stuck between a rock and a hard place" if he reported his girlfriend's death, because a warrant was out for his arrest.

Royds' plea requires him to register as a drug offender.

Royds declined an interview with The Times but told the Orange County Register previously that he'd preserved his girlfriend "for religious reasons."--

christopher.goffard@latimes.com

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