The Queenstown man at the centre of the bizarre United States “body on ice” scandal in 2008 is back in New Zealand and heading home, Mountain Scene can reveal.
Stephen Royds, 48, has been released from the California Correctional Institution after serving half of a four-year sentence for drug convictions.
Royds made international headlines two years ago when police raided his swanky Newport Beach Hotel room and discovered the frozen body of his girlfriend, Monique Trepp, hidden in a plastic chilly bin.
He’d managed to preserve the corpse for a year using dry ice.
The once-promising downhill skier, who quit New Zealand for the US in the early 1980s, wasn’t charged with failing to report Trepp’s death. Toxicology tests proved Trepp, 33, died from a cocaine and alcohol overdose.
Royds’ mother Sally confirmed to Mountain Scene on Tuesday that her son flew to NZ last week and is returning to live in the resort.
“He is, but he doesn’t really want to talk to anybody at this stage until he’s ready.”
The family will reunite “when we can organise it”.
She spoke to Royds last week for the first time since his release from the maximum-security jail at the end of April. He was subsequently held in another facility while being processed by US immigration, but Royds was unable to call Sally and his father John at that time. Prior, he spoke to his parents once or twice a week from prison.
“He’s looking forward to getting out of there and coming home,” Sally said in an earlier interview. “He’s hoping to sort a lot of [that chapter in his life] out.”
Sally and John last saw their son during a visit to the US in the late 1990s. A couple of years later they stopped hearing from him altogether.
Little did they know, Royds was living a life of luxury – limousines, bars, fast cars, expensive clothes and drugs.
He also used the aliases of Mel Profitt – a drug lord played by Kevin Spacey on 1980s TV show Wiseguy – and posed as his US-based brother Anthony John Royds. He’d been wanted for skipping a six-month sentence for a 2002 drug conviction when cops came knocking at his $300-a-night hotel digs in March 2008.
Finding 54 grams of cocaine inside his room, police also discovered a raft of weird items like lamps made out of sake bottles, night-vision goggles and wrapped-up Christmas presents – as well as Trepp’s frozen corpse.
At the time of his arrest, Royds reportedly said: “Everything happened for religious reasons.”
He pleaded guilty to the drug charges in September 2008.
Sally says her son hasn’t talked much about what happened: “He doesn’t really want to talk about it till he gets home and we can talk face to face.”
She says she’s an understanding mum. “With your kids you have to. It’s all a learning curve and it never ends.”