The death of a Los Angeles repairman took a dramatic turn when authorities discovered that the man who had led a quiet, modest life was actually wanted in connection with the rape of a child in the Seattle area more than a decade ago .

The body of a 56-year-old man, initially identified as Mark Clemens, was found Feb. 26 at a residence in the 700 block of South Spring Street. The Los Angeles Fire Department had responded to a 911 call to the area with an ambulance called around 3 p.m. that day, although the circumstances of the man’s death and how his body was found were not immediately clear .

Los Angeles police said his death does not appear to be a homicide, and the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner’s office postponed releasing his cause of death pending further investigation. But a routine scan of the man’s fingerprints revealed his true identity: Christian R. Basham.

Basham had worked as a construction manager at the Fashion District apartment complex where his body was discovered. His neighbors say he has been working as an independent contractor since a recent change in ownership of the building.

But they were unaware of his infamous past.

Police in Bremerton, Washington, say Basham raped a 13-year-old child in September 2008. He had been released from prison on $350,000 bond when a witness saw Basham jump off the Tacoma Narrows Bridge six months later. He had left a suicide note in his vehicle, which police found at the scene, said Bremerton police Capt. Aaron Elton.

“Multiple agencies conducted a search … but Basham’s body was never found,” Elton said in a news release posted on the agency’s website last week Facebook site.

Elton, who was on the Bremerton force in 2008 but was not assigned to the Basham case, said the criminal case against Basham was ongoing because there had been no confirmation of his death at the time – until now.

Bremerton investigators still hope to find out how Basham came to live in Los Angeles under an alias, Elton said. They are also working to reach the now-adult victim in the rape case, who was not related to Bashman or the victim’s family member, he said.

“It is important to us to inform the victim [he died] in case you don’t know,” Elton said.

Tenants and neighbors of the downtown L.A. building where Basham lived and worked were shocked by his alleged criminal past. Petra Wright, gallery director of Gloria Delson Contemporary Arts, said all she knew about Basham was that he was helpful.

“He was a trustworthy, reliable, hardworking and kind person who was always willing to be there for me when I needed anything,” Wright said of the man she knew as Mark Clemens.

He often helped Wright install or remove bulky pieces in the gallery that were too large for her to handle alone, she said. Some of the curated pieces measure 10 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

“He was always very respectful about removing the artwork and making sure it wasn’t near any hardware … so nothing would get damaged,” she said. “And he was a consummate professional.”

Tommy Cuellar found the news about his former neighbor “very shocking,” he said said ABC-TV Channel 7. “That was our maintenance guy. This was the guy who had the keys to our apartments. It was disturbing to say the least, as you can imagine.”

The building’s previous owners could not be reached for comment on Basham’s employment.

Bremerton police are asking anyone with information about Basham in the years since his faked death in 2009 to contact Det. Derek Ejde at (360) 473-5497 or [email protected].

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