(LOS ANGELES) — A Southern California man whose wife and in-laws are missing is in custody on suspicion of murder in connection with a dismembered female torso discovered several miles from his Los Angeles home, authorities said.
The unidentified human remains were found in a black plastic bag near a dumpster in Encino Wednesday morning, according to the Los Angeles Police Det. Efren Gutierrez. A man searching for recyclables discovered what he suspected were human remains and called 911, Gutierrez said.
Video evidence from the scene and vehicle information led investigators to a house in nearby Tarzana, about 6 miles from the dumpster, police said.
Once officers made entry into the home, they discovered “evidence of a crime, including some blood evidence,” Gutierrez said.
A man who lives at the residence — identified as 35-year-old Samuel Haskell — was booked Wednesday evening on one count of suspicion of murder, police said. He had been tracked to and arrested at the Topanga Mall, Gutierrez said.
The identification of the human remains is ongoing, police said Thursday.
Detectives learned that the evening before the gruesome discovery at the dumpster in Encino, a “suspicious” bag was reported outside Haskell’s home. People working at the house called 911 to report a plastic bag possibly containing human remains, Gutierrez said. Upon arriving at the home, responding officers found no evidence, Gutierrez said.
Amid the investigation, detectives also learned that Haskell’s wife — 37-year-old Mei Li Haskell — and her parents — 71-year-old Gaoshan Li and 64-year-old Yanxiang Wang — are currently missing, police said. They also live at the residence, Gutierrez said.
Police have been unable to reach any of the missing family members by phone, Gutierrez said. Mei Li Haskell’s car was found at the home, though two other vehicles associated with the residence are missing, he said. LAPD said detectives are looking for a white VW Tiguan (license 9ANC890) and a white 2014 Nissan Pathfinder (license 7FRM190).
Samuel and Mei Haskell have three elementary-aged children who were located at their schools on Wednesday and are now with family, police said.
The suspect is the son of a once-prominent Hollywood agent, Samuel Haskell Sr., who founded Magnolia Hill Productions and was the CEO of the Miss America Organization before he resigned amid the 2017 email scandal, according to Los Angeles ABC station KABC.
Haskell is currently being held on $2 million bail. He is due in court on Nov. 13, online jail records show. It is unclear if he has an attorney who can speak on his behalf.
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