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California man accused of dismembering wife and in-laws appears shirtless in court

The son of a Hollywood executive who is accused of killing his wife and her parents, allegedly dismembering at least one of the bodies, appeared shirtless in court on Friday.

Samuel Haskell Jr, 35, wore an anti-suicide smock around his waist, revealing his bare chest, and held a small milk carton in his hand as he stood before a judge who decided he would be held without bail, KTLA reported.

It was the first appearance for the Californian since his arrest last month in the brutal slayings of his wife, Mei Haskell, 27, her mother, Yanxiang Wang, 64, and her stepfather, Gaoshan Li, 72.

Mr Haskell did not enter a plea and his attorney requested a continuance of the hearing. He will officially face charges at his arraignment, which has been postponed to 12 January 2024.

Samuel Haskell Jr stands shirtless in a Los Angeles County courtroom during a hearing on 8 December (KTLA)
Samuel Haskell Jr stands shirtless in a Los Angeles County courtroom during a hearing on 8 December (KTLA)

The victims were last seen on or about 6 November at their home in the affluent neighbourhood of Tarzana. The following day, Mr Haskell allegedly hired four day-labourers to haul three heavy black plastic trash bags from his garage.

“One of the laborers opened one of the bags and allegedly observed human body parts,” according to a news release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. “They called 911 and reported the incident.”

However, by the time LAPD officers arrived at the home, the bags had been removed from the driveway of the residence, where the labourers had left them after returning the $500 they had been paid, NBC reported.

Mr Haskell was later linked to the torso found in the dumpster after he was reportedly on surveillance video placing a large trash bag in a dumpster off Ventura Boulevard in Encino.

The torso and body parts found in the dumpster are believed to belong to Mr Haskell’s wife, investigators said. The bodies of her parents have not yet been located.

The couple’s children, who were in school when their mother’s dismembered torso was discovered on 8 November, are in the custody of the DCFS.

This undated photo combination provided by the Los Angeles Police Department shows Mei Haskell, left, and her parents, YanXiang Wang and Gaoshan Li
This undated photo combination provided by the Los Angeles Police Department shows Mei Haskell, left, and her parents, YanXiang Wang and Gaoshan Li

Mr Haskell is the son of former Miss Mississippi Mary Donnelly Haskell and Emmy-winning Hollywood producer Sam Haskell Sr, a former Hollywood agent who once represented the likes of Dolly Parton, George Clooney, Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Short and Prince Edward.

If convicted on all three counts of murder, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

“These shocking and gruesome crimes have sent shockwaves through our community. We stand with the victims’ loved ones during this unimaginably difficult time and will do everything in our power to ensure justice is served.,” District Attorney Gascón said in a statement.

“Our Major Crimes Division will work tirelessly to bring about a prosecution that reflects the severity of this devastating crime.”