Day labourers in an affluent Los Angeles neighbourhood have claimed they were paid to remove dismembered body parts from the home of a man now accused of murder.
Samuel Haskell Jr, the 35-year-old son of a once-powerful Hollywood agent, was arrested last week on suspicion of murder after a severed torso believed to belong to his wife was found in a dumpster in Encino. Surveillance video led detectives to Mr Haskell Jr’s home in the coveted neighbourhood of Tarzana, where officers had responded just hours earlier after workers reported seeing what appeared to be human body parts inside trash bags.
The workers who alerted authorities on 7 November told NBC that Mr Haskell paid them $500 to remove what he claimed were three “bags full of rocks” from his home. But once they lifted the bags, the labourers were shocked to see the contents.
“I started seeing body parts, a belly button,” one of the workers, who wished to speak under condition of anonymity, told the network in Spanish. “I was astonished. Of course, I felt bad. We had been tricked.”
The men told NBC they left the three bags on the driveway of Mr Haskell Jr’s home, returned his money and then drove to the police station. Hours later, a homeless man sifting through a dumpster found at least one of the trash bags.
Authorities have not officially confirmed the identity of the victim whose torso was found more than five miles from Mr Haskell Jr’s home, but have said it is believed to be his 37-year-old wife Mei Haskell.
Mei and her parents Gaoshan Li, 72, and YanXiang Wang, 64 have been missing since last week and any attempt to contact them has been fruitless.
Mr Haskell Jr’s arrest was supported by evidence from a search of his home, where he lived with his wife, in-laws and three children, police said. The children were located safe at school following Mr Haskell Jr’s arrest and are now in the custody of the Department of Family Services.
Mr Haskell Jr is being held on a $2m bail and is expected to have a court appearance on Monday.
He 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.