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Human Head Hollywood Sign

January 19, 2012 by staff 

Human Head Hollywood SignHuman Head Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles police are working to determine the identity of a man whose head, feet, and hands were found along a popular walking trail in the rugged hills near the Hollywood sign, with close to 50 investigators scouring the rough terrain for additional body parts.

The remains were discovered at about 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, when two women walking nine dogs spotted a human head in Bronson Canyon Park after it flopped out of a plastic bag two of their dogs were playing with.

“One of the dogs took off into the brush and started shaking the bag,” said Andy Smith, a commander with the Los Angeles Police Department.

The following morning, a coroner’s cadaver dog named Indiana Bones found the first severed hand in a pile of brush by trees just off a dirt trail, about 50 feet away from where the head was discovered. A few hours later, the second hand and feet were found in a deep, rugged canyon nearby.

The body parts were discovered near a concrete ramp frequented by skateboarders.

Jason Redmond

Police suspect the remains belong to a man of European or Armenian descent in his 40s or 50s, with salt-and-pepper hair. Police also believe he was killed elsewhere and dumped within the last couple of days, as there is little sign of decomposition.

The killer most likely scattered the body parts to avoid detection, said Craig Harvey, chief of the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

“Clearly they didn’t want the person to be identified,” said Harvey. “You are trying to prevent identification or discovery. It is easy to get a handle on it if you dismember your victim. You can throw stuff away inconspicuously. But obviously he didn’t throw it far enough away, or maybe a coyote dragged it up from the depth of the floor of the forest.”

Meanwhile, police are scouring through missing persons reports, surveying nearby garbage containers, and knocking on doors along Canyon Drive in an effort to find a resident who may have noticed anything unusual in the last few days. Police also are hoping to pull fingerprints from one of the hands and determine the identity of the head.

“You are trying to prevent identification or discovery. It is easy to get a handle on it if you dismember your victim.”

As detectives continue with their investigation, the grisly finds are prompting speculation that the man could have been killed by one of Mexico’s drug cartels, which are known to decapitate their victims.

“People have mentioned a drug cartel, but they try to make a splash,” said Smith. “I don’t think that is the case here. I think it is an isolated incident.”

Bronson Canyon Park, which closes at sunset, is a popular spot for local dog walkers, joggers, horseback riders, and tourists. On the weekends, the park is filled with families who host birthday parties and yoga instructors who give free lessons. The nearby trails are several miles long and wind toward the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign. Park rangers are regular fixtures along the trails on the weekends, but the park is relatively empty during the week, which could have provided the killer with an opportunity to dispose of the remains without being detected.

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