Police in California have raided the home of the son of a top Hollywood agent, after a woman’s dismembered torso was found thrown in a dumpster near his house.
Samuel Haskell Jr., 35, was arrested on Wednesday at a mall in Topanga and has been charged with murder.
His wife Mei Haskell, 37, is missing, and detectives are trying to work out whether the torso is hers.
Her parents – who lived with the couple and their three children in Tarzana – are also missing.
Police are now searching for her father Gaoshan Li, 72, and mother, YanXiang Wang, 64, and their missing SUV – a white VW Tiguan.
A white 2014 Nissan Pathfinder is also missing.
The three children, aged 6, 8 and 12 – Samuel Bond Haskell V, James Donnelly Haskell, and William Kirkpatrick Haskell II – were found safe at school and are now with family.
The arrest of Haskell Jr. has rocked their neighborhood in Tarzana, where the family lived in a $2.5 million, six bedroom, house.
He retired from William Morris in 2005, and in 2009 published a memoir entitled ‘Promises I Made My Mother’, which his publishers described as a ‘deeply personal and spiritually-enriching story about living a principled life in unprincipled times.’
In 2012, the multiple Emmy-winner founded Magnolia Hill Productions with Dolly Parton, and produces many of her television specials.
Haskell Sr. was CEO of the Miss America organization from 2015-17, but resigned after he was found to have criticized some of the contestants in private emails, ridiculing one for gaining weight and describing another as promiscuous.
Haskell Sr. is married to a former Miss Mississippi, Mary Donnelly Haskell, his college sweetheart, and the pair have a daughter, Mary Lane, as well as their son Sam IV.
In his company biography, Haskell Sr. says he is ‘widely known as ‘the nice guy in Hollywood’.’
He continues: ‘Haskell is revered for rising to the top of a turbulent and often conscienceless business with his character, integrity and value-system intact.
‘His reputation for honesty, integrity, loyalty and fairness made him a consistent force in a sea of inconsistency and someone with whom actors, writers, directors and other industry professionals were eager to work.’
Haskell Jr.’s social media show him to have a taste for film and digital media, with frequent postings of camera set-ups and artistic portraits.
His wife frequently posed for his Instagram pictures, often in highly stylized, edgy photos.
One neighbor told ABC 7 News that she knew Mei Haskell, but her husband seemed strange.
‘The husband – something seemed so off,’ the woman said.
‘Something seemed so weird. I thought maybe he was sick, or something was wrong. All I said was, I kept saying to my family, something is wrong with him.’
On Tuesday evening, construction workers called the police after reporting seeing a dead body in a bag on the driveway.
By the time police arrived, the body had gone.
Detective Efren Gutierrez with LAPD told NBC4 on Wednesday night: ‘When the officers responded, nothing was located.
‘There was no evidence that allowed the officers to make entry into the home.
‘The bags that were described were no longer outside.’
At 6am on Wednesday, a homeless man digging through dumpsters in Encino, five miles from Haskell Jr.’s house, found the dismembered torso in a bag in a dumpster.
The bag in the dumpster was consistent with the description given by the construction workers, Gutierrez said.
Officers reviewed surveillance footage of a vehicle in the business plaza, which led them to Haskell Jr.
Police then went to the Haskell house and found blood stains and other evidence.
‘Here in the house, once officers made entry, what was discovered was evidence of a crime, including some blood evidence and other items that I’m not going to provide at this point,’ said Gutierrez.
Haskell Jr. was arrested on Wednesday morning, and charged later that day.
He remains at the Van Nuys jail on a $2 million bond, and is next in court on November 13.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s office says it is working with detectives to identify the female torso.