A neighbor of murder suspect Sam Haskell Jr. has claimed that police said they found body parts in the Hollywood director’s home following the discovery of a female torso nearby.
Haskell Jr., 35, was arrested Wednesday at a mall in Topanga, California, on suspicion of murder after the gruesome discovery. His wife Mei Haskell, 37, and her parents are still missing. Detectives are trying to identify the torso, but believe it belongs to Mei.
Neighbor Elle Benami told ABC7 she was friends with Mei, and their children often played together and bonded during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“Myself and another person who is actually a friend of Mei were the first people they told that they had found parts of a body in the house,” Benami claimed.
Los Angeles police have said only that they found blood and other evidence consistent with “murder and mayhem.”
Benami said Mei is a “very sweet, generous person, very sociable. She loved to throw parties; I’d say it was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to.’
Neighbors of Sam Haskell Jr., 35, claim he “seemed strange” when they responded to his arrest after a woman’s torso was found in a dumpster near his California home.
Neighbor Elle Benami said she was friends with Mei, and their children often played together and bonded during the COVID-19 lockdown
Mei Haskell (left), her mother YanXiang Wang, 64, and her father Gaoshan Li, 72, are all missing
She added that Haskell Jr. came in and was smiling and ‘quite friendly but not outgoing’, ‘sat in a corner and left after 20 minutes.
Haskell Jr.’s arrest — the son of a former Hollywood agent and former Miss Mississippi — has turned their Tarzana neighborhood upside down, where the family lived in a $2.5 million, six-bedroom home.
More like another neighbor told ABC 7 News that she knew Mei Haskell, but her husband seemed strange.
“The man, something seemed so strange,” the woman said. ‘Something seemed so strange. I thought maybe he was sick, or something was wrong. All I said was, I kept telling my family, there’s something wrong with him.’
The couple’s three children, ages 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.
Haskell Jr worked as a videographer and producer in Los Angeles, according to his IMDB page and social media accounts
Haskell Jr. can be seen in 2013
Police, along with Mei’s parents, search the $2.5 million, six-bedroom home where the Haskells lived
Mei’s parents Gaoshan Li, 72, and YanXiang Wang, 64, who lived with the couple and their three children in Tarzana. Police are now looking for them and their missing SUV: a white VW Tiguan. A white 2014 Nissan Pathfinder is also missing.
Haskell Jr worked as a videographer, director and producer in Los Angeles, according to his IMDB page and social media accounts. According to his Twitter account, he has worked as an editor for stars such as rappers Tyga and Machine Gun Kelly.
He also went by the name Samuel Bassinger and directed photo shoots with actresses Olivia Holt and Brenda Song.
On his website he wrote: ‘I want to create visuals that push boundaries by bringing millennial artists together.’
On Tuesday evening, construction workers called police after seeing a body in black bags near Henkell’s home, but by the time police arrived the body was gone.
LAPD Detective Efren Gutierrez told NBC4t: ‘When the officers responded, nothing was found… There was no evidence that allowed the officers to enter the home… The bags described were no longer outside.’
However, a homeless man then came across the human torso in a dumpster in Encino, about five miles from Henkell’s home. The contents of the torso matched the description given by the construction workers.
Media were seen camping outside the Tarzana residence after news broke of the arrest of the former Hollywood agent’s son
Haskell Sr. is seen with Dolly Parton, whom he represented for many years
Henkell Jr. was arrested Wednesday after witness statements from the construction workers and video evidence from the scene of the torso discovery led police to his home.
According to police, police discovered traces of blood from a crime in the home.
“Here at the house, when the officers entered, it was discovered that a crime had occurred, including some blood evidence and other items that I’m not going to provide at this time,” Gutierrez said.
Haskell Jr.’s father, Samuel Haskell Sr., was a high-profile agent at William Morris, whose clients included Dolly Parton, George Clooney, Whoopi Goldberg and King Charles’ brother, Prince Edward.
He retired from William Morris in 2005 and published a memoir in 2009 titled “Promises I Made My Mother,” which his publishers described as a “deeply personal and spiritually enriching story about living a principled life in unscrupulous 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 to 2017, but resigned after it emerged he had criticized some contestants in private emails, ridiculing one for gaining weight and describing the other as promiscuous.
He was also chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Awards, and public records show that Haskell Jr. was once employed by the foundation.
Haskell Sr. is pictured with Vanessa Williams, who was Miss America 1984 and became head judge in 2016
Haskell Sr. is seen with Miss America contestants in 2017
Haskell Sr. is married to Mary Donnelly Haskell, his college sweetheart
Prince Edward, brother of King Charles, is pictured with Haskell Sr. – his agent at the time – and actor Martin Short
Haskell Sr. is married to a former Miss Mississippi, Mary Donnelly Haskell, his college sweetheart, and the couple has a daughter, Mary Lane, and their son Sam IV.
In his business biographyHaskell Sr. says. that he is “widely known as ‘the nice guy in Hollywood.'”
He continued, “Haskell is revered for rising to the top of a turbulent and often unscrupulous company with his character, integrity and value system intact.
“His reputation for honesty, integrity, loyalty and honesty made him a steady force in a sea of inconsistency and someone with whom actors, writers, directors and other industry professionals were eager to work.”
From Haskell Jr.’s social media shows that he has a penchant for film and digital media, with frequent posts about camera setups and artistic portraits.
His wife regularly posed for his Instagram photos, often in highly stylized, sharp shots.
Haskell Jr. remains in the Van Nuys jail on a $2 million bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 13.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s office says it is working with detectives to identify the female torso.
Haskell Jr. posted this photo of his wife Mei in January 2014
The torso was found early Wednesday morning in Encino, California after a call to police about human remains in a black plastic bag
The bag was found in a duffel bag and thrown into a dumpster (photo) behind Ventura Boulevard and Rubio Avenue, near a family restaurant, hair salon and two banks.
Haskell Jr.’s wife, Mei Haskell (pictured), and her parents Yanxiang Wang and Gaoshen Li are missing, police said. All three lived with the suspect in Tarzana’s house