Victim identified in Hollywood severed head case

LOS ANGELES Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:30am IST

A LAPD mounted police officer searches a hilly area below the iconic Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, California January 18, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn

A LAPD mounted police officer searches a hilly area below the iconic Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, California January 18, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A man whose severed head, hands and feet were found in the hills below the famed Hollywood sign overlooking Los Angeles was identified by the coroner's office on Friday as 66-year-old Hervey Coronado Medellin.

A mother and daughter who were walking dogs in a popular hiking area stumbled upon the Los Angeles resident's severed head earlier this week, and a search nearby later turned up hands and feet.

Investigators have so far been unable to say how Medellin died or came to be dismembered, nor have they given details about his life.

Homicide detectives were still questioning witnesses and potential suspects in the bizarre case, Los Angeles Police Department Lieutenant Andrew Neiman said. But little further information was being released because police have placed a security hold on the case, according to the coroner's office.

Police said detectives had canvassed the area near the 4,200-acre Griffith Park in the heart of Los Angeles looking for clues or witnesses before the section of the park where the body parts were found reopened to the public on Friday.

Commander Andrew Smith said he believed a bodyguard for actor Brad Pitt was among those witnesses interviewed but said the man was not considered a suspect.

The sensational case began on Tuesday when a mother and daughter walking dogs came across the head in a plastic bag and reported it to park rangers. The hands were found the following day in the same general area, one by a cadaver-sniffing dog and the other by a crime scene investigator.

Later on Wednesday, a coroner investigator discovered the feet, together, in the same area. Neiman said investigators theorize that the head, hands and feet were hidden together in the park and later scattered by animals.

Police have found no link between the Hollywood Hills case and a torso found in Arizona missing a head, hands and feet, and said there was no evidence the man was a victim of organized crime or a serial killer.

The iconic Hollywood sign on Mount Lee above Los Angeles was built in the 1920s to promote a housing development and originally read "Hollywoodland."

The last few letters deteriorated in the 1940s and the part that remained was restored in 1978.

(Additional reporting by Mary Slosson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Todd Eastham)

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