Police raided the home of a prominent ex-Hollywood agent’s son after the grim discovery of a dismembered woman’s torso, as they probe the murder of his wife. Samuel Haskell Jr., 35, was arrested on Wednesday at a Topanga mall and is facing murder charges. His wife, Mei Haskell, 37, is missing, and investigators are trying to determine if the discovered torso belongs to her.
The parents of Mei Haskell, who lived with the couple and their three children in Tarzana, are also reportedly missing. Authorities are currently searching for Mei’s father, Gaoshan Li, 72, and mother, YanXiang Wang, 64, along with their missing SUV, a white VW Tiguan, police said.
The three children, aged 6, 8, and 12 – identified as Samuel Bond Haskell V, James Donnelly Haskell, and William Kirkpatrick Haskell II – were located safely at school and are currently under the care of family members.
The evening before the discovery of the torso, construction workers informed the police that they saw what appeared to be a body in black bags near Haskell’s home. However, upon the arrival of the officers, the bags were gone.
“There was no evidence that allowed the officers to make entry into the home,” LAPD Detective Efren Gutierrez told NBC4 about the initial call.
Despite the initial disappearance of the bags reported by the construction workers, the bag containing the torso matched the workers’ description. This led the police to establish a second crime scene at Haskell’s home, where investigators discovered “blood 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,” Gutierrez told ABC 7.
Investigators were seen combing through the home for several hours on Wednesday evening. They went through items in the suspect’s garage and placed evidence markers during the process.
Haskell along with her parents, Yanxiang Wang and Gaoshan Li had already been reported missing before the discovery of the dismembered torso.
As of Friday, they still remain missing.
Authorities are currently in the process of identifying the torso, and while it has not been confirmed, they believe it may be that of Haskell’s wife.
“If a murder suspect is dismembering a body, it’s to delay identification,” Guttierez said.
Mystery Shrouds Deaths
Investigators plan to use DNA evidence for the identification of the victim. The arrest of Haskell Jr. has left the Tarzana neighborhood in shock, where the family lived in a six-bedroom house valued at $2.5 million.
Haskell Jr.’s father, Samuel Haskell Sr., was a prominent agent affiliated with William Morris, representing notable clients such as Dolly Parton, George Clooney, Whoopi Goldberg, and Prince Edward, the brother of King Charles.
Samuel Haskell Sr. retired from William Morris in 2005. In 2009, he published a memoir titled ‘Promises I Made My Mother.’ Described by publishers as a “deeply personal and spiritually-enriching story about living a principled life in unprincipled times.”
In 2012, the multiple Emmy-winner Samuel Haskell Sr. co-founded Magnolia Hill Productions with Dolly Parton, producing many of her television specials.
However, his tenure as the CEO of the Miss America organization from 2015 to 2017 ended in resignation after private emails surfaced where he had criticized some contestants, ridiculing one for gaining weight and describing another as promiscuous.
Samuel Haskell Sr. is married to Mary Donnelly Haskell, a former Miss Mississippi and his college sweetheart. The couple has a daughter, Mary Lane, and a son, Sam IV.
In his company biography, Haskell Sr. is described as “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.”
The recent arrest of Samuel Haskell Jr. is not his first run-in with the law.
Records obtained by the LA Times indicate that in December 2008, he was arrested and charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
Haskell entered a plea of no contest to battery charges and was placed on three years’ probation in 2010, as reported by the outlet.
A neighbor, choosing to remain unidentified, told ABC 7 that she had a friendship with Mei but always sensed that “something seemed so off” about Haskell before his wife’s disappearance.
“Something seemed so weird. I kept saying to my family, ‘Something is wrong with her husband,'” the neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, told the outlet.
Haskell is currently detained on $2 million bail at the Valley Jail in Van Nuys in connection with the discovery of the torso.