Samuel Haskell, the son of veteran Hollywood powerhouse agent Sam Haskell III, has been arrested and charged with three counts of murder after the torso of an unidentified person — believed to be his missing wife — was wrapped in a plastic bag inside a dumpster five miles from the home they shared in the Los Angeles suburb of Tarzana, California.
According to multiple reports citing the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s criminal complaint, prosecutors claim that on Nov. 6 Haskell murdered his wife, Mei Li Haskell, 37, and her parents — 71-year-old Gaoshan Li and 64-year-old Yanxiang Wan — all of whom lived with the Haskells and their three children. Authorities have not yet identified the torso but they believe it’s Mei Li’s, whose parents remain missing.
Prosecutors allege that after he murdered the three victims, Haskell, 35, hired four day laborers on Nov. 7 to remove three black trash bags from his home. The NBC affiliate in Los Angeles spoke to one of the day laborers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, and claimed Haskell paid them $500 to dispose the trash bags Haskell said were filled with rocks.
One of the day laborers told the news station that they could tell there weren’t any rocks when they picked up the bags, which were described as soft and soggy, and each weighing approximately 50 pounds.
According to NBC4, the day laborers said something didn’t seem right, so after leaving Haskell’s home, they pulled over to look inside the trash bags and they were “astonished” to have found “body parts” and a “belly button.” The day laborers told the news station that they then drove back to Haskell’s home to return the bags and the money.
After the day laborers said they felt duped and did not want to be involved, they claim Haskell told them the body parts were just Halloween props. The day laborers told NBC4 they then went to a nearby California Highway Patrol station to report what they witnessed, but were told to call the Los Angeles Police Department. But when they went to the LAPD’s Topanga Station, the day laborers said officers told them to call 911.
Later that day, prosecutors say Haskell “was allegedly observed and photographed a short distance from his home disposing a large trash bag into a dumpster in the 16000 block of Ventura Boulevard.” An LAPD spokesperson said at a news conference that police were ultimately dispatched to Haskell’s home after receiving calls about bloody trash bags. But the spokesperson said that when officers arrived at the home, “nothing was located” and there was no probable cause to enter the home.
The following morning on Nov. 8, at approximately 6 a.m., cops were called after a man sifting through dumpsters made the gruesome discovery of a dismembered torso stuffed in a plastic bag in a dumpster just five miles from Haskell’s residence. The LAPD spokesperson said the investigation led them back to Haskell’s home that day, where officers made entry into the home and “discovered evidence of a crime, including some blood evidence.”
Officers ultimately tracked down Haskell at the Westfield Topanga mall in Canoga Park and arrested him on Nov. 8 at around 11:30 a.m. Authorities say the Haskells’ three children — all boys — are being cared for by family members.
Who Is Sam Haskell III?
The murder suspect’s father is an Emmy-winning producer and a former executive vice president and worldwide head of television for the powerhouse Hollywood agency William Morris Endeavor. In his heyday, Haskell III’s client roster included George Clooney, Ray Romano, Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, Lucie Arnaz, Debbie Allen, Kathie Lee Gifford, Whoopi Goldberg and many more. He spent 27 years at the agency.
Now the president of his own production company, Magnolia Hill Productions, Haskell III is touted in his bio as “one of the 25 most innovative and influential people in television of the last 25 years” by Television Week Magazine. He shared that honor with Ted Turner, Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey, Walter Cronkite and others.
According to his bio, Haskell III is married to his college sweetheart, Mary Donnelly Haskell, a former Miss Mississippi. The bio states they share two children — Samuel Haskell IV (the suspected murderer) and Mary Lane, who is an actress (Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit).
Haskell III was also the longtime head of the Miss America Organization before he and two other executives resigned in December 2017 after emails published by HuffPost revealed he made misogynistic comments about former pageant winners.
Following his arrest, Haskell was held on $2 million bail. He appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court on Nov. 13 for a bond hearing that lasted only five minutes, where the judge ordered him to be held without bail.
According to the Daily Mail, the judge allowed a photographer in court but banned taking pictures of Haskell’s face. The outlet reported that Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman argued that Haskell’s face has been shown numerous times in news articles and throughout social media, but the judge would not relent on the ruling.
Haskell’s arraignment has been pushed to Dec. 8. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.
LAPD Asks for Help
Authorities continue searching for Mei Li’s parents as well as two missing vehicles — a white Volkswagen Tiguan, license plate 9ANC890, and a white 2014 Nissan Pathfinder, license plate 7FRM190.
Anyone with additional information is urged to contact the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division.
LAPD Launches Internal Investigation
According to the Los Angeles Times, LAPD Chief Michel Moore confirmed on Nov. 14 that the department is investigating whether officers from the Topanga Station turned away the men who tried to report they were hired to dispose of bags filled with human remains. The day laborers had previously said cops told them to call 911 instead.
“My concern is that very act right there, of having them go outside and call 911 versus summoning a unit via other available channels and ensuring that people remain there with their cooperation,” Moore told the outlet.