LOS ANGELES (AP) — An investigation unfolding near the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles is playing out like a gory movie script, as police worked to identity a man whose body was found in parts over the past two days — first a head on Tuesday, then two hands and two feet on Wednesday.
On Thursday, some 100 police officers and Police Academy recruits searched seven acres of brush in the Bronson Canyon wilderness park in Hollywood to see if they could find more body parts. Officers, some on horseback, pushed through waist- and shoulder-high scrub surrounding a semi-paved hiking trail.
It would have been a perfect place to hide a body had it not been for a single curious dog, police said.
Like a scene from a David Lynch movie, a pooch being walked off-leash on the trail Tuesday afternoon tugged a plastic grocery bag from the brush about 100 yards from the park entrance gates and began playing with it.
"It shakes the bag, and out pops the head," officer Bruce Borihanh said.
A police search the next day uncovered two hands and two feet, all apparently from the same victim.
Investigators checked fingerprints, dental records and missing persons records in an effort to identify the victim, a graying man believed to be 45 to 60 years old.
Police also checked with their counterparts in Tucson, Ariz., where a torso was found a few days ago but it's not believed to be from the same person, Los Angeles police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.
Whoever dumped the dismembered body parts in Bronson Canyon apparently intended to hide them, he said.
"If they wanted them to be found, they could have left them at the gate," Smith said.
Some parts may have been scattered or eaten by wildlife, police said.
Police did not have a motive for the killing, but there was no evidence that a serial killer was at work, Smith said.
Local residents walking their dogs near the closed park had their own views.
A gang killing or a drug deal that went bad was Mark Hart's suspicion as he walked his two pit bull mixes.
"It sounds like they kind of botched it" because the body was discovered, he added. "They probably thought if they left it there, the coyotes would get it."
The discovery was disconcerting so near a safe and quiet neighborhood, said Renee Dake Wilson, walking her boxer-pit bull mix, Sweet Pea.
"I'm a little worried. It's a concern to have such an event happen in your neighborhood," she said. "But I do think it's an isolated event."