35-year-old son of former celebrity agent identified as suspect linked to Encino torso discovery

Samuel Haskell, 35, was arrested after a woman's torso was found near a dumpster in Encino. Police say it may be his wife.

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Thursday, November 9, 2023
Son of ex-celebrity agent ID'd as suspect in Encino torso discovery
Samuel Haskell, 35, was arrested after a woman's torso was found near a dumpster in Encino. Though investigators have not identified the person, they say it may be his wife who's currently missing.

ENCINO, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The son of a prominent Hollywood executive has been arrested after the dismembered torso of a woman was found in a plastic bag near a dumpster in Encino, and while investigators have not identified the person, they say it may be his wife who is currently missing.

Samuel Haskell of Los Angeles, 35, was taken into custody Wednesday and has since been charged with murder. He's being held in the Van Nuys Jail on $2 million bail.

Find our latest updates on the search for Mei Haskell, Yanxiang Wang and Gaoshen Li here | Missing woman's neighbor says police told her that body parts were found at Tarzana home

Eyewitness News has learned he's the son of Sam Haskell Sr., who resigned as CEO of the Miss America organization after a 2017 email scandal. He's was once a celebrity agent and also founded Magnolia Hill Productions, which has produced various Dolly Parton specials.

Police say Samuel Haskell's wife, Mei Haskell, and her parents, Yanxiang Wang and Gaoshen Li, are currently missing. They all lived together at a home in the 4100 block of Coldstream Terrace in Tarzana with Haskell, police said.

Police say Mei Haskell (left), and her parents, Yanxiang Wang (middle) and Gaoshen Li (right), are currently missing.
Los Angeles Police Department

"The reason we're concerned with their whereabouts is they would normally be home during these hours," said Det. Efren Gutierrez with the Los Angeles Police Department during an evening news conference on Wednesday.

"Attempts have been made to contact them by cell phone ... no answers. Same with Mei, she is unaccounted for ... attempts have been made to call her phone [and] still no answer."

Detectives are also looking for two missing vehicles - a white Volkswagen Tiguan with license plate number 9ANC890 and a white 2014 Nissan Pathfinder with license plate number 7FRM190.

Samuel and Mei Haskell share three young boys, who have since been placed in the care of the county Department of Children and Family Services.

The investigation into Samuel Haskell began Wednesday morning after a homeless man discovered the torso while digging for recyclables at a strip mall near Ventura Boulevard and Rubio Avenue. Gutierrez said the torso was wrapped in a plastic bag and was placed just outside the dumpster.

A Tarzana man has been arrested in connection with a woman's dismembered torso that was found near a dumpster in Encino.

Officers reviewed surveillance footage of a vehicle in the business plaza and said they developed evidence that led them to the suspect.

Samuel was ultimately found at the Westfield Topanga mall in Canoga Park and arrested around 11:30 a.m.

"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," said Gutierrez.

The night before the torso was discovered, someone reported to police seeing a body in a black bag near the Tarzana home, but officers who responded at that time weren't able to substantiate the report, police say.

One woman who spoke with ABC7 Thursday morning but did not want to be identified said she had a friendship with Mei and even invited the couple to a house party.

"They came there ... very nice, beautiful, but the husband ... I was shocked. Something seemed so off. Something seemed so weird. I kept saying to my family, 'Something is wrong with her husband.'"

Neighbor Sally Raber told ABC7 she rarely saw the family but said she spotted Samuel on the day police were initially called to the home.

"I don't see them much ... I was driving on Tuesday, I was driving home and I saw him walking on the street. He was wearing all black," she recalled.

It's unclear exactly how long the remains may have been near the bin or how long ago the victim may have died, but investigators said it may have been just a couple of days.

Investigators will now have to rely on DNA evidence to formally identify the person.

Anyone with information is urged to contact LAPD's Robbery-Homicide Division at 213-486-6890.