A group of day laborers say they were hired to help move trash bags containing body parts out of a Tarzana home at the center of a murder investigation.
In an exclusive interview with NBC4 Friday, the workers told a chilling story about being hired Tuesday afternoon by Samuel Haskell, the man jailed on suspicion of murder.
The workers said they were paid $500 to carry three large trash bags from inside the garage of Haskell’s home on Coldstream Terrace in Tarzana, about 25 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. He told the workers that the bags were full of stones. But once they got the bags back, they said they felt like there was meat inside.
“When we picked up the bags, we could see that they were not stones,” one of the workers said in Spanish. He did not want to be identified.
The men described the bags as soft and soggy, each weighing about 50 pounds.
They said something was wrong, so they stopped their truck a block away to look inside the bags.
“I started seeing body parts, a belly button,” the worker said. “I was blown away. Of course, I felt bad. We had been cheated.
They returned to Haskell’s home, left the bags in the driveway and returned the money.
The worker said they told Haskell they didn’t want to be involved, and Haskell tried to pass off the body parts as Halloween props.
The men said they immediately drove to the police, but were turned away from two police stations when they tried to report what they had seen. First, from the California Highway Patrol station on De Soto, where the men said they were directed to the Los Angeles Police Department. Then, from the LAPD Topanga station, they were told to leave and call 911 from the yard.
The men said they feared for their lives.
“God was watching over us,” the worker said.
Haskell, 35, was arrested Wednesday at a Topanga mall after a woman’s dismembered torso was found in what police said was one of those bags. NBC4 was first to report that he was discovered by someone rummaging through a trash can in an Encino parking lot.
Police then searched Haskell’s home. Law enforcement sources told the I-Team there was a lot of blood and evidence was found inside, suggesting a murder scene.
Haskell’s wife and parents are still missing. They were identified as:
- Mei Haskell
- Gaoshan Li, 72 years old. He was described as 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing approximately 140 pounds.
- YanXiang Wang, 64 years old. She was described as 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing approximately 135 pounds.
Police said three elementary-age children living in the Clearstream home were safe and in the custody of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
On Friday, LAPD robbery and homicide detectives were going through trash cans in alleys near where the remains were found. They were assisted by a cadaver-sniffing dog from the Los Angeles City Fire Department.
As of Friday, Sam Haskell had not been charged. He was due to make his first court appearance on Monday.
Gustavo Barrios contributed to this report.