LocalL.A. Now

Saw likely used on victim in Griffith Park body parts case

Crime, Law and JusticeLaw EnforcementHomicideCrimeJustice SystemLos Angeles Police Department

The man whose head, hands and feet were found scattered below the Hollywood sign in 2012 was probably cut apart with a saw, according to an autopsy report.

Coroner's officials also wrestled with a prosecutor's question of whether Hervey Medellin's remains were frozen before they were dumped in Griffith Park, given the lack of decomposition and time that had elapsed from when authorities believe he was killed.

But ultimately a forensic anthropologist consulting on the case wrote that the theory could not be "supported or refuted" with the limited photographic evidence available. 

HOMICIDE REPORT: A story for every victim

More than two years after the grisly discovery along a Bronson Canyon trail, Los Angeles police this week announced an arrest in the slaying of 66-year-old Medellin: his boyfriend, who had long been a person of interest in the case.

Gabriel Campos-Martinez, a 38-year-old former chef, was charged Monday with one count of murder in Medellin's death. Campos-Martinez, who was arrested Sunday night in San Antonio, remained in Texas in lieu of $1-million bail pending extradition proceedings.

Though the Los Angeles County coroner's examination noted Medellin probably died of asphyxia and neck compression, officials said it was unclear what other injuries the 66-year-old sustained because only his head, hands and feet were found.

Investigators have not been able to determine where Medellin was killed or where the remainder of his body is, officials said.

The autopsy report said cuts on Medellin's remains indicted a knife or sharp-bladed tool was probably used, but that other marks indicated the recovered body parts were probably severed with a saw. A "small, metallic-looking fragment" was pulled from one of the saw marks, the report said.

The consultant wrote that there were "little signs of decomposition" on the hands and feet, and a "lack of ... marked odor of decomposition." It appeared that Medellin had been dead for "several hours to a maximum of 72 hours" before the remains were found, the report said.

But investigators believe Medellin was killed Dec. 27, 2011 -- three weeks before the Jan. 17 discovery, Deputy Dist. Atty. Bobby Grace said.

The coroner's report noted prosecutors had "specifically requested information on the possibility the remains were frozen postmortem and then deposited in the outside environment in which they were found."

"Such a conclusion cannot be supported or refuted by the limited evidence available from the photographs," the report said.

Grace, who flew to Texas with detectives to make the arrest, said the motive was "due to the relationship" between the men. Campos-Martinez may have learned Medellin was about to break off the relationship, Grace said.

"Somehow, either directly or indirectly, he may have gotten the hint he wasn't going to be around and that triggered him to do this," Grace said.

Medellin wasn't reported missing until Jan. 16, when detectives at the Los Angeles Police Department's Hollywood station received an anonymous tip that Medellin hadn't returned from a trip to Mexico, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in connection with the case.

A detective went to the apartment Medellin shared with Campos-Martinez, and asked him to file a missing persons report at the LAPD's Hollywood division, court records said. Campos-Martinez returned to the station later in the day "crying uncontrollably" and asked to see a copy of the report.

A dog walking with two women found Medellin's head the next day. His right hand and two feet were found a day later in a 6-inch grave, court records said. The second hand was found hours later. 

There was "no evidence" that Medellin had ever gone to Mexico, Grace said. The prosecutor said Campos-Martinez made other statements to investigators "not matching the facts" of the case.

The affidavit also said Campos-Martinez made "inconsistent and suspicious statements" to police two days after Medellin's head was found. A polygraph test revealed he was "deceitful of dismembering the victim's body and having knowledge of the victim's murder," the court records say.

Grace said Campos-Martinez moved to San Antonio, where his extended family lives, about a year after Medellin's death. He married a woman there, the prosecutor said, and worked concessions at the San Antonio Convention Center.

"He built a new life for himself," Grace said.

If convicted, Campos-Martinez faces 25 years to life in state prison.

ALSO:

LAPD in mourning after 3 officers killed in 2 months

Donald Sterling will fight to keep Clippers, Garcetti predicts

Red Cross assisting homeless residents displaced after shelter fire

kate.mather@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Comments
Loading