Every day, 75-year-old Robert Hollis walked the courtyard of the Villa Glen apartment complex in Inglewood, using a decorative wooden cane to navigate the path he could not see before him.
Though legally blind, he lived alone, shopped for his own groceries and sang in a church choir. On Wednesday, Hollis asked a neighbor for a ride to Smart & Final. He never showed up at the parking lot where they had agreed to meet.
Hollis’ son found his decapitated body inside his apartment Thursday afternoon after the neighbor called out of concern, said Rene Jones, the assistant property manager. Hollis’ head is still missing, his cousin Tony Love told reporters Friday.
The gruesome discovery stunned the working-class residents of the 44-unit apartment complex. They wondered who would want to harm the elderly man they affectionately called Mr. Bo.
Love said jewelry, money and other personal items were left untouched, leaving family members to wonder whether Hollis knew his killer. The building’s front door remains locked and the buzzer is broken. Visitors have to call residents to gain access.
“He wouldn’t answer the door unless he knew you,” Love said. “He won’t hurt a fly. No enemies. I guess he had one.”
The Inglewood Police Department is investigating the slaying and has not yet released any details about the crime or a potential suspect. The Los Angeles County coroner would not confirm a cause of death.
Neighbor Doris Smith, 45, said Hollis was known for his artwork, particularly for painting flashy pinstripes on the exterior of cars. On Facebook, Hollis advertised his signage business, Mr. Bo Jangles Custom Signs in Carson.
“He was a real astute man,” Smith said. “A true artist known for his gold leafy designs on lowriders.”
Smith, who lived one apartment down from Hollis, said she could not sleep last night knowing that her neighbor had been killed. She cleaned her apartment and eyed the backgammon set she bought from Hollis for $3 at a yard sale this month.
Hollis also dabbled in music. He gave Kevin Deane, another resident who lived on the floor above him, a melodica, an instrument that’s a cross between a keyboard and an accordion. They would often chat about the music industry and the craft of making music. Deane, who worked from home, wondered how someone could commit such a horrific crime.
“What do you need with the man’s head?” he asked. “This is like a bad horror movie.”