$50,000 reward may be offered in decapitation killing of Inglewood man

Mourners hold electric candles at a vigil Monday for Robert Hollis, who was found dead last week in his Inglewood apartment.

Mourners hold electric candles at a vigil Monday for Robert Hollis, who was found dead last week in his Inglewood apartment.

(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts says he’s never believed in using monetary rewards to help solve crimes.

That changed with the killing of Robert Hollis. Hollis, a 75-year-old blind man known as “Mr. Bojangles,” was found decapitated Thursday afternoon in his Inglewood apartment.

Butts, who served as police chief for two departments, told The Times he had never put forth a motion for a reward. Now he plans to ask for $50,000 at next week’s city council meeting to help find the killer or killers of Hollis.

The reward, one of the largest for the city, is intended to make a statement, he said. Butts first announced that he would ask for reward money Monday during a vigil held for Hollis at Faithful Central Bible Church.


“This is intolerable,” he told The Times. “It’s heinous and it’s intolerable.”

On Wednesday, Hollis’ family gathered outside the church where the vigil was held and pleaded for help in solving the case. Norma Hollis said that her ex-husband’s head had not been found.

In recent years, Hollis, a sign maker and singer, had lost his sight. Recently, he had been taking Braille classes and “getting out” more, Norma Hollis said. He had just finished his first book in Braille. Though the two were divorced, they remained close, and she called him her “soul mate.”

“He was getting active again,” she said.

Robert Hollis’ recorded voice rang through the church at Monday’s vigil as mourners stood and swayed from side to side along with the music.

A video projected on large screens showed Hollis over the years. Hollis, who was left-handed, was known for pinstriping and personalizing cars. A photo showed him working on a red truck with gold trim.

“You wanted to have a car painted by Mr. Bojangles,” said Bishop L.J. Guillory.

County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, several other pastors and Inglewood city staff were among those gathered. Ridley-Thomas said that the killing “should not go unnoticed.”

“The fact that we are here suggests that he was part of a community,” he said.

At the end of the vigil, people held electric candles. One by one, they switched their candles on as the lights were turned off.

“You bring the sunshine that brightens up my day … I want to spend my tomorrows with you…” sang Robert Hollis.

On Wednesday, Norma Hollis urged the public not to live in fear.

“Even though this happened, it should not immobilize us,” she said. “We have to let our voices be heard. Make your life matter. Make your voice matter.”

“If anybody knows anything, speak up. It’s bigger than just Robert,” she said.

Anyone with information can call the Inglewood Police Department at (310) 412-5246. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call (888) 412-7463.

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