Severed hand found near decapitated head in Hollywood

LOS ANGELES Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:33pm EST

1 of 3. Los Angeles police officers and Los Angeles County Coroners investigate at the crime scene in Bronson Canyon, where dog walkers discovered an unidentified man's head on Tuesday in Los Angeles, California, January 18, 2012. Two unidentified witnesses found the head in the Hollywood Hills near the Griffith Observatory, a popular hiking area.

Credit: Reuters/Al Seib/Pool

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Detectives investigating a decapitated human head found by hikers in the hills below the iconic Hollywood sign have discovered a severed hand in the same general area, Los Angeles police said on Wednesday.

The hand was uncovered during an exhaustive search of a seven-acre expanse of Griffith Park, where two female hikers who were walking dogs came across the head in a bag on Tuesday, Los Angeles Police Commander Andrew Smith said.

"We found a severed hand in proximity to the head," Smith said, adding the find came during a search conducted with the help of a cadaver dog supplied by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.

The hand was discovered about 50 yards from the head in a popular recreation and tourist area not far from Griffith Observatory, Smith added. The search was continuing in the park in the heart of metropolitan Los Angeles that is home to a 53-mile network of trails, equestrian paths and fire roads.

"It's very early yet," Smith said. "We took a photo of the hand and we're going to transport it to the coroner's office for examination."

Police said the head, which Smith said appeared to belong to a man between the ages of 40 and 60, was discovered when two dogs the hikers were walking began playing with it. The women, realizing what it was, called park rangers.

Smith said the head appeared to belong to a person who was "possibly Caucasian, possibly Armenian."

Authorities believe the head had not been at the site for a long time, based in part on the fact that there were no animal bites on it.

The iconic Hollywood sign on Mount Lee above Los Angeles originally read "Hollywoodland" and was created to promote a housing development in 1923. The last few letters deteriorated in the late 1940s and the part that remained was restored in 1978.

(Additional reporting by Mary Slosson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)