LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Detectives investigating a decapitated human head found in the hills below the famed Hollywood sign discovered severed hands and feet they believe are from the same body on Wednesday, a Los Angeles police spokesman said.
The body parts were uncovered during search of the 4,200-acre Griffith Park, where two female hikers came across the head in a plastic bag on Tuesday, Los Angeles Police Commander Andrew Smith said.
Authorities said they were confident the head, hands and feet were all removed from the same body, but have declined to speculate as to how that was done.
The hands were found separately but in the same general area as the head, one by a cadaver dog and the other several hours later by a crime scene investigator who “thought something looked suspicious” in the brush, Smith said.
A Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office investigator came across the feet, he said, which were together and in the same vicinity, a half mile below the Hollywood sign near hiking trails and not far from Griffith Observatory.
Smith said all of the body parts would be turned over to the coroner’s office to determine how they were removed and if they held clues to the victim’s identity.
Coroner’s spokesman Ed Winter said that investigators there would try to take fingerprints from the hands to identify the man, who has been described as between the ages of 40 and 60.
Authorities who initially said that the man could be Caucasian or Armenian later said that coroner’s investigators had listed the victim’s ethnicity as “undetermined.”
The search was suspended as darkness fell on Wednesday night but was scheduled to resume early on Thursday, when about 30 members of the current police academy class would be drafted to take part.
“We are going to be extremely thorough and methodical in our search,” Smith said.
In the meantime, he said, detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department’s robbery homicide division would meet to plan their investigation, hoping to gain clues if coroner’s investigators can identify the victim.
“Then we can find out where they live, who their friends were,” Smith said.
Authorities have said the head has not likely been at the site for a long time because 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.
Griffith Park, which sits in the hills above metropolitan Los Angeles, is the largest municipal park with urban wilderness area in the United States, according to a city website.
Additional reporting by Mary Slosson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Dan Burns