Hollywood agent’s son Samuel Haskell IV appeared in court in a suicide vest Monday to face charges that he killed his wife and parents-in-law.
Judge Kimberley Baker Guillemet ordered Haskell held without bond at the hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday
His arraignment was pushed back to December 8. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
Haskell lived with his wife Mei, 37, their three sons and her parents YanXiang Wang, 64, and Gaoshan Li, 72, in Tarzana, California, 25 miles north of LA.
In the brief hearing, no mention was made of whether the bodies of the three alleged victims have been found.
Samuel Haskell IV, appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court before Judge Kimberley Baker Guillemet on a murder charges and dumping his wife’s body in a trash can on November 13, in Los Angeles Superior Court
Samuel Haskell IV, 35, was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of murder after a dismembered female torso was found near his California home
The judge allowed a photographer in court – but then ruled pictures could not show Haskell’s face.
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman argued that it had already been shown in news articles and social media but Judge Guillemet stuck to her decision.
‘These shocking and gruesome crimes have sent shockwaves through our community. We stand with the victims’ loved ones during this unimaginably difficult time and will do everything in our power to ensure justice is served,’ District Attorney George Gascón said in a on Monday while announcing the charges.
Haskell was arrested after a woman’s dismembered torso was discovered last week in a dumpster in Encino. The body has not been positively identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.
He is currently being held on $2million bail after being arrested on suspicion of murder when a headless torso was found in a dumpster near his home.
Prosecutors allege that on the day following the murders, Haskell hired four day laborers to remove black trash bags from his LA-area home.
One worker said he was paid $500 to remove three large trash bags. Haskell claimed they were filled with rocks before later pretending the body parts were ‘Halloween props’.
‘When we picked up the bags, we could tell they weren’t rocks,’ the worker told NBC LA, noting that the bags were soft and soggy.
Upon peering inside they saw ‘body parts, a belly button.’
‘I was astonished. Of course, I felt bad. We had been tricked,’ he said.
The men then returned the bags and then money to Haskell’s home telling him they did not ‘want to be involved.’
The workers went straight to law enforcement and informed the California Highway Patrol and the police.
Prosecutors allege that later that day, Haskell ‘was allegedly observed and photographed a short distance from his home disposing [of] a large trash bag into a dumpster in the 16000 block of Ventura Boulevard.’
If convicted, Haskell faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Haskell, 35, whose father Samuel Haskell III, was the executive vice-president and worldwide head of television for the talent agency William Morris Endeavor.
His clients included Dolly Parton, George Clooney, Kathie Lee Gifford, Whoopi Goldberg and King Charles’ brother, Prince Edward.
Haskell is alleged to have killed his wife and parents-in-law on November 6, according to the criminal complaint.
Friends of Mei Haskkell arrive for court for the arraignment of Samuel Haskell on murder charges
Haskell’s tattooed arms werer visible as he was barechested under the blue suicide vest
The details of the charges were laid out in charging document on Monday
Friends of Mei Haskell, some in tears, gathered outside the court with banners calling for justice for the mother-of-three.
They tried to get a glimpse of her alleged killer but he was slumped low behind a glass partition in the courtroom. His tattooed arms were visible while barechested under the blue suicide vest.
‘We are absolutely devastated. Mei was such a bright light and loved her kids so much. She wanted to create a wonderful world for them and she did,’ said one friend of the family while asking to remain anonymous. ‘She was an important part of our community.’
‘Mei is just an incredible person. We are here to make sure our friend gets the justice she deserves.’
Los Angeles Detective Efren Gutierrez explained at a press conference how officers were sent to Haskell’s home last Tuesday night after receiving reports about the bloody trash bags.
“Nothing was located’ by officers and they did not find any evidence that would warranted entry into the home.
The following morning, a person looking through dumpsters about five miles from Haskell’s home found a bag with a woman’s torso.
It was then police went back to Haskell’s home, where they found blood and other evidence, reports KABC.
Earlier on Monday, it was reported how Haskell had an unusual preoccupation with weapons and kept a large collection inside the single family home he shared with his missing wife, in-laws and three young children.
‘He had an obsession with weapons,’ neighbor Elle Benami told DailyMail.com. ‘He had a samurai sword and a crossbow. He did martial arts. I think he was a black belt and he would go to Japan to do martial arts.’
Benami said Haskell had guns in the house and explained that she wouldn’t allow her kids to go inside their home, despite her close friendship with his missing wife, Mei Li Haskell.
DailyMail.com can reveal that Haskell, the son of a Hollywood agent, had an ‘obsession with weapons’ and kept a collection in the family home
Haskell’s fascination with weapons was further revealed when DailyMail.com discovered music videos he had directed and posted on his Instagram page under the name TragicStreetz. One video showed a man wearing a red beret swinging a sword
The videos show men attacking each other with huge axes and swords. One video showed a man pointing a long sword at another man’s neck, with the hashtag #DemonHills
The Haskells moved into the quiet, family-oriented community of Tarzana, about 25 miles north of Los Angeles, in December 2020.
‘The kids could play here at my house or usually in the front lawn. I was ok with the kids playing in their front lawn,’ said Benami, who feared something could accidentally happen with so many weapons in the house.
Haskell’s sons even bragged to other neighborhood kids that they had weapons in the house, something their doting mother Mei was not fond of and could have very well been an ongoing source of contention between the couple.
‘Would I say that they seemed like a happy couple? No, but I definitely didn’t expect anything like this. I never could have imagined what happened,’ said Benami.
‘He had an obsession with weapons,’ neighbor Elle Benami told DailyMail.com
Benami revealed that she and another friend of Mei’s, whose identity has been withheld, were questioned by detectives after Haskell was arrested on Wednesday morning and were told the disturbing news that body parts and blood had been discovered inside the house.
‘I was interviewed by several homicide detectives. They asked me questions about Mei, what I knew about her family, when was the last time I saw her, about the boys and the husband.
‘We were the first two people that they told that they did find parts of a body inside the house,’ said the mother-of-four. ‘When they broke that news to us, it was completely surreal.’
‘Our kids are similar ages so we spent a lot of time together, especially during Covid. We took daily walks and the kids always played together.’
‘You couldn’t ask for a better neighbor. Mei was an amazing mom, an amazing person and an amazing daughter to her parents,’ said Benami.
Haskell’s fascination with weapons was further revealed when DailyMail.com discovered music videos he had directed and posted on his Instagram page under the name TragicStreetz.
The videos show men attacking each other with huge axes and swords. One video showed a man pointing a long sword at another man’s neck, with the hashtag #DemonHills.
Another video showed a man holding a weapon with creepy music in the background, while a man wearing a red beret can be seen swinging his sword around.
A machine gun can be seen in yet another video glamorizing the weapon with hypnotic music playing in the background.
Mei Haskell (left), her mother YanXiang Wang, 64, and her father Gaoshan Li, 72, are all missing, with Haskell arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife Mei
A bag with a headless torso was found stuffed into a duffel bag and tossed into this dumpster behind Ventura Boulevard and Rubio Avenue, near a family-style restaurant, a hair salon and two banks
Despite spending much time together, Mei never expressed any concerns about her husband. Benami now believes Mei was trying to protect her by not getting her involved with their marital problems.
Benami said she never had a conversation with Haskell in all the years they lived right next door.
‘I was not close with him. It was like a hi, waving to each other. He didn’t make eye contact. He would take a lot of walks in the neighborhood usually on his own.
While many neighbors questioned Haskell’s odd behavior, Benami believes he could have Asperger’s Syndrome, which could explain his off-putting antics especially at the many parties his wife so meticulously put together.
‘One time she brought ponies to her front yard for her son’s birthday. She went all out with parties,’ said Benami. ‘He was kind of off to the side. Not really talking to anyone. Definitely saying hi and not ignoring anybody. He would typically disappear for a little while. He was smiling, friendly outwardly.’
‘Mei was generally an upbeat person, very sweet. Really cute and funny,’ Benami told DailyMail.com. ‘She would often drop off little gifts. She dropped off two huge crates of strawberries.When my water heater gave out, she insisted that we come to her place to take a shower. I was the only one who took her up on it.’
‘I know her parents, they lived here. They were often in the front yard. They actually had two chairs put out and they would sit there and wave. I could not communicate with them because they didn’t speak English but they were very warm, very sweet, very good with kids.
‘I don’t have a good feeling. I don’t think I am ever going to see those three again. She would never leave without the kids. She was an amazing mom and her three boys were very attached to her.
‘She did everything for them. Her whole life revolved around the boys. They did all kinds of extracurriculars and were very accomplished boys. She had very high hopes for them. She was an all around good mom, good person, good daughter to her parents.
‘I have met his parents many times. They are very friendly. They are from Mississippi. They would never miss a single birthday party. His sister Mary Elaine was very involved.’
Haskell is the son of former top Hollywood agent Samuel Haskell III and former Miss Mississippi Mary Donnelly-Haskell. They are seen with Haskell’s Sr’s clientDolly Parton
Haskell worked as a videographer and producer in Los Angeles, according to his IMDB page and social media accounts
Haskell lived with his wife’s parents and their three children as well as his in-laws YanXiang Wang, 64, and Gaoshan Li, 72, who are currently missing.
The three children, aged 6, 8 and 12 were found safe at school and are now with family.
The murder suspect’s father was also CEO of the Miss America organization from 2015-17, but resigned after he was found to have criticized some of the contestants in private emails, ridiculing one for gaining weight and describing another as promiscuous.
Haskell III is married to a former Miss Mississippi, Mary Donnelly Haskell, his college sweetheart, and the pair have a daughter, Mary Lane, as well as their son Sam IV.
In his Magnolia Hill biography, the senior Haskell, 68, says he is ‘widely known as ‘the nice guy in Hollywood’.
He continues: ‘Haskell is revered for rising to the top of a turbulent and often conscienceless business with his character, integrity and value-system intact.
‘His reputation for honesty, integrity, loyalty and fairness made him a consistent force in a sea of inconsistency and someone with whom actors, writers, directors and other industry professionals were eager to work.’
The arrest of his son has rocked their neighborhood in Tarzana after the headless torso believed to belong to Wei was found by a homeless person in a dumpster at around 6am.
The dumpster was captured in chilling surveillance footage showing a man struggling to lift a large black bag into of the garbage, before speeding away.