CRIME

Hollywood Sign Head: Serial Killer Expert Weighs In On Mystery

01/19/2012 06:28 pm ET | Updated Jan 20, 2012

The hunt is on in the Hollywood Hills for the individual or individuals responsible for discarding severed human remains near the iconic Hollywood sign.

So far police have recovered a head, two hands and two feet. The head and appendages are believed to belong to the same individual. While the victim's torso and identity remain unknown, police suspect that the body belongs to a white male, between 40 and 60 years old.

There has been a lot of speculation in the media that the victim could have been killed by a sadistic serial killer or was possibly the victim of a cult sacrifice or hitman. While anything is possible, retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent Mark Safarik told The Huffington Post it is too soon to begin contemplating a motive or possible suspects.

"The biggest problem in this case is the same as the one police initially ran into in the Long Island [serial killer] case -- they do not know the identity of the victim. Without the identity they don't have a starting point," Safarik said.

The severed head was found on Tuesday by two dog walkers near the famous Hollywood sign. Two of the dogs found a plastic bag near the foot path and began shaking it when a human head fell out. On Wednesday, authorities found the hands and feet roughly 50 yards away from the location where the head was found, police said.

Earlier Thursday, more than 100 police officers were back searching the Hollywood wilderness park for additional body parts. So far nothing of interest has been found.

Due to the level of decomposition and the lack of animal activity, authorities suspect the victim died on Sunday. Police have speculated that the head was in the woods roughly 12 hours prior to its discovery.

Safarik and his business partner, retired FBI agent Robert Ressler, are the founders of Forensic Behavioral Services International, a 16-year-old company that provides expert opinion and analysis to law enforcement agencies, attorneys, Fortune 500 companies and foreign entities.

Based on his vast knowledge of criminal behavior, Safarik said the victim's dismemberment likely took place at another location.

"It takes a lot of work to dismember someone," he said. "They would need to do it where they could have plenty of time and privacy to complete the job."

Despite similar crimes portrayed on TV or in the movies, dismemberment is not a common practice among killers, explained the veteran investigator.

"Dismemberment is rare. It only occurs in an exceptionally small number of cases," Safarik said.

CASE PHOTOS: (Article Continues Below)

Human Head Found

And, while a crime of this nature may cause people to envision a crazed madman, there are various reasons someone could be prompted to dismember a body.

"It could be a need-driven behavior, a contract killing or the killer may have [dismembered the victim] to make him easier to transport," Safarik said.

There is only one way to be certain. He added, "Get the [victim's] identity and the investigation will get kicked into high gear."

David Lohr author will be discussing this case tonight on Entertainment Tonight. Check your local listing for air times or visit etonline.com.

all-related-on-huffpost

Suggest a correction
351 Comments

CONVERSATIONS