Hollywood Hills Severed Head Case Looks at Victim’s Ex
Police are looking at whether the victim’s domestic partner was involved in the grisly crime. Christine Pelisek reports.
In January, a severed head, hands and feet were found on a wooded trail near the famed "Hollywood" sign, just a short distance from the home of star couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. After the remains of 66-year-old Hervey Medellin were discovered, Los Angeles police detectives searched his home, impounded his car for forensic evidence and scoured landfills looking for his torso.
But the so-called Hollywood Hills body parts case produced no arrests. The question remained: who killed and then dismembered the friendly retired Mexicana Airlines clerk?
Plenty of theories abounded, from the macabre to the ridiculous. One newspaper linked Medellin’s slaying to Luca Magnotta, a Canadian porn actor who allegedly dismembered a Chinese exchange student and sent some of his body parts to members of the Canadian parliament before he was finally caught in Berlin in June and later charged with murder. Then there were reports that Medellin was bumped off by a Columbian drug cartel.
However, according to a newly released search warrant affidavit obtained by the Daily Beast, Los Angeles detectives suspect that Medellin’s roommate and boyfriend Gabriel Campos-Martinez may have been involved in his death. “During the course of the interview, Campos-Martinez provided inconsistent and suspicious statements,” according to the document.
The police affidavit, which was released to the public on June 26, also revealed that Campos-Martinez submitted to a polygraph test just two days after two women walking nine dogs spotted the head on January 17 in Bronson Canyon Park after it flopped out of a plastic bag two of their dogs were playing with. “The results of the polygraph examination revealed Campos-Martinez was being deceitful of dismembering the victim’s body and having knowledge of the victim’s murder,” it read.
Campos-Martinez, who police say relocated to Texas, could not be reached for comment.
In the early stages of the police investigation, detectives said they learned that Campos-Martinez, who allegedly had access to Medellin’s ATM card and his monthly social security funds, was making bank and social security inquiries, and searching vehicle, housing, and gold and diamond websites. “Detectives believe Campos-Martinez may have been researching vehicle website to possibly make a purchase and housing website for relocation,” according to the document. “Furthermore, detectives believe he was researching the gold and diamond websites to possibly sell such items owned by the victim.”
Police also investigated a tip that came into the national nonprofit tip line Crime Stoppers on January 16, the day before Medellin was found, according to the affidavit. The tipster reportedly received email messages stating that: “Medellin was in Mexico and had not returned.” The emails were allegedly sent from Medellin’s email account.
Jim Hays, a detective from LAPD’s Hollywood Station who received the tip, stopped by the Hollywood apartment Campos-Martinez shared with Medellin that same day. Campos-Martinez allegedly told the detective that on the morning of December 27 Medellin woke him up to tell him he was going to Mexico. “Campo-Martinez said when he got up he realized that Medellin had left his car and cell phone in the apartment,” the affidavit read.
The detective urged Campos-Martinez to file a missing persons report. “Campos made the report because of Detective Hays and not on his own,” according to the document. “Campos also came to the Hollywood station later in the day and appeared to be crying uncontrollably and asked for a copy of the report.”
According to the police document, Hays made a cursory search of Medellin’s apartment but “did not see anything to indicate human blood or evidence of a crime scene.”
The police affidavit also shed some light on Campos-Martinez’ troubled relationship with his ex-lover William Ladewig. During an interview with detectives and Ladewig, according to the affidavit, Ladewig told them Campos-Martinez was “the love of my life” and “he was still having a hard time with the break-up.” However, he denied having any problems with Medellin.
Campos-Martinez filed three crime reports against Ladewig in 2011, according to the affidavit, but they were found to be unwarranted because Ladewig had not been properly served with a restraining order. In one of those reports, Campos-Martinez alleged “that Ladewig told Campos-Martinez that his new roommate [referring to Medellin] and his dog ‘would be sorry,’’’ the affidavit says, adding, “Ladewig also told Campos-Martinez: ‘You fucked with the wrong guy!’”
In a restraining order Campos-Martinez filed for on August 5, 2011, which the Daily Beast has reviewed, he claimed that Ladewig brought a pile of horse excrement along with a threatening note to his apartment. “In the note, he states that he won’t leave any peace or/room to live my life,” Campos-Martinez wrote. On another occasion, Campos-Martinez alleged that Ladewig “got my current roommate’s cell phone number and my roommate had to change his cell phone number because William won’t stop harassing.”
Contacted by the Daily Beast, Ladewig, who described himself as a caregiver, admitted he dumped the horse manure on Campos-Martinez’s doorstep, but said he also dropped off a “package of chicken, Spanish olive oil and treats for the dog.”
“It wasn’t just mean things,” he said. Ladewig claimed he met Campos-Martinez at a men’s spa in North Hollywood and they dated for three-and-a-half years.
Police documents show that Ladewig took a polygraph exam on January 20 and the results were inconclusive. “They asked me if I would take one and I said, ‘sure, I didn’t do anything wrong,’” Ladewig said.
Ladewig told the Daily Beast that he met Medellin while hiking with Campos-Martinez in Griffith Park.
On July 31, the Los Angeles City Council offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in Medellin’s murder. Later that afternoon, the Los Angeles Police Department held a press conference asking for the public’s help in finding his killer.
Asked by a reporter if detectives had cleared Medellin’s roommate, LAPD Captain William Hayes stated: “We are still looking at everybody.”
Hayes, who was asked about the progress of the investigation, said: “We have followed up on a number of things and they have not panned out. We are still looking at a number of options.”
The affidavit, which was signed by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge on April 11, compelled a consumer credit company to hand over the credit reports of Medellin, Campos-Martinez, and Ladewig to the Los Angeles Police Department.
“At this time, investigators are attempting to gather evidence as to how and why victim Medellin was killed and determine where the initial crime took place,” it read.
Dispelling months of press speculation that the Canadian porn star did it, Capt. Hayes said Luca Magnotta was not in Los Angeles at the time of the slaying. “We have worked with Canadian authorities and determined the individual was not responsible for the case,” he said. Hayes also said that Medellin was not killed by a drug cartel. “There is no connection with organized crime,” he said.