Southern California breaking news and trends

'Indiana Bones' and the case of the hiker who maybe took photos with a severed head

Human Head Found

Jason Redmond/AP

Two unidentified women hike in Griffith Park near the Hollywood sign after a plastic bag containing a human head was discovered Tuesday by two women walking their dogs on a nearby trail off Canyon Drive.

Though no additional human remains were unearthed today following the disturbing discoveries this week of body parts in the Hollywood Hills, the sad and weird news still got sadder and weirder.

As of Thursday afternoon, the body-part tally stood at five, with two human hands and two human feet recovered Wednesday by cadaver dogs, including one named Indiana Bones

Additionally, there were unconfirmed reports today that the hiker may have posed for photos with the severed head after calling 911. 

Gawker reported that the L.A. Times, New York Post and TMZ were being solicited by a "prominent Hollywood photo agency" shopping around pictures of one of the women posing with the severed head. The asking price for the image was $5,000.

In a phone call with KPCC, LAPD spokesman Andy Smith confirmed that authorities heard rumors about the photos, but that they did not have any hard evidence.

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High fives for 'Hand Jive' composer Johnny Otis, dead at 90

Johnny Otis, the "godfather of rhythm and blues," actual father of Shuggie Otis, composer of "Willie and the Hand Jive," producer of Big Mama Thornton's original "Hound Dog" recording, and the fellow who suggested the Creolettes' lead singer Jamesetta change her name to Etta James, died Tuesday at his home in Altadena, CA. He was 90.


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Catalina Island Fox outsmarts extinction

santa catalina island fox

AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian

A Santa Catalina Island fox pup dashes into the wilderness after being released on Santa Catalina Island, CA. The Catalina Island Conservancy released 10 captive-bred pups from one breeding season in an effort to reestablish the subspecies.

The Catalina Island Fox, an omnivorous fox subspecies found only on Santa Catalina Island, has outwitted extinction in an unprecedented creature comeback.

Conservationists began a recovery program for the gray, pointed nose canid in the late 1990s following a distemper epidemic that saw the fox population plummet to a sparse population of about 100 on the 76-square-mile island. When the captive breeding program ended in 2004, the foxes were listed as endangered.

There are now 1,542 cat-sized foxes that share the island with approximately 3,200 humans and more than 1 million tourists a year, reports the L.A. Times. In the foxes' favor, no natural predators exist on the island, and plenty of food — from mice to cherries — is readily available.

It's considered one of the most successful recoveries ever for an endangered species, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Human feet found in Hollywood Hills near severed head, hands

Human Head Found

Jason Redmond/AP

Mounted Los Angeles Police officers search the Bronson Canyon area of Griffith Park after a human head was discovered Tuesday by two people walking their dogs below the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles, Jan. 18, 2012. Investigators have also located two severed feet.

The body part tally in the Hollywood Hills continues to climb with the discovery of two severed feet near a hiking trail in Bronson Canyon Park on Wednesday afternoon.

Two severed hands were found by Los Angeles Police Department investigators earlier on Wednesday following the discovery of a severed head in a bag by two dogs on Tuesday.

Officials have not identified the victim, but believe he may have been of Armenian descent. 

The cause of death has not been determined, but police do not believe the man died at the location where the body parts have been found. 

The death is thought to be recent given the lack of decomposition.

 

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TSA 'PreCheck' program arrives at LAX with speedy security options

Mercer 6715

Getty Images

LAX

A new, passenger pre-screening program will have travelers flying through TSA security ASAP at LAX.

The Transportation Security Administration "PreCheck" pilot program touches down at Los Angeles International Airport on Jan. 18, offering pre-approved fliers an expedited security experience. 

At check-in, PreCheck enrolled passengers will not have to go shoeless and beltless, they can leave liquids and laptops inside carry-on luggage, as they mosey a reserved fast path through the security area.

Expedited screening does not guarantee immunity from standard security restrictions, however. Random searches and unexpected measures are still a possibility.

As part of the program's application process, individuals are required to release personal information, submit to fingerprinting and background checks, and participate in a face-to-face interview. 

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