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Roommate arrested in case of severed head found under Hollywood sign

By Laila Kearney

(Reuters) - Police have arrested a man in Texas suspected of killing his roommate, a former Mexicana airlines employee, whose severed head was found underneath the famed Hollywood sign overlooking Los Angeles in 2012, officials said on Monday.

The suspect, 38-year-old Gabriel Campos-Martinez, was arrested on Sunday and is accused of murdering 66-year-old Hervey Coronado Medellin of Los Angeles and dumping parts of his dismembered body in Griffith Park near the Hollywood sign.

Prosecutors said the suspect was the roommate of the slain man, who a coroner's report said died of asphyxiation.

In January 2012, a mother and daughter walking dogs in the popular hiking area spotted Medellin's head in a plastic bag and reported it to park rangers. A search by police and a cadaver-sniffing dog turned up hands and feet belonging to Medellin.

Investigators speculated that the head, hands and feet were hidden together in the park and later moved around by animals. For days following the discovery, detectives canvassed an area near the 6.5-square-mile (17-square-km) park where the body parts were found, looking for clues.

Los Angeles police, in announcing the arrest on a warrant in the homicide case, gave scant details. Campos-Martinez was being held on bail of $1 million pending extradition proceedings in San Antonio, Texas, prosecutors said.

Both the Los Angeles and San Antonio police departments declined to release further details, including a potential motive for the crime.

Campos-Martinez was charged with murder on Monday, in a felony complaint that stated he killed Medellin on or around December 27, 2011, weeks before the body was discovered. Prosecutors said in a statement he could face 25 years to life in state prison if convicted.

The Hollywood sign on Mount Lee above Los Angeles was built in the 1920s to promote a housing development and originally read "Hollywoodland." The last few letters deteriorated in the 1940s and the part that remained was restored in 1978.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney in San Francisco; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Grant McCool and Lisa Shumaker)

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