Neighbors of the man whose head, hands and feet were found in the Hollywood hills said he had no family, but relatives in Texas said they kept in constant contact with Hervey Medellin.
"We’re used to hearing those stories here because we live on the border, but we never imagined that it would happen to a loved one – especially in California," said Medellin's grand-niece, who wished to remain anonymous to protect her family's privacy. "It’s surreal; I still can’t believe that this happened to him."
Police found human remains in Bronson Park, a green space just under the Hollywood sign, Tuesday and Wednesday. Authorities identified the victim as 66-year-old Hervey Medellin.
Medellin’s family saw the story on the local Latin channels, but did not make the connection that it could involve their relative, whose apartment complex was just south of Bronson Canyon Park.
"We’d say, ‘Oh, that’s where Junior lives,’ but we never put one and one together that it was him," his niece said.
They received a phone call on Friday asking if they knew Medellin, and the family said they’re still in shock.
Medellin, who was nicknamed Junior, had a brother and sister in Laredo, and another brother in Chicago – all of whom he would keep abreast on his latest stories, Medellin's grand-niece said.
"He would call us once or twice a week," she said.
Medellin retired after 25 years with Mexicana Airlines, for whom family members said he sold tickets. Working with the airlines allowed him to travel around the world.
"He was very sociable. Every time he would call he would tell us, 'Oh, I met this person,'" she said. "He always had a story to say about his friends, what he did, where he went.
"He was very positive; we never heard anything negative about him."
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The victim's grand-niece said the last time she saw her maternal grandmother’s brother was in 1983.
“Even though his family hasn’t seen him, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have anybody,” she said.
Medellin visited Los Angeles in the early 70s and quickly moved to the sunny city, the family said. He enjoyed staying in shape, walking his dog and collecting antiques.
Authorities searched the apartment he shared with a roommate and a dog, towed away Medellin’s gold Honda Civic and questioned his roommate Friday.
The family has plans to come to Los Angeles, but because the investigation is ongoing, they have not yet set a date.