Here is the link that goes to LA Times news article from Nov. 24, 1987. The “George Collier” is our own “Hal”.
-ThonieMurder Suspect Says He Used Saw to Cut Up Dog
The following story is true. I haven’t changed the names this time because they are a matter of public record. On August 28, 1987, I was working a radio car on Day Watch in Hollywood Division. I had about 17 years on the job and was working with a probationer.
We received a radio call, “Go to Jack’s Rents on Santa Monica Blvd”. See the manager, possible blood on a rented chain saw. Ok, people always say, “I’ll bet you’ve seen everything”, but I tell them if you work Hollywood long enough you’ll realize you’ll never see everything.
I told my probationer that an old partner raised cattle and today’s rustlers use chain saws to cut up the beef and sell it. Now there aren’t a lot of cows in Hollywood but we do have a large deer population in the Hollywood hills. I also told him don’t believe everything you’re told. It might not be blood at all.
We arrive at Jack’s Rents and speak to the manager. He says that a man rented a chain saw last week and returned it a day later. An employee put the saw under a work bench until he could clean it up. A few days later, he took out the saw and noticed that the saw was covered in blood and flesh. The manager said after conferring with the company attorney, they called the police.
Now, I have seen a lot of dried blood in my career, but I’m not a forensic expert or a technical adviser on any of the CSI TV shows. I looked at the saw, and damn, it looks like blood and flesh to me. My probationer gave me that you’re the senior officer look when I asked his opinion. The manager showed me the rental slip. The saw was rented to a Max B. Franc of West Hollywood. The phone number that he gave was local.
I’ve been through three Hollywood scandals and know better than to kiss off anything that might come back to bite me. I called the head detective of Hollywood Homicide, Russ Custer. I explained what I have and he said, “Well Hal, call the guy and see what he used the saw for.”
I call Max Franc and asked him, ” Did you rent the chain saw and why does it look like there’s blood on it”? Max tells me he did rent the saw and used it to cut up a dead dog. I asked who’s dog and he said he didn’t know. How did the dog die, I inquire.
Max, (See? We’re on a first name basis) said he hit it in Beverly Hills and wanted to get rid of it. It was too big to throw in the trash can so he cut it up. I asked where is the dog now and he said he buried it off the 5 Freeway north of L.A. When I questioned Max about why he cut up someone else’s dog he became vague. I told Max to hold on a minute and I talked to Detective Custer. I told Custer, this guys story is crazy, even for Hollywood. When I returned to Max he had hung up.
Custer and I discussed Max’s odd behavior and answers. Custer didn’t want to get bit either and said, “Let’s play it safe. Take the saw to SID (Scientific Investigation Division),” our CSI. They tested it and confirmed it was blood, but would have to do more tests to determine if it was human.
I was off the next day and got a call from Lt. Ed. Hocking, the Officer in Charge of Hollywood Detectives. He said the blood was human and they were going to conduct a search warrant of Max’s residence. He asked if I wanted to go, because it was my superior investigative skills that broke the case. Ok, maybe that’s not quite the truth but that’s they way I want to remember it. I had to beg off because I was working an off duty job at the Hollywood Bowl. My daughter needed braces.
The search warrant confirmed that someone was cut up with a chain saw in Max’s bathtub. Coincidentally, a set of arms and legs were found off the 5 Freeway near Magic Mountain and a head and torso were found in a field near Fresno. Max was arrested the next day by West Hollywood Sheriffs and charged with murder.
Funny, LAPD determined that a crime had occurred and where and we collected evidence. The LA County Sheriffs took over and took the credit for the arrest and prosecution.
Max was a Public Administration Professor at California State Fresno College and kept an apartment in West Hollywood where he would entertain male homosexual prostitutes.
The victim was shot and then dismembered in Max’s bathtub. The murder weapon was found in Max’s desk drawer in his office at CaIifornia State Fresno. I testified in court, (C-Attachment) and Max was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years to life. In Sept. of 1997 Max suffered a heart attack and died in prison.
One reply on “Ramblings: A True Chain Saw Story”
So happy that you asked the question, and followed through on what would/could have been an unsolved case. Thank you. I wish you had been the officer who responded to my son’s sudden, unattended death that turned out to be from poisoning. No one in Montgomery county Penna will ask the questions, “Where were you when your husband died? Why didn’t you ‘return home’ when the responding officer said you must return home? Why is there no record of you attending the ‘meeting’ you said you attended? (There was no meeting at the facility she mentioned that day and she was not registered with this organization- from my Freedom of Information request).