Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jesse James Hollywood

Life on a Beach

At some point, the couple moved to a fishing village called Saquarema, an internationally known surfers' paradise an hour east of Rio. They lived in a yellow house with a high wooden gate, and Hollywood was seen jogging along the idyllic white beaches with his two pit bulls.

He tried to keep a low profile, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"He liked to socialize, but he had an explosive temper," said Wanderley Martins, a Federal Police inspector and local Interpol agent, told the Associated Press. "He fought with bar owners over his beer tab. He was like that."

Hollywod in custody in Rio
Hollywod in custody in Rio

Neighbors told the Los Angeles Times that he often quarreled with his girlfriend.  Apart from barbeques held with out-of-town guests, Hollywood rarely talked to his neighbors.

"He always had his head down... he never said anything," Walma Lindberg da Silva, who lived next door, told the paper. "I told my husband I thought there was something wrong with him."

After learning he was in Brazil, the FBI sent photographs and videos of Hollywood to local authorities and the trap was set. Hollywood arranged to meet his cousin at an outdoor mall in Saquarema. Hollywood, now 25, and his then 7-months-pregnant girlfriend, had just sat down at an outdoor table when a plainclothes policewoman walked toward him, smiling and calling his name. When he stood to greet her, she identified herself to the dismayed Hollywood as a cop.

As the Brazilian police drove the short blond man to their headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, it became clear from his fumbling Portuguese that he was not Brazilian. At the station, they confirmed his ID card was fake, but he insisted for two hours that there had been some kind of terrible a mix-up.

"Portuguese is a difficult language," Federal Police agent Kelly Bernardo, who made the arrest, told the Daily News. "He didn't speak really well, but we could understand what he said. He tried to maintain his story that his name was Michael. Then, in the end, he said he was Jesse James Hollywood."

Jesse James Hollywod, cuffed, transported to court
Jesse James Hollywod, cuffed, transported to court

In interviews, Brazilian police said they believed Hollywood had been living under an assumed name in their country for four years, and supported himself by teaching private English classes and walking dogs. But his biggest cash flow, they said, came from his father, who wired him $1,200 a month.

On the same day that Hollywood was arrested in Brazil, his father was arrested in Santa Barbara on suspicion of manufacturing GHB, the so-called "date-rape drug." Although the case was eventually thrown out — the 50-year-old had the ingredients to make GHB and a recipe, but no evidence of the finished product was found — he was kept in custody on a 2002 arrest warrant from Pima County, Arizona, for a marijuana-related charge.

On March 10, 2005, Hollywood landed at Los Angeles International Airport and was immediately taken to the Santa Barbara County Jail. He appeared briefly in the Santa Barbara Superior Court the next day, where he pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

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