Bodies of Two California Men Found Hanging From Trees – Families Want Answers

Robert Fuller and Malcolm Harsch were both found dead, hanging from trees. (Credit: Family Photos)

Relatives of two Black men found hanging from trees in separate incidents in Southern California are calling for thorough investigations into how the men died.

Robert Fuller, 24, was found dead on Wednesday, June 10, in Palmdale, Calif.  His body was hanging from a tree in a park near Palmdale City Hall.

[Robert Fuller and Malcolm Harsch (L to R) are shown above in family photos]

The next day, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Fuller’s death appeared to be a suicide, but announced that investigators would wait to make a final determination until they receive a full autopsy report. The coroner’s office performed an autopsy last week, but deferred the cause of death.

Fuller’s sister, Diamond Alexander, spoke out Saturday at a protest honoring her brother’s memory near Palmdale’s city hall building.

“We want to find out the truth on what really happened,” Alexander said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Everything they told us is not right. We just want the truth. My brother was not suicidal. He was a survivor. He was street smart.”

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Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the area, called on California’s attorney general to conduct an independent investigation.

“Today, I asked California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra to conduct an independent investigation into the death of Mr. Robert Fuller, who was discovered hanging from a tree in the city of Palmdale,” Barger wrote in a letter posted on her website. “The attorney general, as the lead attorney and law enforcement official for the state of California, will lend additional expertise and oversight into this important investigation and provide the community with the answers they deserve.”

Meanwhile in the Southern California community of Victorville, authorities are investigating the death of Malcolm Harsch, 38, who was found hanging from a tree on the morning of May 31.

Harsch’s body was discovered near a homeless encampment outside a public library. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said there were no signs of foul play, but Harsch’s relatives doubt he killed himself.

“Malcolm had very recent conversations with his children about seeing them soon. He didn’t seem to be depressed to anyone who truly knew him,” the family said in a statement to the Victor Valley News. “EVERYONE who knew our brother was shocked to hear that he allegedly hung himself and don’t believe it to be true as well as the people who were there when his body was discovered. The explanation of suicide does not seem plausible.”

Relatives also criticized the coroner’s office for its handling of the case.

“His body sat at the San Bernardino County Coroner for 12 days before an autopsy was performed,” the statement continued. “We understand that Victorville is a small city and have been reminded regularly that San Bernardino is very busy (as if we aren’t patient enough for necessary answers) but feel that our brother’s death will be waived off as a suicide to avoid any further media attention.”

The two deaths have drawn national attention as protesters continue to take to the streets across the nation calling for an end to violence against African Americans, following the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.