March 21, 2008 / 12:43 AM / 10 years ago

Worker found hanged on property owned by Mel Gibson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Authorities on Thursday were investigating the apparent suicide of a construction worker found hanged inside a house being built on a piece of property owned by Oscar-winner Mel Gibson.

The victim was found Wednesday morning by the foreman of the job site, located in the Agoura Hills area northwest of Los Angeles, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detective Eddie Brown, who is conducting the investigation.

County property tax records show the nearly 9-acre parcel of land is owned by Gibson, 52, through his Millicent Trust. And according to the celebrity news Web site, which broke the story, the site is less than a mile from the Holy Family Catholic Church founded by Gibson, whose daughter was married there in 2006.

Neither of the two buildings at the site are occupied, and sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said, “there’s absolutely no indication that Mel Gibson ... was even aware of the incident.”

A spokesman for “The Passion of the Christ” director said neither Gibson nor family members have ever resided at the address but declined to comment otherwise.

Brown said the death appeared to be a suicide, but the official cause of death will be determined by the coroner.

The victim was identified as Michael John Van Dyke, 48, of Bonsall, California, who reported had worked as a construction foreman on a number of movie sets, including “The Matrix Reloaded” and “Doctor Dolittle.”

A spokesman for the coroner’s office said Van Dyke was a friend of a contractor at the job site where he was found.

Gibson won Academy Awards in 1996 for his work as director and producer on the historical drama “Braveheart,” in which he also starred.


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