News

California man charged with murder in death of Zachary Kennedy, who disappeared in 2017

A 54-year-old Long Beach, California, man was arrested this week on suspicion of killing a man who went missing in 2017 and whose remains were found the following year on his Long Beach property, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

Zachary Kennedy, 31, was last seen alive on October 22, 2017, at the home of the suspect, Scott Leo, according to a press release issued this week.

Zachary’s father Jeff Kennedy previously told Dateline that Zachary had made plans to have dinner with his companion, John Hill. Zachary and John had been in a romantic relationship for about four or five years, according to Jeff, but he wasn’t sure if they were together as partners any longer. Jeff says that John told him that Zachary said he was going to a friend’s house before dinner. That friend was Scott Leo.

“Zach was going to call John and say, ‘I’m ready for you to come pick me up.’ But that phone call never happened,” Jeff said. “After the initial text asking him to go to dinner, there was never another phone call made to John.”

On May 3, 2018, detectives obtained a search warrant and began an excavation at Scott Leo’s property on West Eighth Street. Police found Zachary’s body buried in Leo’s backyard with his feet severed, prosecutors said.

Leo faces one count each of murder, involuntary manslaughter, maintaining place for using methamphetamine and GHB and two counts of furnishing, according to the release.

The release stated that evidence uncovered during the long investigation allegedly showed the defendant was aware of Zachary’s dire condition due to an overdose, but failed to call emergency services.

Scott Leo’s arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Long Beach Branch. Bail is scheduled at $2 million. If convicted as charged, Leo faces a possible maximum sentence of life in state prison.

Zachary Kennedy was originally featured in Dateline’s Missing in America series shortly after he disappeared.

The case remains under investigation by the Long Beach Police Department.