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Sally Menke, longtime film editor for Quentin Tarantino, found dead near Griffith Park [Updated]

Director Quentin Tarantino's longtime film editor, who went hiking with her dog amid the extreme heat Monday, was discovered dead early Tuesday morning by searchers in Bronson Canyon, according to law-enforcement sources.

[Updated at 1:59 p.m.: An earlier version mistakenly said she was found in Beachwood Canyon.]

6a00d8341c630a53ef0133f4aac42c970b-500wi Award-winning film editor Sally Menke, 56, worked on such movies as "Pulp Fiction," "Kill Bill" and "Jackie Brown."

[Updated at 7:49 a.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly listed Menke's age as 53.]

Menke had gone hiking in the morning, and her friends alerted police after she failed to come home.

Search dogs, an LAPD helicopter and officers from patrol units spent hours in Griffith Park searching for her.

Her locked car was found in a Griffith Park parking lot. Menke's dog was found alive, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because the investigation was ongoing, said Menke's body was found at the bottom of a ravine near 5600 block of Green Oak Drive.

No cause of death was immediately reported, and it's unclear whether the heat was a factor.

[Updated at 8:42 a.m.: LAPD Lt. Bob Binder said Menke and a hiking buddy set out about 9 a.m. to hike a trail in Bronson Canyon, in the shadows of the Hollywood sign. An hour later, Menke's partner decided to turn back. Menke and her Labrador retriever continued on.

That was the last time she was reported seen. Friends and family contacted authorities about 4 p.m.

First on the scene were officers with the city's General Services Department, which patrols the park. Searchers with the LAPD Metro Division and Los Angeles Fire Department were called in around 6 p.m. Her family and friends aided in the search.

Menke's body was found just after 2 a.m. at the bottom of a ravine near the 5600 block of Green Oak Drive in Bronson Canyon.

Her dog was sitting next to her body, which was about a football field's length from nearby homes.

Ed Winter, assistant chief of the L.A. County coroner's office, said there did not appear to be a jump in deaths Monday because of the extreme heat.

Sources familiar with the death investigation believe Menke became disoriented and collapsed, and the weather conditions contributed to her death. Winter said the coroner's office is trying to determine whether the heat played a role in Menke's death.]

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photos: The scene at the end of Green Oak Drive, where the body of Sally Menke was placed in the coroner's truck. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times. Below left, Sally Menke Credit: WireImage

Comments () | Archives (93)

Why did the friend separated with her after an hour? Did she ask her to head back with her? I'd question the friend more for details as a hiking partner usually start and ends the hike with you. There might be foul play here.

hiking..by YOURSELF..in 113 degrees. I'm trying to feel bad for her but I really can't.

I drove to Griffith Park the day before to hike and when I got out of my car the it was so hot I turned back because I told myself at age 60 it was not safe for me. I didn't want to end up dead at the top of Mt Hollywood. Then this.

Hmmm... How do you spell HEATSTROKE? Prayers to her friends and family but this death was highly avoidable.

This is the quickest and probably best memoriam i could find under short notice.


Heat kills more people than any other type of weather phenomenon. Even with gallons of water available, hiking in 113-degree heat is unwise. In fact, doing just about anything outdoors in 113-degree heat is unwise.

A most unfortunate loss. Great editors are a rare breed.

What a terrable loss. My condolences to the family for there loss

May she Rest in Peace.
We have loved her work, and she will be sorely missed in the Industry.

My condolences to her family and loved ones. To all those who would use this as an opportunity to blame her, please control yourself and refrain from doing so, if you can. Life is uncertain.

Through the sadness, there is beauty in the loyalty of her dog. I hope that her family can feel the connection to her through her pet for years to come.

Going to celebrate her life tonight by watching one of QT films she edited...

I have hiked that area more times than I can remember; it is so pleasant. This is very sad. Hopefully there was no foul play involved. The story does not sound reasonable to me.

everyone always speculating
My condolences to all who loved her.

I went to high school with Sally in Gainesville, Florida, Class of '72, and watched her career---and every one of those films... with admiration. My heart goes out to her husband and her two children.

Went jogging once when it was 106°F. I was in my 20s and after about 2 miles stopped and walked home; I just couldn't go on. Finally got home and collapsed for hours afterwards. Heat is dangerous. . .be careful.

—Yes, I know it was stupid to run when it was 106. . .but I was in my 20s. ;-)

I go hiking in those mountains all the time ,I always bring a full wineskin and a emergency phone , I have lost many friends and have seen many injuries on the trail always prepare when you go on a hike its not like going to a gym.

Very sad. No criticism meant of her, but it's just not a good idea to go hiking when extreme heat in excess of 100 is expected. Two hikers in separate incidents died last year hiking near Palm Springs when the temperatures exceeded 100; they died due to the heat. Rest in peace, Ms. Menke.

earlier reports paraphrased her hiking partner that Ms.Menke tried to take a short cut to get back to her car. Additionally TV news stated she was dressed warmly. Poor lady. I wonder if her dog tried to comfort her at the end.

why on earth was she doing this in the heat... why did she take her dog out in the heat too? Terrible. I'm surprised her dog didn't die as well

The temperature was 113°F at 2pm, not necessarily when she was hiking. The article clearly states they set out at 9am and her friend turned back at 10am. It was still bloody hot at 9AM, but it was no where close to 113°F, it was more likely still in the 80s moving into the 90s at that point. The actual temperature also exceeded the daily forecats by a good 5-8°. She clearly hiked past 10am, but there is no time of death, so to assume her death happened during 113°F is nothing more than an assumption. She may have very well slipped off into that ravine at 10:30am when temperatures were still under 100°F.

Regardless, not the best day for a hike, especially alone, turning around at 10am with her friend would have saved a life. The bigger risk here was hiking alone, more so than the heat. A very unfortunate loss.

This is so sad. My heart goes out to her family. I hope her dog goes to family members. I can only visualize how sad the scene must of looked, with her loyal dog right by her side. It is so dangerous to go hiking in that kind of heat. She edited some of my favorite films. My condolences.

What did I notice about this tragic story? The dog never left her side, even after death. Just goes to show you what fabulous pets dogs are.

So sad, and very touching about the dog. I hope the dog will be OK!!!

Just goes to show how loyal dogs are. I go hiking with my dogs (a German Shepherd/Golden retriever and a Beagle/BAssett mix), though in extreme weather we go shorter lenghts and in area with lots of tress (shade). Sometime (at also 56 years of age) I often wonder what would happen if I suddenly collasped, if not died (virtually) alone on the walk/hikes. I know one thing, my pups would lay down beside me and stay there until pulled away. Very sad. RIP Ms. Menke. You pup will grieve, also.

Sad loss of a talented person. Like other posters, I was touched by the devotion of her dog, staying by her side after she had died. I have had dogs as pets for 23 years and they are wonderful companions. I have loved all of the dogs I have had over those 23 years and would do anything for them. One of my highest priorities is the well being of the animals in my care.

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