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Dog walker missing as dog returns home with bloody leash

A Southern California family is asking for the public's help in finding a missing man whose dog returned home from walk alone with a bloody leash, police said.

Darwin Vela, 22, was last seen Tuesday about 9 p.m. in the 2900 block of South Redondo Boulevard in Los Angeles, east of Culver City, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Vela took his dog "Coco" for a walk, and the 3-year-old, 90-pound chocolate Labrador Retriever dog came home without Vela, dragging a bloody leash, police said. Family members said he has never gone missing before.

"His tail was between his legs and he was hunched over crying," said Vela's fiancée, Kelly McLaren. "I grabbed the leash and looked down and there was a thumbprint-size spot of blood."

A lab test on Thursday confirmed the blood on the leash was human blood, police said.

Police, bloodhounds and choppers were in full force Thursday night in search of the man.

McLaren said she and Vela are witnesses in a criminal case, which had a preliminary hearing earlier Thursday.

"The circumstances caused us concern and caused his family concern, so we are looking into that," LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese said.

The family plans to canvass the neighborhood to search for Darwin and tell residents of their missing loved one.

Vela's mother is set to take a DNA test Friday to help police determine if the blood is that of her son.

Vela is described as a Hispanic man with black hair and brown eyes, 5 feet 6 inches tall, about 160 pounds. He was dark green knit cap, a black shirt and blue jeans.