Authorities and a family friend have identified the man found dead inside a barrel at Malibu Lagoon State Beach on Monday as Javonnta Murphy, a 32-year-old aspiring musician from Sylmar.
The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner disclosed the identity but provided no further details on the cause and manner of death, which is currently under investigation by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s homicide detectives.
According to Patrick Nelson, a 46-year-old family friend who considered himself a stepfather figure to Murphy, the young man grew up in South Los Angeles alongside his four brothers.
After his grandmother’s passing, Murphy moved to his own apartment in Sylmar, pursuing a career in rapping with dreams of becoming a successful artist. Murphy was known for his dedication to fitness, spending time weightlifting and running, and he also had a young son.
“He was a good kid, a good person. He didn’t gang-bang. What happened to him? I just don’t understand,” said Nelson.
According to Lt. Hugo Reynaga from the sheriff’s homicide bureau, the 55-gallon drum was initially spotted on Sunday by a maintenance worker who used a kayak to bring it to the sandy shore of the Malibu lagoon. However, the maintenance worker refrained from opening the container at that time.
Around 10 a.m. on Monday, a lifeguard observed the same barrel back in the lagoon. He swam out, brought it onto the beach, and opened it, revealing the body, as mentioned by Reynaga.
A source familiar with the investigation who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly said the barrel was opened because of its suspicious weight. Because the barrel was sealed and the man inside it was naked, the death is likely a case of foul play, the source said.
On Monday, Reynaga mentioned that the duration the body had been inside the barrel remained uncertain; however, the body showed no signs of decomposition.
Reynaga stated that detectives were actively working to ascertain the origin of the barrel, as it displayed markings indicating it might have originated from a printing company.
Murphy’s Minor Criminal History and Unfamiliarity in Malibu
Court records indicate that Murphy’s criminal history was relatively minor, involving two arrests in 2017 for misdemeanors such as battery, domestic violence, and failure to appear in court. These cases were settled through a plea deal, resulting in a 45-day jail term, three years of probation, and court-ordered domestic abuse classes.
However, in 2018, he received a three-day jail sentence after violating a protective order related to one of those cases.
During the time of those arrests, Murphy stated that he was employed by a staffing agency and resided in a second-floor unit within an apartment complex located in Sylmar. When a man answered the apartment’s door on Wednesday, he claimed to be unfamiliar with Murphy.
Nelson, a close family friend, expressed that he was unaware of Murphy spending time in the Malibu area. When Murphy’s mother informed Nelson that her son was the person he had seen on the news, washed ashore in a barrel, Nelson found it difficult to believe.
He pondered whether Murphy had any adversaries, but he couldn’t think of anyone who would commit such an act against a young and ambitious individual with dreams of achieving stardom.
“It’s sad how life goes,” Nelson said. “Whatever happened to him, whoever did it, I wish they could have solved it in a different way — different than that way,” Nelson added.
Source: Yahoo! News