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Crime News

Aspiring Rapper's Body Found in Barrel That Washed Up on Shore of Malibu Lagoon

The body of Javonnta Murphy, a 23-year-old aspiring rapper, was found naked and stuffed in a 55-gallon drum along the shore of a California lagoon. 

By Elisabeth Ford
A photo of Javonnta Murphy

The nude body of a man found stuffed in a sealed barrel that washed up on the shore of a California lagoon has been identified as an aspiring rap artist, according to authorities.

Javonnta Murphy, 32, was found dead in the 55-gallon drum Monday at Malibu Lagoon State Beach, local TV station KTLA reported, citing authorities.

A park maintenance worker first spotted the barrel on Sunday night near the Pacific Coast Highway bridge. He paddled out with a kayak to investigate, but was unable to lift the barrel out of the water because of its weight, according to the station.

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Around 10 a.m. Monday morning, a lifeguard saw the barrel and swam out to drag it to shore. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the lifeguard opened the barrel and discovered the body inside, the station reported.

“It didn’t look decomposed or like it had been there for a long time,” said Lt. Hugo Raynaga, according to KTLA. 

An official stands next to a barrel where a body was discovered in Malibu Lagoon State Beach, CA.

Raynaga said that the tide could have pulled the barrel into the lagoon from the Pacific Ocean.

“At about 8 p.m., there’s a high tide here, and there’s a possibility that the container could have come in from the ocean and then got stuck in the lagoon — but we don’t know,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

Investigators are continuing to piece together clues in the case, hoping that witnesses or surveillance footage will aid in the investigation.

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Murphy was a local singer-songwriter trying to break into the music industry as a rapper.

Javonnie Murphy, the father of the man found in the barrel, told NBC Los Angeles that his son was “lovable” and was always trying to set a good example for others.

“I’m a strong Black man, but this, this is hurtful. I just want to know why. He didn’t deserve it,” Javonnie said, adding that his son was a father himself.

Javonnie said that the last time he saw his son was while they were both at a park last Thursday. Javonnie was barbecuing and his son was playing basketball. Javonnie told NBC Los Angeles that his son left the park “in good spirits” to change, but had planned to come back to the park to eat. He never returned though and that was the last time Javonnie saw or heard from his son, he said.

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“It just broke the whole family down. We are all hurting right now. We’re all hurting, and we want justice,” Murphy’s father said.

A family friend named Nelson told the L.A. Times that he couldn’t believe it when Murphy's mother told him that the man found in the barrel was his friend.

“It’s sad how life goes,” Nelson told the Times, adding that he didn't think the aspiring artist had any enemies. “Whatever happened to him, whoever did it, I wish they could have solved it in a different way — different than that way.”