LOS ANGELES (TCD) — Officials have arrested two suspects in connection with the death of a man whose body was found in a large barrel at a Malibu beach in August.
According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, on Monday, July 31, shortly after 10 a.m., homicide detectives responded to the 23200 block of the Pacific Coast Highway in reference to a death investigation. A lifeguard noticed and retrieved a 55-gallon plastic barrel drum and found the victim, Javonnta Murphy, inside.
Investigators determined Murphy had not been in the barrel for long before the discovery.
The Sheriff’s Office identified 37-year-old Joshua Lee Simmons and 41-year-old Dennis Vance as the suspects and said they were “known to be acquaintances of the victim.”
The motive is still under investigation.
According to KTLA-TV, Murphy’s brother was one of five people arrested in connection with rapper Pop Smoke’s death in 2020. Murphy’s brother was later cleared of attempted murder charges.
Authorities were reportedly investigating whether Murphy’s killing was a form of retaliation for the killing of Pop Smoke.
Simmons was charged with murder, personal use of a firearm, and criminal threats. He was also charged with attempted robbery, two counts of criminal threats, with a personal use of bear spray in connection with a robbery attempt in El Monte last month.
The El Monte Police Department released Simmons’ photos, stating that on Saturday, Sept. 2, he attempted a smash-and-grab robbery at Meza Jewelry. He allegedly used bear spray on employees as reported by KTLA. However, the workers were able to stop the suspect’s efforts.
Vance faces one count of accessory after the fact.