Los Angeles authorities are investigating a potential link between the 2020 murder of Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke and a naked body that was found locked in a barrel floating off a Malibu beach last week.
Family members identified the remains stuffed inside the barrel as those of singer-songwriter Javonnta Murphy, 32, who was the brother of Jaquan Murphy – one of five people arrested at the following the murder of Pop Smoke.
Jaquan was initially charged with the attempted murder of the rapper, but was later cleared of any wrongdoing. He is, however, awaiting trial for an unrelated murder in Los Angeles County.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is now investigating the possibility that Javonnta was killed in retaliation for Pop’s murder, TMZ reported.
Los Angeles authorities are investigating whether Javonnta Murphy, 32, left, may have been killed in retaliation for the 2020 murder of rapper Pop Smoke
Murphy’s older brother was originally arrested in connection with Pop Smoke’s murder, but was cleared of any wrongdoing. Doctors are seen transporting the victim to an ambulance which took him to hospital, where he was pronounced dead in February 2020
The star, whose real name was Bashar Barakah Jackson, 20, was killed in a suspected home invasion at a Hollywood Hills home he had rented by a group of masked men around 4.30am in February 2020.
In July, two men and two teenagers were charged with her murder. The four defendants were members of the same street gang and allegedly learned Pop Smoke’s whereabouts from his Instagram account.
They could see the rapper’s Airbnb address on a gift bag tag and saw that he had a stack of cash with him.
A friend of someone staying at the home had called 911 to report the intruders, police said.
The rapper’s body was discovered shortly after, and he was later pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.
Hours before he was killed, Pop Smoke shared three photos of himself outside the house on Instagram. In two of the photos (above), the rapper poses with Louis Vuitton luggage next to the same white Range Rover that was parked in the driveway when doctors arrived.
In the third photo, Pop Smoke sits in the driver’s seat of the SUV next to his friend Mike Dee, who is holding a huge stack of cash
In April, a 20-year-old man pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme, admitting he and his friends entered Pop Smoke’s Hollywood Hills mansion with a plan to steal a “large gold watch” from the rapper.
The accused, who has not been named because he committed the crime when he was a minor, pleaded guilty to intentional homicide and robbery with home invasion.
He was allegedly the one who scouted the mansion and recruited others for the crime.
The 20-year-old was sentenced to four years and two months at the Secure Youth Treatment Facility in Los Angeles, but could remain in juvenile detention until he turns 25.
The accused is the first in the alleged scheme to plead guilty.
Other defendants included Corey Walker, who is the only adult defendant in the case.
Prosecutors claimed Walker was caught in a secretly taped prison interview, which allegedly confessed to his role in the murder.
Walker reportedly admitted how the group used ski masks and a police scanner to try to avoid being caught.
“He said when the individuals came inside, the suspects were confronted by (Pop Smoke), who was naked in the shower,” the LAPD detective said. Carlos Camacho testified in 2021.
At one point, according to Walker’s account of the crime, it appeared that Pop Smoke was complying with demands for the jewelry he was still wearing, but the rapper fought back and “rushed” the intruders.
The rapper was then whipped with a pistol before a 15-year-old shot him in the chest, according to Walker’s account.
The rapper, real name Bashar Barakah Jackson, 20, was reportedly shot dead by an unnamed 15-year-old suspect.
An aerial photo taken from video provided by Fox11 News KTTV-TV shows the Hollywood Hills home where Pop Smoke was shot
The teenager also allegedly admitted his role in the murder during a recorded interview with a cellmate at a juvenile detention centre.
“He admitted to shooting the victim three times with a 9mm Barretta,” Camacho told a preliminary hearing.
“They got into a fight and he shot her three times,” Camacho detailed, referring to the interview recorded in prison. “He said he shot him in the back.”
The 15-year-old “admitted to asking for the jewelry” and had “a confrontation” with Pop Smoke, the detective said.
Keandre Rodgers has also been charged with murder and robbery.
He and Walker now face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Jaquan was initially arrested but never charged with the murder.
Last week the remains of Javonnta Murphy were found piled up in a 55 gallon drum floating in the water off the coast of Malibu.
Her younger brother’s body was found naked and stuffed inside a 55 gallon drum floating in the water along the Pacific Coast Highway bridge last week.
Sanitation workers first spotted the drum on July 30, but Javonnta was not discovered dead until the next morning when rescuers swam out to retrieve it and noticed its weight.
“He didn’t look broken down or like he had been there a long time,” Lt. Hugo homicide investigator Hugo Raynaga said.
Homicide detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are currently investigating Javonnta’s death, and authorities believe high tide may have carried the barrel into the Malibu lagoon from the ocean.
It’s still unclear how Murphy died, how long his body was inside the barrel, or where he came from.
The beach was closed as homicide investigators combed the scene.
Malibu Lagoon State Beach is in Malibu, California, and also known as Surfrider Beach.
The 110-acre site is within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and approximately 28 miles from Los Angeles.
Malibu is located west of Los Angeles and is known for being home to celebrities and beaches – not dramatic crime scenes. The average income sits at $71,000, more than double the national average of $31,000.
The incident left locals reeling from the discovery.
Former Mayor Jefferson Wagner told the Los Angeles Times that when he first saw the barrel on Sunday evening, he thought it was a toxic waste container. He added that he did not recall a similar situation in the community.
“That’s not what’s happening in Malibu,” Wagner told the outlet, adding that he was “deeply disturbed.” This is not a common occurrence. I mean, bodies in a barrel, it’s just sad.