Man Found Sealed in Barrel on Malibu Beach Died of Gunshot Wound to the Head

Law Enforcement Investigating Possible Motives For The Crime 

By Dolores Quintana

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office has determined that the man discovered deceased inside a barrel on a Malibu beach was shot in the head, as confirmed by recent autopsy findings.

The man was identified last week as 32-year-old Javonnta Murphy. The cause of death, which was initially undisclosed, has now been officially listed as a gunshot wound to the head. The circumstances that led to Murphy’s tragic demise, as well as how he was placed within a barrel, are currently under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office.

The 55-gallon black plastic barrel was first sighted floating in a Malibu lagoon on July 30. A lifeguard at Malibu Lagoon State Beach opened the barrel on July 31 after it had drifted back into the lagoon.

Just how long the body was in the barrel isn’t yet known. The Los Angeles Times reported that Murphy had grown up in South Los Angeles alongside four brothers and aspired to become a rapper. Patrick Nelson, a family friend, revealed Murphy’s musical ambitions. Notably, law enforcement is now exploring a possible connection between Murphy’s death and the 2020 murder of rapper Pop Smoke, TMZ reports.

His brother, Jaquan Murphy, 24, was previously arrested in connection with the murder of Pop Smoke, who was fatally shot during a home-invasion robbery in the Hollywood Hills in 2020. Despite initially being detained along with four other suspects for attempted murder, Jaquan was subsequently cleared of the charges.

The authorities are currently investigating the potential of Javonnta’s murder being an act of retaliation linked to the rapper’s tragic death. Law enforcement sources have informed TMZ that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is actively exploring this theory as well as other possible motives.

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