LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Calif. – Los Angeles County deputies have made arrests of two men connected to the homicide of an aspiring rapper whose body was found stuffed inside a barrel at Malibu Lagoon over the summer.
In July, officials discovered the naked body Javonnta Murphy, 32, stuffed inside a barrel off a Malibu beach, Law Officer reported earlier. On Thursday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Joshua Simmons is being held on suspicion of murder. A second man identified as Dennis Vance was booked on suspicion of accessory to the murder, LASD told FOX 11 Los Angeles.
In August, TMZ reported a possible connection between rapper Pop Smoke’s homicide and Murphy’s death.
Murphy is believed to be the brother of Jaquan Murphy, who was one of the five people arrested for Pop Smoke’s 2020 murder, although he was later cleared in the homicide.
LASD officials have neither confirmed nor denied if Javonnta Murphy’s murder is in fact connected to Pop Smoke’s death.
Simmons previously made news headlines for a failed smash-and-grab robbery attempt at a jewelry store in El Monte. During the botched robbery, store employees turned the tables against Simmons, beating the large man with a stick and chasing him from the store.
In a video clip of the El Monte incident featured by FOX 11, Simmons was seen losing his shirt and running from the scene in very “unflattering angles,” the news outlet reported.
Murphy had two prior arrests in 2017 for battery, domestic violence and failing to appear in court, all misdemeanors. The cases were resolved with a plea deal that called for 45 days in jail, three years of probation and court-ordered domestic abuse classes, according to court records. After violating a protective order in that case, he was sentenced to three days in jail in 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported.
No further details were immediately available regarding the arrests of Simmons and Vance.