UPDATE: The body was identified by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner as 32-year-old Javonnta Murphy. Read more.
MALIBU, Calif. – The corpse of a man was found stuffed inside a 55-gallon drum at Malibu Beach on Monday, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Detectives with the law enforcement agency are trying to identify the individual and find evidence related to the homicide.
A park maintenance worker first spotted the barrel floating in the water at the Malibu Lagoon near the Pacific Coast Highway bridge on Sunday evening. The employee tried to drag the container to shore, but it was too heavy so it remained in the water overnight, KTLA reported.
When lifeguard personnel arrived at work on Monday, they saw the barrel about 10 a.m. and swam to retrieve it. As they encountered the container they made the grisly discovery, LASD said.
“It didn’t look decomposed or like it had been there for a long time,” Lt. Hugo Raynaga noted.
The high tide may have carried the barrel from the ocean into the lagoon, officials added.
People using the beach were stunned and “deeply concerned” when they learned of the gruesome discovery.
“It’s something that doesn’t happen very often at all here,” said Ric Collins, who was at the beach on Tuesday morning. “It’s unthinkable.”
Detectives are working to develop clues as well as potential witnesses that will help them identify the victim and solve the disturbing homicide.