Aspiring Musician Was Discovered in a Barrel in Malibu Lagoon

( – A Los Angeles lifeguard recently made a shocking discovery — a human corpse stuffed inside a floating barrel. The dead man has now been identified as a local musician. However, there’s still no clue as to how he ended up in the water off a popular beach.

Around 3 p.m. on July 30, a maintenance man spotted a 55-gallon barrel floating off Malibu Lagoon State Beach in Los Angeles County, California. He paddled out in his kayak and hauled it ashore, but didn’t look inside. The next morning, a lifeguard saw the same barrel, back in the water. He swam out and brought it ashore as well, then decided the plastic container was suspiciously heavy — so he did look inside. To his surprise, he found the body of a 32-year-old man.

The LA County medical examiner has identified the body as local man Javonnta Murphy. It’s unclear how long Murphy had been in the barrel, but LA County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Lt. Hugo Reynaga said it didn’t look decomposed. He also speculated that the barrel could have been dumped in the ocean somewhere else and brought into Malibu Lagoon by the tide. It’s also likely that a high tide on Sunday evening had floated the grisly load off the beach where the maintenance man had left it.

Murphy’s mother’s 46-year-old boyfriend, Patrick Nelson, said the deceased man, who grew up in South Los Angeles but recently lived alone in Sylmar, had hoped to become a successful rap artist. According to Nelson, Murphy was “a good kid, good person” with no gang connections.

An LAPD source said that because Murphy’s body was naked and the barrel had been sealed, foul play was likely involved. Murphy had a criminal record and had been jailed twice, once in 2017 for battery and domestic violence, then again the following year for violating a protective order linked to his domestic violence conviction.

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