Arrest Made in Murder of Javonnta Murphy — Rapper Found Dead in Barrel

The body of Javonnta Murphy was found in a barrel at a Malibu Beach on July 31, 2023. (Credit: NBC4 Los Angeles)

A suspect has been arrested in connection with the murder of Javonnta Murphy, an aspiring rapper whose body was found in a barrel in Malibu, Calif. over the summer.

Authorities announced the arrest of Joshua Simmons, 37, on Thursday (Oct. 26).

According to KCAL News, Simmons was taken into custody on Oct. 3 and is being held at the Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles.

Simmons is also a suspect in an attempted jewelry store robbery in El Monte, Calif. on Sept. 3. While it’s not immediately clear which crime Simmons was arrested for, he’s been charged with Murphy’s murder and three counts of making criminal threats.

Dennis Vance, 41, a second man has been booked on suspicion of accessory to the murder.

Related: Cause of Death Released for Javonnta Murphy — Man Found Dead in Barrel at Malibu Beach

Javonnta Murphy (Credit: Instagram)
Javonnta Murphy (Credit: Instagram)

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that a motive has not yet been determined, although “both suspects in the case are known to be acquaintances of the victim.”

In July, sanitation workers spotted a 55-gallon drum floating in the water at Malibu Lagoon State Beach but were initially unable to retrieve it, according to the sheriff’s department.

The following morning on July 31, a lifeguard saw the barrel again and brought it to shore. Inside the barrel was the nude body of 32-year-old Javonnta Murphy.

Homicide investigators determined he had been shot and stuffed inside the barrel. According to coroner’s records, Murphy died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Following his death, Murphy’s family demanded justice.

“I’m looking for answers, I want to know what happened to my baby,” Murphy’s father, Javonnie Murphy, told Los Angeles news station NBC 4.

The grieving father told the station he saw his son four days before his body was found. He questioned why anyone would target his son, saying that Javonnta didn’t have any problems with anyone.

The aspiring songwriter and rapper was also the father of a 10-year-old son, his partner Vanetta Smith told ABC7.

A court date for Simmons has been set for Friday, Nov. 3.