Singer-Songwriter Javonnta Murphy’s Family Demands Answers After His Body Was Found in Barrel

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

The family of aspiring singer-songwriter Javonnta Murphy is calling for justice after the 32-year-old man’s body was found in a barrel at a beach in Malibu, Calif.

On Monday, July 31, lifeguards spotted a 55-gallon plastic barrel floating in a lagoon at Malibu State Park. When they opened it, there was a man’s nude body inside. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office identified the remains on Wednesday.

After receiving the devastating news that his son was dead, Javonnie Murphy spoke with Los Angeles news station NBC 4.

“I’m looking for answers, I want to know what happened to my baby,” he said.

Javonnie told the station he saw his son four days before the body was found. He said Javonnta didn’t have problems with anyone and the grieving father doesn’t know who would have targeted his son.

“They were trying to get rid of him. They put him in a thing like that and threw him in the ocean,” he  said.

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Meantime Vanetta Smith, Javonnta’s partner, talked to TV station ABC7.

“I’m still trying to process who could do this more than anything because this seems personal. This seems like a vendetta,” Smith said in a story published Friday.

Smith has a 10-year-old son with Murphy named Marley. She said Murphy took Marley to basketball practice shortly before he died.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account to go toward Murphy’s funeral expenses and to help care for his son.

Coroner’s online records list Murphy’s manner of death as homicide. As of Friday afternoon, no cause of death had been released.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told Urban Hollywood 411 on Friday that homicide detectives are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding Murphy’s death.

No arrests have been made in the case.

The Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau asked anyone with information to give them a call at 323-890-5500. Anonymous callers may call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or send tips to