Sheriff provides insight into unsolved Compton killings

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau’s Unsolved Unit wants to shed light on two unsolved cases that occurred in August 2001. Investigators in both cases are seeking the public’s assistance in providing any information that may lead to the apprehension and conviction of the suspects involved in these tragic incidents.

The first homicide is of 22-year-old Richard Lawrence. On August 7, 2001, Richard Lawrence was shot and killed while standing in front of the residence at 2011 N. Grape Ave. in Compton, California. This crime was a consequence of an ongoing feud at the time, involving two rival street gangs in the area.

The suspects in Richard Lawrence’s murder were believed to be affiliated with a local Mexican gang. In 2001, witnesses were able to provide descriptions of two Hispanic male suspects involved in the murder. The description provided by these witnesses in 2001 is still relevant today. Additionally, we have included a photo of an older model gray Chevy Caprice, which is not the suspect vehicle but shares similarities with it.

On August 8, 2001, the same neighborhood experienced five separate drive-by shootings that tragically resulted in the unintended double homicide of two-year-old Kali Murphy and her 25-year-old father, Stephen Murphy. These shootings appeared to be acts of retaliation for the murder of Richard Lawrence the previous night.

The first shooting occurred at 13332 Largo Ave, where a male Hispanic adult victim sustained non-life-threatening gunshot wounds to the head and shoulder area. The second shooting took place at 2318 Lucien Street, fortunately without any injuries to the public. However, the violence continued with a third shooting at 13130 Willowbrook Ave. It was here that Stephen and Kali Murphy lost their lives to gunshot wounds to their heads.

The violence did not stop there; the fourth incident occurred at 2014 West 131st St., where a 15-year-old male Hispanic victim sustained a non-life-threatening grazing gunshot wound to the head. Finally, the fifth and final shooting occurred at 1907 North Anzac Avenue, where a Compton deputy sheriff was targeted but was unharmed. The suspect vehicle used in all five shootings was a gold Oldsmobile Cutlass, which deputies seized shortly after the shootings.

The double homicide of Stephen and Kali Murphy was believed to be linked to a local black gang, and witnesses from that fateful night provided descriptions of two male black suspects involved. We have included artist renditions of these suspects based on witness descriptions. Witnesses also mentioned a follow vehicle that trailed behind the gold Oldsmobile Cutlass during the shootings. The vehicle depicted is not the actual vehicle but is similar to the one used that night.

Both the Richard Lawrence and Stephen and Kali Murphy cases were thoroughly investigated in 2001, but unfortunately, no arrests were made, and the cases went cold. In 2019, at the request of family members, both cases were reviewed by the Homicide Bureau’s Unsolved Unit, and the decision was made to reactivate the investigations. This decision was primarily driven by advancements in DNA technology that were not available in 2001.

During the ongoing investigation, significant progress has been achieved in both cases, providing hope that those responsible for these heinous murders will finally be identified and brought to justice.

This progress includes information obtained from individuals with knowledge about these cases, as well as the forthcoming results of current DNA testing, expected to be completed in the very near future.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau Unsolved Unit at (323) 890-5500.

If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP on Google play or the Apple App Store or by using the website

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