Man killed woman with hammer, hid body in apartment wall, prosecutors say

The roommate of a woman whose remains were found behind a wall in Lomita last year has been charged in her death, Los Angeles County prosecutors said Monday.

Randolph Garbutt, 43, was arrested last week on suspicion of killing Raven Joy Campbell, 37, with a hammer in 2009. He is charged with murder and a special circumstance of using a dangerous weapon, and is scheduled to be arraigned March 1.

In December 2008, Campbell moved into an apartment at the Harbor Hill Housing Project with a high school friend and her boyfriend, said L.A. County sheriff's Lt. Steve Jauch. Sometime in the following six months, Garbutt also moved into the apartment, Jauch said.

In July 2009, Campbell’s family members reported her missing to Lomita police after they discovered her purse at the residence.

“She had a tic ... and that was not leaving her purse,” Malaikah Manasseh, Campbell’s sister, told The Times. Her sister, she said, always had her purse strapped against her chest.

A subsequent investigation failed to turn up leads in her disappearance.

Last June, detectives received a tip that human remains were inside a wall of the apartment. The following month, sheriff’s deputies searched the residence, which was occupied by another family, and found repaired drywall behind the stairs.

Behind the wall, detectives discovered a hollow space in the floor where cadaver dogs located human remains. Coroner’s officials identified the remains as those of Campbell.

Deputies did not release information on the killing or Campbell's relationship to the suspect. Prosecutors said Campbell’s death was the result of blunt-force trauma to the head.

If convicted, Garbutt faces up to life in state prison.

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Times staff writer Jerome Campbell contributed to this report.

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