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Suspect arrested in death of woman whose remains were found behind a wall in a Lomita apartment

Suspect arrested in death of woman whose remains were found behind a wall in a Lomita apartment
L.A. County sheriff's Lt. Steve Jauch holds a news conference Friday to announce the arrest of a suspect in the death of Raven Joy Campbell, whose remains were found in a wall at a Lomita residence. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies announced an arrest Friday in the death of a woman whose remains were found behind a wall in a Lomita residence last year.

Randolph Garbutt, 43, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of murder in the death of Raven Joy Campbell, 37, sheriff's Lt. Steve Jauch said.

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The arrest came as Garbutt was about to leave a courthouse after he was apprehended on an outstanding traffic warrant. He was released on time served in the traffic case, but homicide detectives took him into custody in the slaying case.

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

Los Angeles County Sheriff homicide detectives and officials from the L.A. County coroner's office remove human remains from an apartment in the Harbor Hills Housing Project in Lomita. The remains were of Raven Campbell.
Los Angeles County Sheriff homicide detectives and officials from the L.A. County coroner's office remove human remains from an apartment in the Harbor Hills Housing Project in Lomita. The remains were of Raven Campbell. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

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 in 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 a 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. Jauch said the death was the result of blunt-force trauma.

Deputies said the case for murder charges against Garbutt will be presented to the district attorney's office Monday.

Follow Jerome Campbell on Twitter: @jeromercampbell

Times staff writers Sarah Parvini and Joseph Serna contributed to this report.

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