Third man charged in two slayings
A student at a Christian liberal arts college on Friday was the third young man to be charged in connection with the May killings of two members of an Anaheim Hills family and the near-fatal bludgeoning of a third.
Charles Anthony Murphy Jr., 22, of Mission Hills faces two counts of murder and one of attempted murder. Special-circumstances allegations of murder during a kidnapping and committing multiple murders could make Murphy, if convicted, eligible for the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Murphy’s arraignment was postponed to Aug. 24 in Santa Ana during a minutes-long hearing at the North Justice Center in Fullerton.
About a half-dozen relatives crowded into the courtroom, with one woman running into the hallway sobbing when Murphy’s case was called.
Murphy was being held in custody without bail. His attorney at the hearing, Carrie Foglesong, said Beverly Hills attorney Robert Nadler would represent him. Nadler did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Police this week also announced that they had found in Los Angeles County a light gold 2004 Honda Odyssey they believe was used in the string of crimes and were analyzing it for evidence.
According to Murphy’s Facebook.com page, he was born in Northridge and graduated from Chatsworth High School in 2003. He played basketball from ninth to 11th grade, took honors English and biology and had a 2.4 GPA, the school said.
Murphy listed basketball, hip-hop, the quote “Impossible Is Nothing” and the book “The Little Engine That Could” as favorites on his Facebook page. “I like chill and have fun, play basketball, very intense at wat i do,” he wrote. “always smiling, takes a lot 4 me 2 get mad.”
He was studying communications at Concordia University in Irvine, a Lutheran college, his Facebook page said. It was unclear whether he was currently enrolled; school officials did not return calls seeking comment.
Murphy also worked as a part-time sales associate at the Irvine Spectrum’s Adidas store.
He had played basketball at Concordia but quit because he didn’t like it anymore, said a student who knew Murphy and asked not to be named.
Murphy and another man pleaded guilty in 2005 to misdemeanor grand theft. They had stolen more than $400 in money and property from a Target, according to documents filed in Orange County Superior Court. Murphy completed some of his required community service at William R. Mason Regional Park in Irvine, which abuts Concordia University.
In the predawn hours of May 22, the burned bodies of Jayprakash Dhanak, 56, and his daughter, 20, Karishma, were discovered at the park, just steps from a Concordia entrance. Wife and mother Leela Dhanak, 53, had earlier been found severely beaten outside the family home, which had been set on fire.
The Dhanaks’ younger daughter, Shayona, was at UC Irvine during the crimes and was unharmed. Days later, her former boyfriend, Iftekhar Murtaza, 22, of Van Nuys, was taken into custody at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. He was carrying a ticket to Bangladesh.
The young couple had broken up several weeks before the slayings, partly because her Hindu family had long frowned on her dating a Muslim, court papers said. Murtaza’s cellphone was used near the crime scene an hour or so before the house fire, according to court records, though Murtaza told authorities he wasn’t in Anaheim Hills that night.
Authorities described Murphy as Murtaza’s friend. On Aug. 10, Murtaza and another of his friends, Vitaliy Krasnoperov, 21, of West Hollywood, each pleaded not guilty to the same charges filed against Murphy. Krasnoperov, who was arrested in June, told friends that during the Anaheim Hills crimes, he was at home recovering from a motorcycle accident in which he broke his right wrist in three places.
Times researcher John Jackson contributed to this report.