Nathan Alan Morgan, 25, was found beaten to death and buried under a mound of sand on Venice Beach on the morning of March 10, 2008. More than a year later, police still don't know who killed him or why.
Just hours before his battered body was found in the area where the Venice Beach drum circle is performed, Morgan had been treated in Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center's emergency room for an injury to his left elbow. Coroner's records show that he told hospital officials he had hurt himself while "doing gymnastics drunk."
He was visiting Venice from Portland, Ore., where he'd been working as a telemarketer, his parents said. The Morgans, who still live in the small farming town of Wauseon, Ohio, where their son grew up, said he had struggled with drugs and alcohol since his late teens.
"It was an up-and-down battle for him," said Richard Morgan, 49. "When he was clean and sober, he was a great kid. Sometimes people can't get out from underneath it, and they relapse. If he could have gotten control of that, he could be alive."
They have asked the public for help finding their son's killer or killers, publishing photos found on a disposable camera Nathan Morgan had used in the days before his death on his memorial website, www.. They hope someone might recognize the images and come forward with information.
Morgan's parents had not seen him since September 2007, communicating mainly through text messages and MySpace and Facebook. A few weeks before he was killed, his mother, Susan, received a text saying he would be in touch. She never heard from him again.
"That weekend I felt in my gut that there was something wrong. . . . I can't explain it," she said. "It was a couple days later that we found out he had died."
Autopsy records indicate Morgan was severely beaten in the neck, chest and legs. His eyes and upper lip were swollen, and his nose and throat had been packed with sand. He was beaten near the boardwalk, then dragged to the area where he was found and covered with sand, according to the report.
According to toxicology results, Morgan's blood-alcohol level was 0.27% at the time of his death. He also had marijuana in his system. Records show that he was wanted in Ohio and had arrest records for theft and drug possession.
Los Angeles Police Det. Luis Carranza said he is still investigating the homicide and could not discuss details of the case.
"My only hope is that one day we can bring closure to this case and find out what happened," he said.
In January, Richard and Susan Morgan came to Los Angeles to try to learn more about their son's death.
"If I had known before then how it would make me feel, I would have done it sooner," Richard Morgan said.
They looked at the place where their son was killed, spoke to the detectives on his case and wandered the boardwalk, asking people if they remembered Nathan and if they knew what had happened to him.
"When I went there I knew I was walking in the place my son spent the last hours of his life," Susan Morgan said. "I was hoping someone would remember him. . . . We didn't find that person, but it was healing walking where he walked."
Anyone with information Nathan Morgan's killing is asked to call LAPD Pacific Division homicide detectives at (310) 482-6316.