Texas man arrested in connection with 4 L.A.-area cold-case killings dating to 1980

A police officer walks into the Los Angeles Police Department building
Detectives from the Los Angeles and Inglewood police departments arrested a 76-year-old man in Fort Worth in connection with four killings from 1980 and 1995, LAPD officials said.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

A Texas man has been arrested in connection with four cold-case homicides from Los Angeles and Inglewood dating as far back as 1980, authorities said Thursday night.

Detectives from the Los Angeles and Inglewood police departments traveled to Fort Worth, where they arrested 76-year-old Billy Ray Richardson with assistance from the Fort Worth Police Department’s Ghost Unit, LAPD officials said.

Richardson is suspected in the 1980 killings of Beverly Cruse, Debra Cruse and Kari Lenander in Los Angeles, and in the 1995 slaying of Trina Wilson in Inglewood, according to the LAPD.


He was in custody Thursday night pending extradition to Los Angeles, police said.

“Investigative and forensic work over decades connected these murders through DNA and linked them to [the] suspect,” police said.

Authorities presented the case against Richardson to the L.A. County district attorney’s office, which filed four counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances of multiple murders and murder in the commission of rape, police said.

Beverly and Debra Cruse were found dead by their brother, James, in the bedroom of Beverly’s apartment in Palms, according to a Times article published March 6, 1980.

James had become concerned after he hadn’t heard from his sisters for several days and went to the apartment in the 3200 block of Overland Avenue to investigate.

Beverly, 25, was a USC employee and part-time student. Police believed Debra, a 22-year-old receptionist at KFI-AM 640, was visiting when they were killed.


“Investigators said both young women had been murdered, but there were no obvious wounds on their bodies, which were decomposing,” The Times reported.

Stan Brown, a KFI newscaster, told The Times in 1980 that Debra worked at the station part-time and was hired through a temporary staffing agency.

“She seemed to be a pleasant young lady,” Brown told The Times. “Pleasant and full of life.”

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Nearly five months later, Kari Lenander, 15, was found raped and strangled, her body dumped in a gutter in South L.A., according to a Los Angeles Times Magazine story published April 4, 2010.

An LAPD bulletin from 2012 calling for the public’s help to solve the cold case said that she was found July 26, 1980, in the 3700 block of Victoria Avenue.

A resident of Brentwood and student at Palisades Charter High School, Kari was at the home of her best friend, Toni Garfield, preparing for a sweet-16 party, according to the 2010 article.

Toni’s parents were out of town, and the girls were drinking tequila. Eventually, they decided to go out dancing in Hollywood and began hitchhiking at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Barrington Avenue.

The girls were picked up by a man who said that his name was Ken and that he was visiting from Canada. The three got to Hollywood and stopped to use the bathroom when Toni realized she had too much to drink, according to the article.

The man calling himself Ken agreed to drive Toni back to Brentwood, but when they arrived at her home, Kari said she wanted to stay with him and “keep partying.”

“It was about 10 p.m. when the girls said goodbye outside Toni’s house,” the story stated. “Just five hours later, Kari’s body was found under a brightly shining moon, a world away from Brentwood.”

Information on the circumstances surrounding Trina Wilson’s death was not available Thursday night.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division Det. Mitzi Roberts at (213) 486-6810.

Those calling after hours or on weekends should call 1-877-527-3247.

Anonymous tips can be submitted through L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, or by visiting