Body found inside truck linked to suspect in Palmdale triple homicide


Authorities on Sunday found a body inside a Toyota Tacoma pickup that belonged to a man suspected of killing three people in Palmdale last month.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials could not confirm the identity of the deceased person, but they have been searching for the car’s owner, James “Todd” Brown, for several weeks.

Investigators believe Brown killed a married couple and a son who were found stabbed, beaten and suffocated to death in their Palmdale home. The family’s three dogs had also been killed.


For about two years, Brown lived in a trailer on the family’s two-plus-acre property, paying them rent and completing odd jobs for them. The killings may have stemmed from a dispute over rent, investigators have said.

Authorities went to the Palmdale home on Jan. 13 after the sister of one of the victims became concerned about her brother and called the Sheriff’s Department.

There, investigators found the bodies of Richard Gardner II, 78; his wife, Pepper Gardner, 56; and the man’s son, Richard Gardner III, 52.

Brown was nowhere to be found. Two days later, authorities named him as a person of interest.

Just over a week after that, they announced that Brown was a suspect in the slayings.


Twitter: @AleneTchek