California authorities have cracked a decades-old “cold case” and have arrested a 75- year-old man in connection with a series of brutal rapes and murders, including that of a young girl of only 15!
It was Billy Ray Richardson’s DNA that tied him to the grisly murders of three women and a teen girl. Richardson is accused of killing 25-year-old Beverly Cruse, 22-year-old Debra Cruse, 15-year-old Kari Leander, and 28-year-old Trina Wilson. All four victims were raped, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The Cruse girls and Leander were killed in 1980, while Wilson was killed in 1995, prosecutors said. They accused Richardson of shooting each of the Cruses in the head three times, strangling Leander to death, and slitting Wilson’s throat.
“I want to commend the tenacious and dedicated work of those who helped solve these horrific crimes,” LA County District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement. “I cannot imagine the pain that these families have endured. Their loss is immeasurable. We hope that together we can bring justice to the families who have endured so much and have waited years for this moment.”
Richardson is now charged with four counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances of multiple murders and murder in the commission of rape, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement.
The LAPD added that cracking the case involved “investigative and forensic work” over decades.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Beverly and Debra Cruse’s brother found both of his sisters dead in the bedroom of Beverly’s apartment after not hearing from either of them for several days.
Leander was killed after she and her friend hitchhiked from Brentwood to Hollywood with a man who called himself Ken. Though Ken dropped Leander’s friend back home safely, Leander stayed with Ken to “keep partying.” Her dead body was found just five hours after her friend last saw her, according to the LA Times.
Wilson was slain on Dec. 31, 1995, at Inglewood’s North Park. Her throat had been slashed. Further details on Wilson’s death have not been made available, although police say that, like Richardson’s other victims, she had been raped, and he had left his DNA at the scene of the crime.
Richardson was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and is being extradited to Los Angeles to stand trial, police said. Publicly available court records didn’t detail whether Richardson has a lawyer.