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A Texas Senior is Charged with the Murder of Four Women From 40 Years Ago

By: Sarah Wang

A 40-year cold murder case was solved last Saturday when Billy Ray Richardson, 75, was arrested in Texas. DNA evidence from as far back as the 1980s helped the authorities crack the case of the murder and sexual assault of four women.

Richardson was arrested for the murders of Kari Lenander, sisters Beverly and Debra Cruse in 1980, and Trina Wilson in 1995. He was charged with four counts of murder and is currently locked in Tarrant County Jail in Texas. DNA led detectives to Mr. Richardson, although how the authorities got the DNA is unknown.

In 1980, authorities found the body of 15-year-old Kari Lenander in a South Los Angeles neighborhood. She was murdered and raped by the killer. The case was cold until 2001 when it was reopened for investigation.

The night she was murdered, Ms. Lenander was out partying with her friend Tori Garfield when they decided to hitchhike back home. They were supposedly picked up by a white man from Canada named Ken. Ms. Garfield made it home by 10 p.m. but Ms. Lenander didn’t. She wanted to “keep partying” with Ken. Her body was found five hours later.

In the mid-2000s, DNA discoveries found that the suspect was black, not white. It is believed this played a key factor in identifying Mr. Richardson as the killer, who is black.

“That information limited the direction I needed to go,” said Detective Tim Marcia of the LAPD. “Instead of having one big, whole pie, I got it down to a quarter of the pie.”

There were attempts to reach the surviving family members of the victims. However, none were successful.

“I cannot imagine the pain that these families have endured,” said LA attorney George Gascón. “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.”

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