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By: Andrea Yan

Last Thursday, Billy Ray Richardson was charged with the murders of Kari Lenander, Beverly Cruse, and Debra Cruse in 1980, and Trina Wilson in 1995. Richardson is also suspected of raping those four women. Law enforcement officers from California have traveled to Fort Worth to arrest Richardson.

Los Angeles district attorney George Gascon expressed his thanks for the work of those that led to the arrest. He said “we hope that together we can bring justice to the families who have endured so much and have waited years for this moment.”

On the night of July 28th, 1980, the day Lenander was murdered, she and her best friend went dancing and hitchhiked on the way back. It was previously thought that they were picked up by a white man, who claimed his name was Ken and that he was visiting from Canada. Her best friend got dropped off, and they separated at around 10pm when Lenander was alone with Ken. Her body was found 5 hours later in a South Los Angeles neighborhood.

The turning point in the case was in the mid-2000s, when DNA profiling proved that the man who picked the two girls up was not white, but rather Black. Detective Tim Marcia of the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) said that “the information limited the direction I needed to go. Instead of having one big, whole pie, I got it down to a quarter of the pie.” This crucial breakthrough ultimately led detectives to solve a mystery that, for four decades, was unsolved.

A couple months before the murder of Lenander, Beverly and Debra Cruse’s naked bodies were found on March 5th 1980 by their brother in a West Los Angeles apartment. This led police to believe the crimes were sexually motivated. Then, fifteen years later, Tina Wilson was found on December 31st, 1995 near a park in Inglewood. As of Friday, the details of her death are unclear.

Richardson is waiting to be transported to California for his trial and sentence. These cases of murder show how important science is to society. Science can bring justice to families who have suffered for almost have a decade.

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