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Fort Worth TX man charged with murder of 4 Los Angeles area women and girls

Miami Herald File

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A North Texas man suspected of killing three women and a teenage girl in California in 1980 and 1995 was arrested in Fort Worth Thursday night.

Billy Ray Richardson, 76, is charged with four counts of first degree murder in connection with the deaths of three Los Angeles victims – Beverly Cruse, 25, Debra Cruse, 22 and Kari Lenander, 15 – in 1980, and the murder of Trina Wilson, of Inglewood, in 1995.

Richardson was identified as a suspect through DNA, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a news release, adding that the 76-year-old is charged under special circumstances with multiple murders and murder in the commission of a rape.

Richardson’s most recent address is a nursing and rehabilitation facility in Keller, according to court records. Public records indicate he previously lived in Haltom City, Fort Worth, and Los Angeles County, California. He does not appear to have a criminal record in Tarrant County.

According to the LA Times, the Cruse sisters were found dead on March 6, 1980 by their brother James, in Beverly’s apartment. Their brother had become concerned after not hearing from his sisters for several days and found their bodies decomposing when he went to the flat to check on them.

Beverly was a University of Southern California employee and part-time student, and Debra was a receptionist at radio station KFI-AM 640, the Times reported.

Lenander, who was raped and strangled, was found in a gutter on July 26, 1980, according to the Times.

Lenander, who lived in Brentwood and was a student at Palisades Charter High School, was staying with her best friend when they decided to hitchhike to Hollywood to go dancing, according to a Los Angeles Times Magazine article published in 2010.

A man who said his name was Ken and was from Canada picked up the two girls, but took them home when Lenander’s friend realized she had been drinking too much , according to the article.

When they arrived at her friend’s house, Lenander said she wanted to stay with the man and “keep partying,” The Times reported. “Just five hours later, Kari’s body was found under a bright moon, one world away from Brentwood,” the magazine article read.

Further information about Wilson’s death was not immediately available.

Los Angeles detectives traveled to Fort Worth Thursday to help arrest Richardson alongside local law enforcement. Richardson is being held in Tarrant County pending extradition to California.

Fort Worth police said their Operations and Surveillance Team, also known as the GHOST Unit, assisted in the arrest. The team was named using the initials of the late Officer Garrett Hull, who was assigned to the unit, before his killing while on duty in 2018.

This story was originally published July 15, 2022 11:39 a.m.

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Jessika Harkay is a breaking news reporter for the Star-Telegram. Jessika is a Baylor grad who joined the Fort Worth team in 2021 after working as a breaking news reporter at the Hartford Courant and interning at the New York Daily News.

Cory E. Barnes

The author Cory E. Barnes