Sadistic Southern California Serial Killer Captured Forty Years Later

The Recent Arrest of Billy Ray Richardson Shows Justice Never Forgets

Joni E. Johnston, Psy. D.
5 min readJul 17, 2022


Trina Wilson, image provided by her mother Latasha Thomas

Richard Ramirez. Douglas Clark and Carol Bundy. Lonnie Franklin. William Bonin. Do these names ring a bell?

Southern California was a “hotbed” of serial killers in the 1980s and 1990s. Indeed, the number of active serial killers (captured and not) during those twenty years earned Los Angeles the moniker “serial killer capital of the U.S.” Now we can name another one; Billy Ray Richardson.

On July 15, 2022, Billy Ray Richardson (dob 12/4/46) was charged with four counts of murder and rape. His crimes appear to be sexually motivated.

Richardson is accused of killing 25-year-old Beverly Cruse and 22-year-old Debra Cruse inside Beverly’s west Los Angeles apartment. James had become worried when he couldn’t reach his sisters for several days. He was devastated when he found their nude bodies. Beverly was a USC employee and part-time student, while Debra was working as a receptionist at a local radio station. Detectives believe that Debra had been visiting her sister when the attack occurred.

They had been sexually assaulted and shot in the head three times. There were no viable suspects, and the case quickly went cold.

The Next Kill

Less than four months later, he struck again. On July 26, 1980, fifteen-year-old Palisades High School student Kari Leander (DOB 8/14/1964) was raped and strangled. At the time, investigators had no idea the killer had killed before. But they did have more to go on.

Kari and her best friend, Tina Garfield, were looking forward to their junior year in high school. They were in the middle of planning a sweet sixteen party. Kari was over at Tina’s house and thrilled they had it to themselves; Tina’s parents were out of town.

After drinking some tequila at Tina’s house, they decided to go dancing in Hollywood and began walking with their thumbs stuck out.

They were looking for a ride. A man who said he was Ken from Canada picked them up. Maybe they were…



Joni E. Johnston, Psy. D.

Forensic psychologist/private investigator//author of serial killer book. Passionate about victim’s rights, the psychology of true crime, and criminal justice.