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76-Year-Old Man Makes First LA Court Appearance in Four Cold Case Killings

A 76-year-old man who was allegedly linked by DNA evidence to the cold-case killings of a 15-year-old girl and three young women in Los Angeles and Inglewood dating back as far as 1980 made his first appearance Wednesday in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on four murder charges.

Billy Ray Richardson — who appeared in court on a hospital gurney — was ordered to remain jailed without bail while awaiting arraignment Dec. 8.

Richardson was extradited Tuesday from Texas, where he was arrested July 13 after being charged with the killings.

“Investigative and forensic work over decades connected these murders through DNA and linked them to suspect Billy Ray Richardson,” according to a statement released by the Los Angeles Police Department after his arrest.

The murder charges include the special-circumstance allegations of multiple murders, murder during the commission of a rape and murder during the commission of a burglary, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Each of the victims had been raped, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Richardson is charged with the March 6, 1980, killings of 25-year-old Beverly Cruse and 22-year-old Debra Cruse, two sisters who were each shot in the head three times in an apartment in the 3200 block of Overland Avenue in Palms, along with the July 26, 1980, killing of the 15-year-old Kari Lenander, who was strangled in the 3700 block of Victoria Avenue, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

He is also facing a murder charge for the Dec. 31, 1995, slaying of Wilson, 28, whose throat had been slashed in North Park in Inglewood, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Richardson’s identification as the suspect in the killings and his subsequent arrest was the result of a collaborative investigation involving the LAPD, Inglewood Police Department, FBI, Fort Worth Police Department and investigators from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, according to the LAPD.

In a statement announcing the charges in July, District Attorney George Gascón said he wanted to commend “the tenacious and dedicated work of those who helped solve these crimes.”

“I cannot imagine the pain that these families have endured. Their loss is immeasurable,” the county’s top prosecutor added. “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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