California Man Jailed for 11 Years in Killing of Woman Whose Body Was Found Hidden in Wall

October 9, 2019 Updated: October 9, 2019

A California man has been sentenced to 11 years behind bars for killing a former roommate whose body was found hidden in a wall years after she vanished.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement that 47-year-old Randolph E. Garbutt pleaded guilty last month to one felony count of voluntary manslaughter in connection with Raven Campbell’s death.

Campbell’s body was found in July 2015 behind a wall at a complex in Lomita, a city in Los Angeles County, California, prosecutors said. She had been missing since June 2009.

Officials determined Campbell died of blunt-force trauma.

Campbell’s body was found behind a wall at a complex in Lomita, California, in 2015. (Google Maps)

A detective received a tip that Campbell’s remains were in the wall of an apartment in a public housing complex where she lived with Garbutt, KTLA reported, citing officials.

“To place her in a wall, the irony is this man will probably only do about as much time as she was while she was in the wall,” Raven Campbell’s sister, Cynthia Campbell Kemp, said in court, the Daily Breeze reported. “That’s the crime. The punishment is not just, but we’re just going to have to accept it.”

Garbutt has received credit for more than four years of his 11-year sentence, which was the result of a Sept. 12 plea deal. He has been in custody since Feb. 4, 2016.

Citing testimony during a preliminary hearing, the Daily Breeze reported that Garbutt hit Campbell over the head with a hammer, wrapped her body in plastic, and then buried her in a makeshift grave behind the wall of a closet.

Violent Crime in the United States

Violent crime in the United States fell by just over 3 percent between 2017 and 2018, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), which is based on crimes reported to the police.

However, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) (pdf), which is based on self-reported victim surveys administered annually, the rate of violent crime in the United States remained essentially unchanged between 2017 and 2018.

BJS Figures

According to the NCVS, the number of U.S. residents age 12 or older who were victims of violent crime increased between 2015 and 2018.

“The increase from 2015 to 2018 in the number of violent-crime victims age 12 or older, from 2.7 million to 3.3 million, was driven by increases in the number of victims of rape or sexual assault, aggravated assault, and simple assault,” the BJS said.

Percent of U.S. residents age 12 or older who were victims of violent crime, 1993-2018. (BJS)

Further, BJS figures show that while more people have reported being victims of violent crimes in recent years, the portion of those who report having been victims of serious crimes overall has fallen. The BJS defines serious crimes are those that are generally prosecuted as felonies, including the majority of completed or attempted violent crimes with the exception of simple assault. Also classified as serious crimes are completed burglaries and motor vehicle thefts.

Between 2014 to 2018, the portion of U.S. residents age 12 or older who reported being victims of serious crimes fell from 1.89 percent to 1.68 percent. According to BJS, this drop was driven by a decline in completed burglaries.

Percent of U.S. residents age 12 or older who were victims of total serious, serious violent, and serious property crime, 1993-2018. (BJS)

FBI Stats

In 2018, an estimated 1,206,836 violent crimes occurred nationwide, FBI figures show, which represents a year-on-year decrease of 3.3 percent. Violent crimes are defined within the UCR Program as offenses that involve force or threat of force. They consist of four offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

When considering longer-term trends across 5- and 10-year periods, violent crime in 2018 was 4.7 percent higher than in 2014, but 9.0 percent lower than in 2009.

Violent crime figures for the period 2014-2018, based on crimes reported to the police. (FBI UCR)

Further, FBI data shows that in 2018, the estimated number of murders in the United States was 16,214, which was a 6.2 percent drop from 2017 but a 14.5 percent rise from 2014.

The FBI figures also found there were 5.0 murders per 100,000 people in the U.S. in 2018. By comparison, according to United Nations homicide statistics, the murder rate per 100,000 in Japan last year was 0.28, in Canada 1.68, and in Russia 10.82. The highest murder rate was in El Salvador (82.84), followed by Honduras (56.52), and the United States Virgin Islands (49.26).

Considering violent crime rates over a longer time span, the FBI data shows (pdf) that the rate of offenses that involve force or threat of force fell by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017.

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