The alleged accidental death of a Los Angeles actor and director is being called into question by his widow and a team of experts.
On Sept. 19, 2017, Jason Murphy, 34, attended a screening in North Hollywood for the movie “From Jennifer,” in which he played a role. Afterward, he made an appearance at a party for the cast and crew of the film.
Around 2:00 a.m. the following morning, Murphy was found dead in the Los Angeles River in Elysian Park, northeast of downtown. His body was lying in three inches of water at the base of a 33-foot concrete wall.
The coroner’s medical examination noted bruises on Murphy’s forehead, face, thighs, knees, and foot, in addition to a black eye, a herniated diaphragm, and several lacerations on his hand that appeared to indicate contact with barbed wire. The report also stated that Murphy’s blood-alcohol concentration was 0.23 percent.
“A possible proposed scenario was that Mr. Murphy was pushed or dropped from the top of the wall or the road above, but the lack of significant trauma is not supportive of this scenario,” the coroner’s report concluded, according to the Los Angeles Times. “The manner of death is accident.”
However, Murphy’s window, Dina Gregg, believes otherwise.
The initial red flag that presented itself to Gregg was the fact that her husband’s cell phone was missing and has yet to be recovered. Since the cellular carrier only stores data for one year, any potential evidence from the cell phone has since been lost.
Adam Bercovici, a retired LAPD lieutenant who now works as the lead private investigator, owner and manager of the investigative company Titan National, believes that this is merely one aspect of the “shoddy work” conducted by LAPD’s Northeast Division.
“I know for a fact that the LAPD is deeply embarrassed by the work that was done by the Northeast Division,” Bercovici told The Epoch Times
Bercovici said the missing cell phone was a “key piece of evidence” and explained that “there is a unit that has millions of dollars of equipment that specifically does cell phone work.”
“I guarantee you if Jason had been a famous actor that unit would have been dispatched immediately, along with detectives,” Bercovici said. “As the former lieutenant on LAPD who worked Robbery-Homicide Division, this angers me, because it is proof that in LA you have to have money or be famous to get your death investigated properly.”
Authorities involved in the case may have failed to follow the appropriate protocol. Normally, when the watch commander is notified of a death that is suspicious in any manner, it is their duty to notify on-call homicide detectives. At that point, a decision is made regarding whether the detectives should come in or not.
In Murphy’s case, the watch commander and officers on the scene never notified the detectives at all.
“The protocol is well-established and outlined in the Department Manual,” said Bercovici, whose 30-year career includes working as a uniform patrol watch commander in Van Nuys and North Hollywood, divisions that he describes as being “very busy.”
The robbery-homicide detective currently conducting an analysis of the case told Bercovici that the patrol officers presumed Murphy’s death was a suicide, which then prompted the coroner to accept it as fact.
“The watch commander left it to the discretion of the field officers and possibly a sergeant,” Bercovici said. “In these types of incidents, this is not done.”
Bercovici said Doreen Hudson, a former Commanding Officer of LAPD/LA Sheriffs Crime Lab and member of Bercovici’s team, noted that the coroner completed a “less than competent field investigation.”
For her part, Gregg merely wants answers and has come up against constant pushback as a result of her quest for closure.
“All I want is to know what happened to my husband that night,” Gregg told The Epoch Times. “It’s a simple request to ask the authorities and public servants to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.”
“What’s happened over the past two years is a charade of negligence, lies, coverups, attacks on my character and Jason’s, gaslighting, bullying and intimidation used to get me to back down. I am not backing down. We are seeing this through.”
In addition to the botched investigation, Gregg said she was not treated in a respectful manner.
“When Dina pushed LAPD Northeast to do their job, they victim shamed her,” Bercovici said. “They became enraged at her and bullied her at a council meeting where the case was supposed to be discussed. I interviewed witnesses who were present, and it is unbelievable that the widow of a victim was treated this way.”
“I am up against the ego of an organization who prides itself on being the best,” Gregg said. “But they delivered the worst possible service to me.”
When The Epoch Times reached out to the LA Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner for comment, Sarah Ardalani, the Public Information Officer, echoed the same statement issued to the Los Angeles Times earlier this month, reiterating that, “We are confident in our findings and the determination made by Dr. Miller.”
LAPD Deputy Chief Robert Green did not respond to requests for comments.
Gregg has established a GoFundMe campaign to assist in the investigation into her husband’s death.
“Eventually — without or without the city and county’s cooperation — one day I will know what happened to my husband on his walk home from the train that night,” she said. “I will have closure.”