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Search for Palmdale murder suspect


Sheriff’s officials this week said a “person of interest” in the killings of three family members found dead inside a home in Palmdale is now considered a murder suspect.

No information has been released on what may have led to the killings, but 54-year-old James “Todd” Brown “was living on the property for at least one or two years,” according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Homicide detectives have gathered new information and evidence that leads them to suspect Brown killed the victims. The bodies of 72-year-old Richard Gardner II, 56-year-old Pepper Gardner and 52-year-old Richard Gardner III were discovered about 3:50 p.m. Saturday in the 1100 block of West Avenue N-12, according to the sheriff’s department.

A family member asked for a welfare check of the home and upon entering the residence, deputies found the body of a man, then two more victims in another room. All had suffered traumatic injuries, according to the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.

Also being sought is Brown’s silver 2002 Toyota pickup truck with a camper shell and the California license plate 42198C1.

“Detectives have confirmed the vehicle is registered to Mr. Brown,” officials said. “Neighbors, family and friends have informed detectives that it is the vehicle Mr. Brown typically drives.” Brown has family members and friends who live in the Inland Empire and Antelope Valley, according to the sheriff’s department.

The change of Brown’s status from person of interest to wanted suspect came as a vigil was held for Richard Gardner III, a deliveryman who was well-regarded in the community.

Anyone with information that could help investigators locate him was urged to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500 to speak with Sgt. Eric Arias or Detective Gail Durham.

Anonymous tips can be submitted through Crime Stoppers by calling (800) 222-TIPS.