Palmdale triple murder: New details surface about possible motive

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New details have surfaced about a possible motive behind a triple murder in Palmdale, where three family members were killed. (KABC)

New details have surfaced about a possible motive behind a triple murder in Palmdale, where three family members were killed.

Richard Gardner II, 78, his wife Pepper Gardner, 56, and his son Richard Gardner III, 52, were all found dead inside their home in the 1100 block of Avenue N-12 on Jan. 13.

The elder Gardner was bed-ridden, and his wife was his caretaker.

Friends and family gathered Wednesday night and held a candlelight vigil for the victims.

The younger Gardner was best known for riding his bike all over Palmdale, telling jokes and washing windows for a living. His big, humorous heart touched all those who knew him. Loved ones say he was a man who wouldn't let his disadvantages get in his way.

"My brother was a very wonderful person who had a lot of trials in his life that never stopped him. He was so positive," said his sister, Mary Dean-Ronin.

His other sister, Sarah Galvan, flew in from Kansas to pay her respects.

"The outcry and support that the community has given us our friends, our family, is so much appreciated," Galvan said.

The three bodies were discovered on the younger Gardner's birthday. And the day before, homicide detectives say James "Todd" Brown, a man who once lived on the Gardners' property, got angry. Authorities said a disagreement over money may have been brewing.

Authorities named Brown as a person of interest in the homicides last week. Detectives believe that disagreement may have led the 54-year-old to suffocate, stab and kill all three family members.

They also believe Brown may have even killed the family's dogs before fleeing in his 2002 silver Toyota pickup. The vehicle has a camper shell on the back and California license plate #42198C1. Brown may be traveling with his dog, a German shepherd mix.

Brown was someone the family knew for almost two years. He rented a trailer in the back of the family's property while performing odd jobs for them.

"This is pretty tragic when you have three people killed here, and for what, just a dispute over money," said Lt. John Corina with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Detectives warn that anyone trying to warn Brown could be charged with being an accessory to murder. Brown is known to have family and friends that live in the Inland Empire and Antelope Valley.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the sheriff's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.
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