A Haunting Murder in San Francisco

Let’s face it: Most of my cases are snoresville. Party A ran over Party B; Bouncer A might have punched Patron B, or Driver A collided with Driver B. At times I feel like an insurance adjuster.

The longer I do this work the more it takes for a case to linger in my brain. The one with staying power though is the case of Gary Murphy, a man I followed who was later assassinated in a San Francisco half-way house in June 1998.

The case served as a wake up call for me to screen my clients better. I was green at the time, and it was my first doozy of a caper. A woman, Bonnie Ford, hired me to follow and get the goods on the father of her grandchild in a nasty child custody case. I brought in a more senior, and notorious private eye, John Nazarian to help with the client and the case.

What a nightmare of a client, a nightmare of a case. I learned Gary Murphy had been murdered about three months after I stopped working for Ms. Ford. I had a little solace because Murphy was killed in a place where I had previously not tracked him to, and therefore my client did not know about it from me. I also later found out that my client had a restraining order against her.

Investigative reporter A.C. Thompson, formerly of the Bay Guardian, did a great job reporting the story. Check it out at http://www.sfbg.com/38/22/cover_murphy.html

It was a wild case. Nazarian received the bulk of the payment for the case, paid to us in a Ritz cracker box pulled from the freezer and stuffed with cash, about $15,000. The last I heard, my former client had gone back to Canada. It also bothered me that San Francisco police did not do much. I recall talking to people involved in the case who had not even been interviewed by police. Nazarian and I had each other, protecting us from the scrutiny of cops after we voluntarily went to police to give statements.