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-- Megan Garvey and Anthony Pesce

Dispatch: 'I felt in my gut that there was something wrong... I can't explain it'

August 21, 2009 | 10:41 am
The area at Venice Beach where Nathan Morgan was found beaten and half buried in the sand in March 2008. Credit: Anthony Pesce / Los Angeles Times.
Nathan Alan Morgan, a 25-year-old white man, was found beaten to death and buried under a mound of sand shortly before 8 a.m. on March 10, 2008. Morgan’s battered body was discovered by a Parks and Recreation employee in an area of Venice Beach known as the drum circle.  Paramedics called to the scene pronounced him dead.
More than a year after his killing, the circumstances surrounding his death remain hazy.

Morgan's body was discovered just hours after he had been treated in Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center's emergency room for an injury to his left elbow. Coroner’s records show that he told hospital officials he had hurt himself while “doing gymnastics drunk.”

Nathan Morgan, who was found beaten to death March 10, 2008 in Venice. Credit: Family photo After his death, Morgan's parents learned he had traveled to Los Angeles from Portland, Ore., arriving in Southern California a few days before he was beaten to death.

His parents, who still live in the small farming town of Wauseon, Ohio, where their son grew up, said they raised him as a Christian. When Morgan was younger he would go to jails to speak to inmates about his faith and what it had done for him, said Richard Morgan, 49.

The Morgans said their son had worked a series of odd jobs since graduating from high school. He moved to Indiana, where he had a job making fiberglass swimming pools, he also worked in a steel mill and once had a job manufacturing car parts. At times he lived with his twin sister.

For several years, Nathan Morgan had worked as a telemarketer, traveling from Toledo, Ohio, to Atlantic City, then to Portland. His most recent job was selling magazine subscriptions.
"He moved around a lot," said his mother, Susan. "He wanted to see the world, he was always a free spirit."

Every time he would visit a new place he would save a rock to give to his grandmother, a collection that she treasured deeply.
By his late teens, however, his parents said Morgan had developed a drug and alcohol addiction. They acknowledge that his substance abuse could have played a part in his death.

“Nathan did have a drug and alcohol problem; it was an up and down battle for him,” his father said.  “When he was clean and sober he was a great kid. Sometimes people can’t get out from underneath it, and they relapse. If he could have gotten control of that he could be alive.”
Photo of Nathan Morgan, left, sitting with an unidentified man in a limousine. Credit: Courtesy of Richard and Susan Morgan.

Richard said he believed his son could overcome his problems because he too had struggled with addiction at the same age. Faith, he said, helped him turn his life around.

Location near where Morgan's body was found on the beach. Click to learn about the demographics of this area The Morgans said they did not know what brought their son to Venice Beach. In the period leading up to his death, they had communicated with their only son largely through text messages, Facebook and MySpace.

After he was killed, his parents learned that Morgan had stopped in Las Vegas to pick up Robert Northington, a friend from Toledo, Ohio, before continuing on to California. Morgan and Northington shared a hotel room for at least several days before Morgan's body was found in the sand, they said.

Richard Morgan said he did not know whether Northington had information about his son's killing. In June, Northington was struck and killed by a train in Toledo in what local law enforcement officials described as a suicide. [Richard Morgan said he had been told that Northington had been battling cancer at the time of his death.]
Morgan's parents had not seen him since September of 2007. A few weeks before he was killed, his mother had received a text saying he would be in touch. She never heard from him again.
“That weekend I felt in my gut that there was something wrong….I can’t explain it,” she said. “It was a couple days later that we found out he had died.”
Autopsy records indicate Morgan was severely beaten in the neck, chest and legs. His eyes and upper lip were swollen, and his nose and throat had been packed with sand. He was beaten near the boardwalk, then dragged to the area where he was found and covered with sand, according to the report.
According to toxicology results, Morgan's blood-alcohol level was 0.27%  at the time of his death. He also had marijuana in his system. Records also show that he was wanted in Ohio and had arrest records for theft and drug possession.
LAPD Det. Luis Carranza said he is still investigating the homicide and could not discuss details of the case. 
"My only hope is that one day we can bring closure to this case and find out what happened," he said.
In January, Richard and Susan Morgan came to Los Angeles to try to learn more about their son's death.

"We didn't fly out to L.A. right away," Richard Morgan said. "It was a very healing process. If I had known before then how it would make me feel I would have done it sooner."
They looked at the place where their son was killed, spoke to the detectives on his case and wandered the boardwalk, asking people if they remembered Nathan and if they knew what had happened to him.
"When I went there I knew I was walking in the place my son spent the last hours of his life," Susan Morgan said. “I was hoping someone would remember him... We didn't find that person, but it was healing walking where he walked."

Richard and Susan Morgan have created a website commemorating their son at, where they have posted photos recovered from a disposable camera taken in the time leading up to their son's death. They have asked anyone with information about their son's killing to contact them through their website or to call LAPD Pacific Division homicide detectives at (310) 482-6316.

-- Anthony Pesce in Venice

Photos: The area at Venice Beach where Nathan Morgan was found beaten and half buried in the sand in March 2008. Credit: Anthony Pesce / Los Angeles Times.

Nathan Alan Morgan, a 25-year-old white man who was beaten to death at Venice Beach in March 2008. Credit: Family Photo

Nathan Morgan sitting with an unidentified man in a limousine, one of numerous pictures recovered from a disposable camera found by detectives. The photo, and others, has been placed at by his parents. Credit: Courtesy of Richard and Susan Morgan.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Comments (11)

How is it possible that there is no security video camera footage of this? Even local news stations have cameras posted at Venice just for their weather. No local boardwalk business had a security camera pointed at the boardwalk to see who took him? Knowing Venice and the boardwalk businesses - this seems impossible.

One of the readers who commented on the original March 2008 post said that there was video surveillance footage turned over to authorities that showed part of the attack. You can find the link to that post on Morgan's name in the first sentence of this dispatch. Still, no arrests have yet been made in connection with the homicide. Police did not comment this week on whether they had identified suspects in Morgan's killing, although Det. Carranza said there had been some developments in the case.

Megan Garvey
Los Angeles Times

I don't like this article about my twin brother. It makes him out to look like a bad person. Nathan was a very smart young man who DID NOT deserve what happened to him on March 10, 2008. Everyone goes through life with some kind of struggles, some are more severe than others but that doesn't make it right to take another persons life. Nathan will always be remember for his awesome talent of the way he could ride an ATV. My 5 1/2 yr old son always looked up to his only Uncle. He is so much like Nathan in that aspect. I hope that people who read this article get more out of it than just a kid in trouble with the law who had an addiction problem, because there is a whole other side of Nathan to know.

About that surveillance tape, it pictures a young man being beaten by several other young men, up to five, with a couple of girls looking on. That is how Nathan's beating was described by "Raven" in one of the first postings in 2008. She was there and that is what she described. However, the police have said it was a different beating, same place, same night, same time period, same amount of people, but not Nathan's. Now does that ring absurd to anyone besides me? Also, the man in black in the picture with Nathan (in white hat) is Rob Northinton, not an unidentified man. He is the one who "stepped in front of the train". Lot's of people battle cancer. What other demons was Rob battling? If anyone has remained silent out of fear of repercussion from him, he is out of the picture. We urge you to contact the police, or Nathan's family, with anything you saw, heard, or know about the killing, regardless of how small and unimportant you may think it is.

The "Venice Beach Drum Circle" is a gathering of people from all backgrounds of life where they gather around a circle with some sort of drum or instrument and dance away from all their troubles, fears and problems. It's a place where you leave your ordinary lives behind. It's a place where drug use and alcohol is a abundant. Most of these people are trouble. It's a community of people under the influence of everything. Alot of these people are regulars. The "Venice beach drum circle" comes to life at nite and does not end till dawn. It is about 100 yards from shore. It is a good distance from the boardwalk. Police survey the area from a distance because they know what awaits them. It is a place where you don't go to alone. I know this because in the mid 90's I would go there often, although never alone, not in the night of course. Someone must had seen something. My guess is that he was lured away from the circle and then beaten. I was also a lost soul like this gentleman in my life. I thank god I saved myself from there. The "Venice beach drum circle" takes you away to a world where there are no rules and laws. If you have no business there don't go there. My condolences go out to his family. God bless you. I am sure he was a great man. Unfortunately he came across evil people before he could save himself.

I agree with Carlos about the Venice Beach Drum Circle. I have been there once with a friend who used to play the drums on Venice Beach during the day. She grew up on the streets, she is "street wise" and one tough cookie. However, when the sun began to sink, she hurried us all along, packed us up, and got us out of there. It is not a place to be at night. As for Nathan, he was not lured from the drum circle by strangers. He was with the people he called friends. That is the great tragedy. He had only been in the area for a few days before the murder. I am sure most of the people he was hanging out with were "drum circle" regulars. I do know that at least one of them is remorsefull...Raven. She was one of the first to post on the original blog. I hope she still checks it and will contact the family. There are several others who saw it, even participated in it. Perhaps they are keeping silent out of fear. That is why we have open an avenue of contact through the memorial website. Please check it out.

Sounds like this "circle" should be shut down by the police. We dont need this type of activity on the beach or in any neighborhood.

I keep wishing ..still, of just having one more day with him.....The "what if's" an "If only's" will never go away. He is Greatly Missed!

God bless.

My name is Derek Jones.
I know who the man in the photo is. He is Robert Northington II, and I can verify this. I lived with him for a year and a half, and he has a child with my cousin Christina. Iknew him very, very well.
I may have information for the Morgan family.
Please, feel free to contact me @

"One of the readers who commented on the original March 2008 post said that there was video surveillance footage turned over to authorities that showed part of the attack. You can find the link to that post on Morgan's name in the first sentence of this dispatch. Still, no arrests have yet been made in connection with the homicide. Police did not comment this week on whether they had identified suspects in Morgan's killing, although Det. Carranza said there had been some developments in the case.

Megan Garvey
Los Angeles Times"

Here is the link that I was looking for and that Megan Garvey is referring to. I had to google it to find it.
Here there are 2 key comments. 1 from "brad" who is the owner of the apt building where the supposed "video tape" that no one has seen came from.
2 from "Raven" who is stating that she was there and may have seen what happened, and can identify one of the girls who was in the photos found on the camera.
I speculate that 1 of 2 people are Raven - from the photos. The girl in the middle in the picture @
or this lady in this picture,

I am waiting to view the surveillance video that the LAPD have so that I may try and identify one or more of the assailants. Richard Morgan is contacting
the LAPD to see if that video is available and can be viewed, if it can, I will be viewing it and turning whatever information I have over to the LAPD and the Morgan family.
After finding out that Robert Northington was one of the last people with Nathan, and knowing Robert as well as I did, I am suspicious, very suspicious on how Nathan died. The LAPD needs to step up on this one, the little finding that I am aware of on this one is BS.


About the Reporters
The Homicide Report is compiled using information from the Los Angeles County coroner's office, local law enforcement agencies and the Los Angeles Times. It is written by Times staff writers.

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