A cold case involving the murder of a young man who briefly attended Ladysmith High School in the early 1980s and whose body was found dismembered in California on Halloween weekend in 1990 may have been solved.
The Los Angeles Police Department and District Attorney George Gascon announced this week that a leading suspect, Darrell Lynn Madden, has confessed to the murder of William Arnold Newton. A story of the announcement appeared this week in the Los Angeles Times.
Newton was born July 26, 1965, in Eau Claire. He attended grade school and junior high school in Eau Claire before moving to Ladysmith in 1979. A 1981 Ladysmith school yearbook lists a “W. Newton” as a sophomore. There is no listing in the years before or after that. Newton and his mother moved to Oklahoma City after his freshman year of high school.
From that point on, Newton was a runaway and on his own, eventually landing in West Hollywood. His feet and head were found in a garbage container on Oct. 29, 1990. The rest of his remains were never found.
In California, Newton acted in gay pornographic films more than three decades ago under the name Billy London and Billy Porter. He also produced gay pornographic films under the name Bill E. London.
A new light was shined on the cold case last year when a witness claimed he saw Newton leave a bar on the night of his death with a man who looked like the Milwaukee mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer. Dahmer allegedly was questioned about Newton by law enforcement while alive, but denied being involved in the killing.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a confession to Netwon’s murder came after years of painstaking research from a team of internet sleuths including a stay-at home father, Clark Williams, a documentary filmmaker, a pair of podcast hosts — one of whom is author Christopher Rice — and two Los Angeles Police Department detectives.
Det. John Lamberti began looking into the case again last year, while filmmaker Rachel Mason was working on a documentary film about the unsolved crime. Rice and cohost Eric Shaw Quinn were covering it on their podcast, “The Dinner Party Show.” They began sharing notes.
On Monday, detectives confirmed they had secured a confession in Newton’s murder. His alleged killer, they said, is Madden, another former gay porn actor in West Hollywood. Madden is currently serving a life prison sentence, convicted of abducting and brutally killing another gay man years after Newton’s murder.
Integral to the investigation was Williams, who now lives in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He reached out to Mason to simply provide some background to the filmmaker about what it could have been like for Newton growing up in Wisconsin, as he was from the same area.
“When Billy was murdered in late October, 1990, I was actually living in Ladysmith as the campaign manager for then Ladysmith Mayor, Marty Reynolds in his bid for the State Assembly. As you may know, I got involved in the investigation into [Billy’s] murder after seeing recent press coverage profiling the unsolved case of someone from my hometown,” Williams said in an email. “I even visited Ladysmith in early February 2022 to uncover any information that could help me better understand Billy’s difficult life.”
Williams dug up criminal records that placed Madden in L.A. around the time of Newton’s murder, which was also a time when skinheads were causing widespread problems across Southern California.
Lamberti and his partner, Det. Tamara Momayez, began digging into Madden. They discovered that the gay porn production company Madden had worked for was in a building on Santa Monica Boulevard that backed onto the alley where Newton’s head and feet had been found.
On Jan. 4, Lamberti and Momayez sat down with Madden, who now identifies as a transgender woman and an Orthodox Jew named Daralyn.
Eventually, the detectives eased into the subject of Newton’s murder, and Madden came clean, Lamberti said — confessing in a recorded interview to abducting him from Santa Monica Boulevard at dusk.
According to Lamberti, Madden told the detectives she and her skinhead friends had seen Newton walking along the street and “basically targeted him for robbery.”
Madden said she approached Newton “and kind of put [her] arm around his shoulder,” then calmly told him that they were going to rob him and “probably beat the crap out of” him, and that he was going to go with them without making a scene, Lamberti said.
Lamberti said Madden told them she couldn’t remember where they had taken Newton, but that she had ended up strangling him to death, which matched the coroner’s findings.
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