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Rick Godfrey Murder: How Did He Die?

by Ana Lopez
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The April 2015 murder of Rick Godfrey, 39, in Phelan, California, is detailed in the Investigation Discovery special “Murder in the Wicked West: Cowboy Conman.” About eight months later, in December 2015, his body was discovered in Llano.

Two suspects were arrested in connection with Rick’s murder, but one was released due to insufficient evidence. Here’s what we know about the case so far, including the identity and whereabouts of the perpetrator or killers.

How did Rick Godfrey die?

On February 28, 1977, the New York world was introduced to Allan Frederick “Rick” Godfrey Jr. He trained horses and retired from the rodeo circuit at a young age, as depicted on the show, so it’s safe to assume he had some sort of fascination with the Wild West.

Rick Godfrey murder
Rick Godfrey murder

During his travels from West Town to West Town, Rick’s actions earned him a reputation as a ladies’ man, as stated in the episode. The charming and talented horseman soon made his home in Phelan, where he began working for Dale Cecil Brewster and Debbie Harris on their ranch.

He kept his dog, Zip, in a small trailer on the property and loved interacting with his landlords’ farm horses. Cowboy, as Allan Godfrey Sr. fondly remembered his son. He felt at home in the rodeo arena.

He found excitement in that. His affection lay there. The 39-year-old is said to have seen Lisa Simonsen when he disappeared during a weekend in April 2015. On April 17, Rick used Dale’s vehicle to help Lisa move furniture.

But he had to go back to his house to return the borrowed truck on the same day he planned to visit his girlfriend. On the other hand, he never came back and stopped trying to get in touch with Lisa.

Alan Sr. reported his son missing at 9:00 PM on April 18, 2015, after being unable to contact him. The police investigated all possible leads, but could not find Rick.

While riding his dirt bike through the huge high desert town of Llano on December 18, Trevor Thompson discovered a human leg bone near the intersection of 228th Street and Fort Tejon Road.

There was a bench over the grave, he said. The animals had clearly dug up everyone who had been there. After arriving, the officers discovered a body in a shallow grave with the person face down.

The victim was tied up, with their hands tied behind their backs and duct tape wrapped around their heads. Police used DNA samples from Allan Sr. to confirm that Rick’s body had been found. Death by strangulation was confirmed by an autopsy.

Who Killed Rick Godfrey?

After receiving the missing person complaint, police questioned Rick’s girlfriend, Lisa Simonsen, about the last time she had seen him. She told police that after Rick received Dale’s text demanding the speedy return of his truck, Rick got “very excited”.

She stated that she and Rick had a minor argument and that Rick had to drive two hours back to return the car. After an interview with Dale, the detectives discovered a suspicious and unexpected revelation.

Dale allegedly told police he and Rick got into a violent altercation after Rick’s return, as reported by Deputy District Attorney Justin Cocker. After the incident, Dale said Rick jumped his fence and he hasn’t seen or heard from him since.

He told police he had already reported the incident to the sheriff’s office. His 911 call, in which he can be heard saying, “We got into a fistfight. Rick was beaten hard out of him by me.

Dale stated that his neighbor, Laura Vasquez, had initially complained to him that Rick took hundreds of dollars and a bracelet from her. Dale said that’s why he got so angry at his employee and told him to get off his premises immediately, which reportedly escalated into a physical altercation.

Witnessing Rick hit his head climbing his fence and then running into the desert, he informed detectives. The police were afraid that Rick was seriously injured somewhere and needed medical attention quickly.

Thanks to Laura’s interview, they learned that Rick was her business partner and had even lived with her for a while. Investigators eliminated Laura as a suspect despite the fact that the $25,000 she borrowed was a primary motive for the crime.

Laura told police she had informed Dale about the rumored affair between Rick and Debbie, which could have enraged Dale’s other half. Nevertheless, Rick’s friends would not accept that he got up and left without taking his dog or anything else of value with him.

Because Rick had turned off his phone, the police couldn’t find him. After a few days, the police learned that Rick’s landlords said he may have returned for his dog, Zip, further complicating matters.

Police also discovered numerous posts on Rick’s social media sites praising his kidnapping and blaming his promiscuity. The deputies tried to pursue every conceivable lead that emerged from his social media activities, but to no avail.

The discovery of Rick’s body made Dale the prime suspect. Police investigations revealed that Dale had been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in 1991 and had been charged with domestic violence against his ex-wife.

When the detectives went to Debbie’s ranch to question her further, they found that she and her husband had left their belongings behind and fled the area.

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