Ex-SJ leader solves cold case murder of gay porn actor

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday March 29, 2023
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Amateur sleuth Clark Williams cracked a cold case of a gay Los Angeles porn star's murder. Photo: Courtesy Clark Williams
Amateur sleuth Clark Williams cracked a cold case of a gay Los Angeles porn star's murder. Photo: Courtesy Clark Williams

How did a gay stay-at-home married dad end up solving the 33-year-old cold case murder of a Los Angeles gay porn star?

"That's the million-dollar question," Clark Williams told the Bay Area Reporter. "One my husband and daughter have been asking as well."

Daralyn Madden confessed to Los Angeles police that she killed Los Angeles gay porn star William "Billy" Arnold Newton in 1990. Photo: Oklahoma Department of Corrections  

Daralyn Madden, a transgender woman who is serving a life prison sentence in Oklahoma, confessed to Los Angeles Police Department Detective John Lamberti that on October 29, 1990, she had killed and dismembered gay porn star William "Billy" Arnold Newton (his screen name was Billy London) in a February interview that came about because of painstaking research by Williams.

"I gotta tell you: it was one of the most moving moments of my career as a police officer," Lamberti told the B.A.R. "I was almost speechless when I finally talked to Madden — my partner and I. It was something else. It's hard to put into words."

Williams' amateur detective work was detailed in a February 7 Los Angeles Times article available to subscribers.

A former northern co-chair of what was then called the LGBT Caucus of the California Democratic Party (it's now the LGBTQ caucus), Williams relocated from San Jose to Los Angeles with his family back in 2013, the B.A.R. reported at the time. In the intervening years, he'd devoted himself to his daughter's rowing pursuits through high school.

"Taking her to practice, helping her get in, took a fair bit of time," Williams said, adding that once she started at Michigan State University in the fall of 2021, where she's a Division I rower, he found himself bored and an empty nester.

So Williams decided to connect with people from his youth through a Facebook group on the gay history of Wisconsin, his home state. Enter Rachel Mason — the documentarian who directed and wrote "Circus of Books," about her parents who ran a West Hollywood gay pornographic store.

"She did a post on Facebook asking for Jeffrey Dahmer's whereabouts in October 1990 because of the still-unsolved murder of Billy Newton," Williams said. Mason, who did not respond to a request for comment for this report, posted an article with her query.

Dahmer killed and dismembered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991, mostly in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he found many of his victims at gay bars. Dahmer, who was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted on 16 counts of first-degree murder in 1992, was bludgeoned to death by a fellow inmate two years later.

Dahmer is not a figure Williams and other gay Wisconsinites take kindly to being reminded of.

"It was a sucker punch that Dahmer, a member of our community, went to our safe spaces. He really hurt us as a community," Williams said. "I understand the intention but [Mason's] post in the Facebook group was going to get her attacked, albeit unfairly. So I messaged her and I made it very clear he [Dahmer] did not commit any murders other than in Milwaukee and Ohio."

Indeed, Dahmer was asked if he had killed Newton during a police interview, to which he replied in the negative. But from the article Mason had shared, Williams learned that Newton hailed from his own hometown of Eau Claire.

"We were born just a week apart," Williams, 57, said of Newton. "So, I thought 'who the hell is this guy?' I don't need to tell you growing up in Wisconsin gay at that time was hard. You couldn't even say the word 'gay' without being attacked in my community. I realized Billy Newton also came from that community and I felt very connected to Billy Newton."

Williams hadn't remembered Newton because the latter ran away from home at the age of 16. Newton "came to be a runaway youth in the streets of West Hollywood," Williams said. It was while working at Hollywood Spa, a gay bathhouse in Los Angeles, that Newton met adult film producer David Rey; the two later started London-Rey Productions in 1987.

A change in focus
After talking to Mason, Williams began working on the Dahmer connection.

"I told Rachel [Mason] 'I'll spend a little time on this,'" Williams said. "I went to Fresno, where Dahmer's mom lived at the time. I talked to friends in Milwaukee to ask what they think. I learned Los Angeles police did file a request for information from Milwaukee police about Newton's death after Jeffery Dahmer was arrested. The answer was always no. So I worked on that for a couple months — pretty vigorously — but got nothing."

Then Williams changed his focus.

William "Billy" Arnold Newton was killed in October 1990. Photo: Courtesy PrideLA  

"The answer was not so much 'who did it?' as 'who was Billy Newton?'" Williams said.

For that, he flew back to Wisconsin, where he got hold of Newton's school records.

"Billy Newton was an actual person, a person from my community, and I wanted to do justice for Billy so he would not just be remembered for how he died but for how he lived. I really felt like telling Billy's story in an accurate way was telling the story of a whole lost generation, which I feel like I was the only survivor of, at times," Williams said, referring to the hundreds of thousands of American gay men who died during the AIDS epidemic. "These are ghosts, these are friends of mine."

Williams also got in touch with Lamberti, a homicide detective who works on cold cases, who was "very appreciative of the efforts because they [the LAPD] did not have the resources" for the case, Williams said.

"I was very careful in corresponding with him and did a tremendous amount of research before going forward with any lead to him," Williams said.

After the Dahmer and Wisconsin avenues dried up, Williams proceeded to do a "dive into the gay porn community."

"I've watched gay porn, but knew next to nothing about the industry. ... My gay friends laugh — 'what a tough job, looking at gay porn,'" Williams said. "I'm not a police investigator. I was trying to help Rachel tell an accurate story of Billy's life [for her forthcoming documentary]."

'I almost fell out of bed'
Through the gay pornography connection, Williams discovered a man named Rick Paskay, who around the time of Newton's murder had claimed to be a private investigator looking into it. He was actually "in the gay porn industry for 20 years, which he never disclosed," Williams said, adding that Paskay's real name was Richard Lawrence.

Lawrence had directed a pornographic film, titled "The Devil and Danny Webster," that touted it was "Introducing Billy Houston."

It was in researching Houston that Williams discovered the new star's real name was Darrell Lynn Madden (now Daralyn Madden) who, as it turned out, pleaded guilty to killing a gay man in Oklahoma named Steven Domer as well as Madden's own accomplice in that murder, Bradley Qualls.

The 2007 murder was "just before Halloween," Williams said. "Billy Newton was killed just before Halloween 1990. It said in an article that Darrell Madden had once worked in gay porn as Billy Houston."

Disturbed by the coincidence, Williams looked into Madden's "lengthy criminal record in California," which showed some violent crimes as well as sale of methamphetamine. It was while reading an interview with Madden in a book — "American Honor Killings" by Scott McConnell — that Williams said he "almost fell out of bed."

"I'm reading the book, where he talked about Darrell Madden and he confessed, in the book, to committing murders in L.A. while in the gay porn industry," Williams said. "This really scared me. While he was committing these crimes he was hanging around a skinhead gang as Richy Rich. ... That kind of psychology of identifying as gay during the day then at night going with people who commit crimes against gay people — that's a dangerous level of psychopathy."

Williams said he told Lamberti about the connection.

"He said 'this is the biggest tip in 32 years of this case,'" Williams recalled Lamberti saying.
Lamberti met with Madden, who reportedly confessed to the crime. (An attorney for Madden could not be located.)

"It was so overwhelming," Williams said. "I sobbed. I was also really sad because it drove me back to when I was younger."

Williams said that acts of violence from skinhead biker gangs were common around the time of Newton's murder.

"I learned a lot about the City of Angels at that time," Williams said. "There were a number of attacks and they were largely unreported or not investigated at all. Billy, like a lot of gay men, came here and built their own family systems in Los Angeles, and I'm sure it's true in the Castro as well. Gay men were fighting for our lives at that point with HIV/AIDS, so random street attacks weren't much of a priority."

Williams said Newton may have just been among those unreported, uninvestigated cases. Only his head and feet have ever been recovered — from a dumpster.

He was last seen leaving the Rage nightclub, now Heart, at 8911 Santa Monica Boulevard.
"The reality is it's a miracle they found Billy Newton's remains," Williams said. "It's a chance. A homeless person found his body in a dumpster."

'It's really humbling'
The confession also cleared the name of Marc Rabins, Newton's onetime lover, who had been suspected of the crime.

"He's a victim, too," Williams said. "Marc Rabins had nothing to do with the murder and the police have cleared him of any involvement."

Rabins told the B.A.R. that "not only was I in the Hollywood homicide suspect list, there have been many others that believed I may have been guilty."

"Bill and I were partners for a couple years before he was murdered. We loved each other very much," Rabins stated. "His death changed my life forever. ... Needless to say, I am very grateful for all those who helped justice prevail after 32 long years."

Lamberti said he is grateful for Williams' work on the case.

"The LAPD has four homicide bureaus divvied up throughout the city," Lamberti said. "At our unit we have cold cases dating back to the early 1970s, about 50 years of records. How many are we actually working on at any given time? I try to have a small handful. ... Clark blew me out of the water."

Williams called Lamberti a detective who is "at the top of his profession in one of the foremost departments in the country."

Williams isn't necessarily done with cold case work, either.

"Who knew I had this third act in my life?" he asked. "It's really humbling."

Still, it was the passion for telling Newton's story fairly and compassionately that did the job, Williams said.

"If I'd had any other motivation, it'd never have been solved, frankly," Williams said.

Multiple outlets have reported that the office of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, a former assistant chief of the Los Angeles Police Department who also served as the district attorney of San Francisco, is not filing charges against Madden. It and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections did not respond to a request for comment for this report as of press time.

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