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EXCLUSIVE: It’s been nearly 28 years since Brett Cantor was found dead in his Hollywood home – and Pat Tapia is now hoping someone who knows what happened will finally come forward.
The retired homicide detective participated in a true-crime podcast that was released earlier this year titled “Dragonfly: Brett Cantor Murder Mystery,” which focuses on the puzzling circumstances surrounding the 25-year-old’s death. The series, created by Jacy Nova, features interviews with Cantor’s family and friends, including his ex-girlfriend Rose McGowan.
“Shortly after I retired, Jacy reached out and wanted to know if I could find out some information about Brett,” Tapia told Fox News. “I got in contact with the LAPD and eventually got in contact with the lead detective back in 1993 when the murder occurred. And it sounded very interesting. Jacy asked me if I wanted to be part of a podcast to investigate Brett’s murder and bring it to light, hopefully, to solve it. And I said, ‘Yes, of course, I will. I’ll do anything to help.’”
Cantor, a Chrysalis Music Group A&R executive, was found stabbed to death on July 30, 1993. At the time, Variety reported that Cantor, a partner in Hollywood’s Dragonfly nightclub and a local promoter for raves, was last seen leaving Club 434 in Hollywood during the early hours.
Brett Cantor died from multiple stab wounds.
(Courtesy of ‘Dragonfly: Brett Cantor Murder Mystery’)
The recognizable figure of the Los Angeles nightclub scene was the son of Paul Cantor, an agent at William Morris who went on to manage stars such as Dionne Warwick and B.J. Thomas. Cantor made his own mark in music and was said to have been instrumental in discovering the rock band Rage Against the Machine.
“Family and friends described Brett as a very charismatic young man, a rising Hollywood music producer and nightclub promoter,” said Tapia. “He had a lot going on for himself and was on his way to becoming legendary like his father.”
In the podcast, McGowan described Cantor as “the Pied Piper of People.”
“Brett was just this kind of rainbow of a person,” the actress explained. “… Brett was just really magnetic and he had these incredible blue eyes and he was just funny… He was just so brash but in a really not obnoxious way.”
Tapia said he was surprised that Cantor’s case, in particular, hasn’t been solved yet, due to his high-profile connections.
Brett Cantor’s father, Paul Cantor, was a notable manager and record label exec.
(Courtesy of ‘Dragonfly: Brett Cantor Murder Mystery’)
“There’s a lot of information out there, and a lot of people that we’ve been told to contact, and we’ve tried to contact some of these people,” said Tapia. “But some of them are very difficult to contact… Within those circles, people talk, even still today. People give information to each other and gossip about stuff. We’re just hoping that one of those people will come forward. And we’re hoping one of those people we’ve tried to contact will come forward and talk to us.”
He also said the description concerning the last time Cantor was seen alive still raises questions.
“He went out with a friend to a different club and apparently was a little disturbed about maybe some of the people that were there,” Tapia explained. “So he wanted to leave. Also, he had a previous engagement arranged so he needed to go home. But he was in a good condition. He was happy. He wasn’t distraught or anything. He just didn’t want to be at the club he was at.”
McGowan, who was dating Cantor at the time, described in the podcast how his murder impacted her over the years.
“What really messed me up, I always thought of how much fear he died with and what terror his body felt,” said the 47-year-old. “… I don’t know why it always really stuck with me. I know that I have certain powers and I have access to things, even if it doesn’t seem like I would have access eventually to a police chief or investigators and things like that… I just have a real problem with injustice. I really, really do. It just bothers me incredibly.”
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Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson were murdered on June 12, 1994.
While Cantor’s murder stirred headlines, it would be overshadowed by another gruesome homicide. On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were stabbed to death. Her ex-husband, O.J. Simpson, was ultimately acquitted of the crime in what came to be known as “The Trial of the Century.”
“I know that the LAPD put a lot of work into that and had a lot of detectives assigned to that case,” said Tapia. “So I think Brett’s case did not have the people to investigate at that time… And nobody really wanted to give information at the time. I think a lot of people were afraid to say something and somehow be involved. A lot of times people just don’t want to get involved because they’re afraid that something might happen to them or they may be seen as a suspect. Or, they just don’t want to go through the court process and have to cooperate and go to court and testify.”
But the rumors – and conspiracy theories – persisted. According to the Los Angeles Times, sources said Cantor had pushed underground music in a nightclub where Goldman once worked and Brown Simpson liked to dance.
Tapia said that there were too many differences in the cases and they aren’t connected “whatsoever.”
“What surprised me the most was all the rumors that were out there,” he said. “Some of them were so fantastic. I couldn’t even believe how they even started. There was just so much on the internet about different motives or rumors… I think the detectives just didn’t know who the credible people to talk to were.”
Rose McGowan spoke out about her relationship with Brett Cantor in the "Dragonfly" podcast.
(Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Audible)
One theory is that Cantor’s murder was a drug deal gone wrong. Some suggested that perhaps Cantor owed money to someone, resulting in a deadly confrontation.
“I don’t think those theories hold very much water,” said Tapia. “Brett had been sober for quite some time. There was nothing that indicated that he was involved in any kind of drug trafficking. As far as him owing money, we never heard anything to support that theory.”
“What we think happened is that Brett became aware of something that he probably shouldn’t have been aware of and didn’t want to cooperate,” Tapia shared. “He didn’t want to get along with the program. So he may have been made an example for other people who were knowledgeable of things that were going on, whether it was stuff going on at Dragonfly or stuff that was going on at the underground raves or stuff that was going on at the sober living meetings of the sundowners that he was attending. We believe he found out about something and was either going to expose it or didn’t want to go along with the program.”
“As far as the club is concerned, he had a few run-ins with other people,” Tapia continued. “So it could be that something was going on at the club. We have information that there may have been drugs being funneled through the club… Brett may have found out about that and didn’t want that happening in his club. He wanted to run a good club. But as far as any actual positive information from a firsthand witness, it’s all just speculation at this time.”
‘Dragonfly: Brett Cantor Murder Mystery’ is currently available for streaming.
But Tapia is adamant that Cantor’s murder will be solved in time. In 2006, McGowan pushed to get Cantor’s case re-investigated. And according to Tapia, there are new leads coming in. He also believes the podcast will shed light on the case and encourage someone to share new information. He also pointed out that DNA technology is far more sophisticated today than it was in 2006 – and especially 1993.
Cantor’s father died in 2014 at age 86.
“We’re hoping this podcast will cause some people who were hesitant back then to come forward now,” said Tapia. “Somebody out there knows what happened. Someone out there has information that could give Brett’s family and friends some closure.”
Anyone with information regarding Brett Cantor’s murder on July 30, 1993, in West Hollywood, please contact Detective Richard Bengston at the LAPD Robbery-Homicide division 213-486-6810. Any information you provide will be kept confidential.
To submit an anonymous tip, please contact LA Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or via their website at lacrimestoppers.org. All communications are encrypted, and 100% anonymous.
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