News & Politics

Missing! Murphy the Giant Metal Gorilla

Montgomery County Police are offering a $10,000 reward for the object, stolen from a Kensington shop.

Murphy inside of Design Emporium and Antiques. Photograph by Kristina Jamgochian.

Kristina Jamgochian was unlocking the door to Design Emporium and Antiques, her shop in Kensington, on the morning of January 5 when she noticed something alarming: Murphy, her huge metal gorilla, was gone. “I just kept staring at the space like it was magically going to reappear,” Jamgochian says.

Yesterday, Montgomery County Police shared video from Jamgochian’s security camera. At 3:15 AM on January 4, a pickup truck rolled up to the store. A person in a mask and hoodie jumped out, cut the cable tying Murphy—a three-foot, 150-pound beast—to two big planters, and hoisted him onto the bed of the truck.

Jamgochian had become quite attached to the gorilla, which she’d purchased at an auction early in the pandemic. She first placed him inside the shop, but moved him outside a few months later, when he became a selfie magnet. Jamgochian jokes that she almost started charging a dollar per photo—she’d make more money from that than from selling him.

The gorilla was named for Murphy’s Law, and blamed when staff couldn’t find something. “I would imagine he came alive a night and just rearranged stuff,” Jamgochian laughed. She had no intention of selling him, but when a frequent customer said she wanted to take Murphy to West Africa for a new hotel, Jamgochian agreed: “I thought maybe now he’d get to run around in the jungle, where he’s from.”

She sold the gorilla for $1,000, and while the buyer arranged shipping, he was stolen. Now, the shopkeeper is doubly frustrated: “This my livelihood, and that was a really good sale for me.”

Jamgochian started her own investigation, reviewing nearby businesses’ security footage to try and catch a license plate number. She asked a mechanic friend about the make and model of the truck. When she came up short, she reached out to the police. MCP has offered a $10,000 reward to anybody with information that leads to Murphy’s return.

Jamgochian says if someone comes and drops him off in the middle of the night, she won’t ask questions.


Editorial Fellow

Keely recently graduated with her master’s in journalism from American University and has reported on local DC, national politics, and business. She has previously written for The Capitol Forum.