- Connor Murphy was once a prolific fitness influencer on YouTube, pulling in half a billion views.
- He’s said that in 2020 he attended an ayahuasca ceremony that fundamentally shifted his worldview.
- An ex-girlfriend of Murphy’s accused him of sexually assaulting her in April.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A highly-followed bodybuilding personality on YouTube appeared to experience shocking changes in personality after he said he began using hallucinogenic drugs. A deeper examination of his journey uncovered disturbing allegations of assault.
Connor Murphy used to be one of the most popular fitness influencers on YouTube. The 26-year-old has 2.4 million subscribers and half a billion views on his YouTube videos, which for years consisted mostly of him exercising, taking his shirt off, and talking to women. Murphy appeared at fitness expos, sold a workout program, and claims to have made six figures a year from YouTube.
But his videos took a sharp turn after Murphy was “spiritually enlightened,” he said in an interview, during an ayahuasca trip in 2020. After that, Murphy began posting bizarre, cryptic videos with wild claims. In one video, he said his life was based on the play “Dear Evan Hansen,” and in another, that he was the reincarnation of Jesus, leaving viewers wondering whether he’s “acting,” struggling with his mental health, or, as he’s said in some interviews, trying to raise awareness around mental health.
Three influencers who have recently interacted with Murphy, one who has known him since 2017, and two who visited him for two weeks in May, recently spoke with Insider about the content creator, whose life seems to have changed remarkably in the past year. They all said it seemed to them that Murphy’s life had fallen into disarray after his purported use of drugs.
A portrait of Murphy’s life has emerged, one marked by hallucinogens, controversy, and, possibly, a warped sense of reality. A darker allegation against Murphy also surfaced during the reporting of this story: Lauren Kinnear, an ex-girlfriend, told Insider that Murphy had sexually assaulted her in a hotel room in April.
Murphy disputed the allegation in his interviews with Insider and in a video posted on his channel ahead of the publication of this article.
In two interviews with Insider, Murphy was adamant that he was just an “actor” and that his actions in all of his recent videos, such as seemingly taking large doses of hallucinogens and spending two weeks in a mental hospital, were all part of a plan that “everyone is in on.” He said that everything in his videos was a performance but stood by details about his life, such as his use of hallucinogens, that appeared in his book, “Insane or Enlightened,” self-published in a Google doc earlier this year.
Murphy rapidly rose to YouTube fame
Murphy was born in Missouri and raised in Arkansas. He started weightlifting when he was 13, he said in his first YouTube video, posted in 2016. He said he got serious about fitness when he was 21.
In his second video, he took his shirt off in an Abercrombie & Fitch store window, claiming later in the video that this got him banned from the mall. In others, he would talk to women in the street or on Omegle, a site where users can talk to random strangers.
He quickly found viral fame.
In November 2016, Murphy posted his most popular video, which has 62 million views. In the video, titled “The Connor Murphy Fake Shirt Trick,” he asks women what color his shirt is under his jacket before revealing he’s shirtless.
Murphy leaned into his new YouTuber identity, filming and posting videos from various locations.
In 2017, Murphy was barred from the University of Texas at Austin for trespassing. He’d moved to Austin in 2013 for college and shot many of his early videos there, but by 2017 he was no longer a student. Later that year, Murphy moved to Los Angeles to pursue a full-time influencer career.
Murphy wrote in his book that despite pursuing a life beyond his “childhood dreams,” he was the unhappiest he’d ever been.
Murphy said he started meditating and became “interested in Buddhist practice” after a failed mugging in Santa Monica in 2018 made him realize his own mortality.
“This was the lowest part of my life,” he wrote. “Not only was I depressed because my life situation didn’t give me happiness, but I was so paranoid about death.”
Murphy says he found psychedelics and started to take them frequently
Murphy said he began experimenting with drugs in 2019 with his girlfriend.
That year, Murphy had met Lauren Kinnear, a 19-year-old UCLA student, on the dating app Bumble. She told Insider that they started dating shortly after and would film YouTube videos together. That August, she said, she moved into Murphy’s Los Angeles apartment.
“I realized he’s a really scary person,” Kinnear said told Insider.
In his book, Murphy wrote that he went to six EDM festivals, some with Kinnear, and dabbled with MDMA, popularly known as ecstasy. After the couple broke up in December 2019, Murphy said he and a friend tried LSD and “magic mushrooms” but didn’t experience the “spiritual” awakening they had expected.
Murphy said he participated in an ayahuasca ceremony in Joshua Tree National Park in May 2020. Ayahuasca is a powerful hallucinogen that contains DMT and can cause intense hallucinations, euphoria, anxiety, and delusions of grandeur. Murphy said his trip led to “ego death,” a belief that he was God, and an “an altered state of consciousness.”
He wrote that in less than a week he’d gone “from a spiritually frustrated YouTuber to a guru with complete experiential understanding of the universe.”
The week after his trip, Murphy posted a series of videos on his main YouTube channel that alarmed and confused people in his fan base. In them, he tried to “enlighten” his friends and family. In a now-deleted video, he leaked his address and implied that he’d end his own life.
In his book and in a video on his Connor Murphy Raw channel, Murphy said that right after he made that video he called 911, put on a “disguise,” and wandered around Venice Beach until the police found and detained him. He said he was then sent to the UCLA Medical Center and held for over two weeks.
On May 30, 2020, Murphy posted a video called “Yes, I’m Alive. And I’m Sorry” on his Connor Murphy Talks channel, saying that he “was not in my right mind” and that his previous video was just an “acting reel.”
Two weeks later, on June 14, Murphy said he’d started a 40-day fast, which he livestreamed. Kinnear told Insider that she’d visited Murphy during this period, describing him as “manic.” By the end of his fast, Murphy had lost significant muscle mass. Some of his fans posted comments saying they were worried about his mental health.
Murphy made most of his videos private in November 2020, then made them public a few months later.
In 2021, Murphy continued on his new, bizarre path, posting videos in which he discussed drinking bodily fluids and said he’d gotten surgery without anesthesia. He also claimed that he was in the musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” which has a character named Connor Murphy.
Kenny Boulet, a fitness YouTuber who goes by Kenny KO and who’s been a friend of Murphy’s since 2017, flew Murphy out to his home in Las Vegas in March. Boulet told Insider that Murphy used to be a “nice guy who was fun to be around.” On this trip, Boulet said, Murphy was “meditating throughout the day” and “sun gazing.” He said Murphy “wasn’t present.”
Murphy’s former girlfriend says he sexually assaulted her in an LA hotel room
Kinnear told Insider that Murphy sexually assaulted her in a hotel room in Los Angeles on April 25. Murphy had invited her to play mini-golf and talk while he was visiting from Dallas, where he had moved back to in 2020, Kinnear said.
“I met him up in his hotel room, and when he opened the door, I said hi,” Kinnear said. “And he suddenly pulled me in and started trying to take off all my clothes. And I have anxiety, and I was caught off guard. I didn’t even get a sentence out. He put a pillow on my head and held my face down and then shook me back and forth.”
Kinnear told Insider she’d protested that Murphy didn’t have a condom and that he could have an STD. She said Murphy replied, “I’m God; it’s impossible.” Kinnear said that after that, she “just let it happen.”
Kinnear said she went back to the home she shares with her cousin Tiara Maxwell. Maxwell told Insider that Kinnear confided in her that night, describing her as “super upset and distraught.”
“She came home bawling her eyes out,” Maxwell said. “She was shocked. They had a relationship, and she didn’t think he would do something like that.”
The next day, Kinnear texted Murphy; Insider reviewed the conversation. “Before I even got a sentence out, you aggresively striped [sic] me down and had sex with me,” she said. “What you did makes me feel very used.”
“You seemed really into it in the moment,” Murphy responded. Later in the conversation, Kinnear texted, “You took advantage of me sexually two nights ago I feel like I was raped.”
Kinnear filed a “report of rape,” reviewed by Insider, with the Placentia Police Department on April 30. The department would not comment on the report, and a search of court records in Orange County didn’t produce documentation of any current or former charges against Murphy.
Murphy posted the text conversation with Kinnear on his Instagram Story with a poll asking “Was this rape?” He also posted a report which Connor told Insider was fake saying he’d tested positive for multiple STDs, then showed the negative results. Murphy said in an interview that he’d posted the poll because he “wanted people to weigh in on it and question it.”
A few days later, Murphy posted a photo on TikTok and Instagram of Kinnear’s head on an iPad next to a sex doll with two watermelons on the chest. He captioned it “Spare Time – God masturbating to itself.”
Kinnear filed two more police reports against Murphy about the posts; Insider reviewed both reports. One report said that the officer did not “see anything that would indicate a violation of a penal code.” She was advised to get a restraining order against Murphy, which she told Insider she had not done. The Placentia Police Department would not comment on the reports.
In an interview, Murphy said Kinnear’s claims “were completely made up.” He told Insider that the sex was “consensual,” adding, “We always had sex without a condom, so that’s completely normal.”
Kinnear also told Insider that Murphy had had sex with her without her consent during their relationship in 2019. The first police report she filed about Murphy said Kinnear had told investigators that “Murphy would have sex with her while she was asleep” and that “she knew Murphy was having sex with her during these incidents but she did not tell him to stop because she just wanted it to be over with.”
Murphy denied that it was assault. “We used to have a fantasy when she would pretend to be asleep,” he told Insider. “We agreed on it beforehand.”
A series of YouTube videos showing Murphy’s living conditions worried fans
In Murphy’s latest videos, he appeared to use drugs on camera and addressed the assault allegation.
On May 5, 2021, Murphy posted a video in which he consumed what he said was ayahuasca, but that it didn’t affect him. In an interview with Insider, he said that he did consume the drug in the video, adding, “Once you get to a certain level of consciousness, these psychedelics stop affecting you in a certain way.”
Michael Winkelman, a retired professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University who has studied the effects of ayahuasca use, told Insider that when a person takes ayahuasca regularly, “the serotonin system regulates the effect,” meaning it may no longer have a hallucinogenic effect. If they repeatedly take large doses, he said, it can lead to “developing megalomaniac features.”
In May, Micah Putman, who co-runs the YouTube channel Good Key, and Jane Cooper, a writer and YouTuber, posted separate videos about their experiences with Murphy. They said they’d visited Murphy’s apartment in Dallas. Cooper told Insider it was covered with “Amazon boxes,” “pounds of ayahuasca,” and “rotten food everywhere.”
“It was extremely messy, the sink was almost unusable when we got there, and the fridge was grimy with mold and rotten food,” Putman told Insider. “It was like he bought something and by the time it arrived at his door it was thrown into the abyss that was his cluttered floor.”
In an interview, Murphy said that there was no ayahuasca in his apartment and that both Putman and Cooper were “in on” the “act.” Murphy and Putman denied that.
Also in May, Murphy appeared to post his Social Security number, credit-card details, phone number, and financial information on Instagram. Murphy said the posts were meant “to show a nonattachment to materialism.”
Murphy said that after Cooper’s and Putman’s videos were filmed on May 12, he was sent to a mental-health facility for 12 days. On May 24, he posted a YouTube video titled “RIP Connor Murphy,” and over the next week he posted daily, claiming he had died. Since then, he’s been staying with his parents in Missouri and posting more bizarre videos.
On June 9, after Murphy found out an article was being written about him, he posted a video with a 30-minute conversation with Kinnear. As she cries, she begs him not to post their conversation online.
“Clearly you have a skewed view of what help is and what love is, because this is not it at all,” Kinnear said in the video, adding: “You’re not able to feel remorse. You’re not. Like, I don’t know why that part of your brain isn’t activated.”