Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Zebra Murders: The First Victims?

(What follows is the verbatim text, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling errors included, of a story that appeared in the Pacifica Tribune sometime between 6 and 10 August 1973. The news clipping was sent to me in scanned form by the brother of murder victim Stephen M. Conachy. [Postscript, March 3, 2017, 2:19 a.m.: I’ve determined that this article appeared on Wednesday, August 8, 1973. It refers to “today” as “Wednesday.”] )

Two Pacifica Boys are

Murdered in Separate

SF 'Execution' Slayings

The mystery of what happened in the final violent moments of the lives of two Pacifica young men last weekend remains unsolved.
The two died in separate but similar execution-style gunshot tragedies, one in San Francisco, the other near the top of San Bruno Mountain in San Mateo County.
The bizarre deaths stunned families and friends and left police puzzled. The first inclination to link the gangster-style slayings of two males, both from the same city, within hours of each other, has been discounted by detectives in San Francisco and Redwood City.
STEPHEN M. Conachy, 21, whose family lives at 575 Heathcliff, left his girl friend’s home in Fairmont Friday evening around 9:30 p.m. or so. He was going home early to prepare for a Catholic church pre-marital religious instruction session the next day. His wedding to Linda Simons was to have been Aug. 26. He told Linda he would try to catch a shuttle bus at the Gateway underpass to his apartment in Westlake but failing that he would hitchhike. Less than three hours later, his body was found by a minister about 100 feet form the sidewalk at Lobos and Caine streets in SF. He had been shot five times in the back and head and stabbed in the chest. Detectives said he apparently had been dumped at the scene after having been “executed” elsewhere. His billfold was missing but Monday was delivered by mail to his fiancee from South San Francisco, adding another mystery element. Cash was missing but the billfold was otherwise intact.
JOSEPH M. Villaroman, age 17, 250 El Dorado drive, Fairmont, had spent had spent Friday evening with his girl friend at her San Francisco home. About 12:15 a.m. her father drove him from 30th to 16th street to the home of his grandmother, where Joe had planned to spend the night. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Villaroman, sr., had gone to Russian River for the weekend but Joey, suffering a mild case of poison oak, had decided not to join the family outing, as he usually did. At 1:40 a.m., Joey’s body was spotted by a motorist near the Radio Road intersection of the Guadalupe Canyon Parkway on San Bruno Mountain. Detectives said he’ been shot with two different weapons – seven times.
His wallet, containing $30, was on his body. No one has been able to learn why Joe didn’t enter his grandmother’s house or what happened to him. Police believe he was slain elsewhere and brought to the mountain scene.
The two youths – whose Pacifica homes are less than a mile apart – apparently did not know each other. So far, detectives have found nothing to link the two cases.
Detectives say they have nothing conclusive on either case, but investigations are continuing into every angle.
CONACHY, SON of retired San Francisco policeman Martin Conachy, graduated from Thornton high in 1969. His grieving parents reflected on a lifetime not entirely free of troubles, including a serious auto accident that in which he suffered severe facial injury requiring plastic surgery. Steve, friends said, had had encounters as a juvenile with authorities but, “after so much sadness, he had things really going his way now.” He was working at Toys R’ Us as a maintenance man and was engaged to a hometown girl friend. A shower for her had been scheduled Monday evening.
It was Saturday afternoon before his body was identified from fingerprints and the family notified by Pacifica police. The same priest who had planned to marry the young couple will conduct the funeral mass at Good Shepherd.
In the funeral notice published in the Chronicle, where usually only surviving relatives are listed, the short line, [line is missing here].

Murder Victims
(Continued from Page 1)
Steve was survived by brothers and sisters: Teresa Aguiar, married sister in San Francisco; Peggy 18, Matthew 17, Edward 15, Michael 14, Kevin 11, Daniel 9, Eileen 6. His dad is now a guard for Wells Fargo after disability retirement from the SF police department.
HIS DAD expressed the belief that his death was “one of those hit and run things.” Detective Stephen Maxoutopoulis of the SFPD said “I feel it was an execution … somebody seemed to want him dead real bad.” The detective issued appeals to press and television this week for any kind of information–anyone who might have heard or ovserved or heard anything near the death scene. His number is 553-1145. Detectives said they had a definite “angle” to pursue but it was too early to speculate.
THE VILLAROMAN boy would have been a senior at Mission high this fall. He was a “good boy,” his parents said; a scrapbook is full of clippings, certificates and mementoes of his activities in CYO basketball, baseball leagues and similar activities. At age 9, his photograph appeared in the Tribune, as winner of an essay contest sponsored by the San Francisco Warriors. He was pictured with Warrior star Guy Rodgers. He worked part time for his uncle’s repair service in San Francisco.
All his elementary schooling was in San Francisco; his mother works for the Catholic school system, his dad is a salesman for a beauty salon supply firm. Joey had never been in any trouble, authorities said. His dad speculated that when he was driven to his grandmother’s home at 12:15 a.m., he may have decided to go to a nearby restaurant: “he always liked to eat.” Or, since it was late, he may have decided to hitch home to Fairmont, where the family has lived for 10 years, rather than disturb his grandmother. He had indicated earlier he would stay in San Francisco, however.
When Pacifica police notified the family of his death, only his sister, Donna, was at home. It took several hours for a relative to drive to Russian River to notify the parents and other family members. Joe was survived by Donna 20, Janet 15, David 10, and Jim 7.
SAN MATEO County Detective Eldon McGuire also appealed for public assistance in solving the case. Villaroman’s body was found not far from the spot where another youth was found shot to death. That youth had been working with police in drug investigations.
Villaroman’s funeral mass will be at 11 a.m. at Mission Dolores Basilica. A rosary will be recited at Duggan’s Serra Mortuary in Daly City tonight (Wednesday) at 8 p.m.
Conachy’s rosary was held at McAvoy O’Hara Evergreen Mortuary last night with funeral services scheduled for 10 a.m. at Church of Good Shepherd.
Both boys will be interred at Holy Cross cemetery.

Domestic Terrorism: The Nation of Islam and the Zebra Murders

By Nicholas Stix
Originally published on October 22, 2006

The three men went out hunting that night. But their prey was human. White humans, to be exact. Only they didn’t consider whites human, but rather “grafted snakes,” “white devils,” and “blue-eyed devils.”

They grabbed three children, and tried to get them into their van, but the resourceful kids ran away.

The children were Michele Denise Carrasco, 11, Marie Stewart, 12, and Marie’s 15-year-old brother, Frank.

The angry, frustrated hunters went back to their van, and sought after new quarry. They found it in the form of a happy married couple, out for an after-dinner walk near their home on Telegraph Hill. The wife ran away, but when one of the hunters put a gun to her husband’s chest and said he’d kill him, she stopped and returned. Her devotion cost her her life.

In the van, the hunters brutally assaulted the husband and wife, and two of the hunters (Cooks and Green) robbed the husband and wife, and two (Cooks and Harris) sexually molested the wife. Parking near some deserted railroad tracks in the Potrero District, the hunters had at husband and wife alike, taking turns hacking their faces with a machete, and nearly decapitating the wife, before leaving them for dead.

The couple was named Quita and Richard Hague. The date was October 20, 1973.

Quita Hague was dead, but a hideously mutilated Richard Hague miraculously survived.

The hunters that night were Jesse Lee Cooks, Larry Green, and Anthony Cornelius Harris. Cooks, Green, and Harris were members of the Black Muslims (now known as the Nation of Islam), who had been recruited, along with dozens of other Black Muslims, to randomly murder whites.

That was the official beginning of the “Zebra” Killings, which would be carried out on the streets of San Francisco, and would hold the city by the bay – one of the most beautiful in the world – in a state of terrified siege for the next six months. Or rather, would hold white San Franciscans in a state of terror. As black residents told reporters, they felt just fine, thank you.

The Zebra Killings were so called because the San Francisco Police Department reserved radio frequency “Z” (“Zebra” in military and police parlance) for all dispatches that might be related to the serial killings.

It would be months before the SFPD would connect the Quita Hague killing to the Zebra case. That is because although the Hague case had in common with the San Francisco killings and attempted murders to come, that it was a random black-on-white murder by youngish black men who stood out for being conservatively dressed and groomed, the cases that formed the profile that stood out to the detectives in the SFPD Homicide Detail were all carried out with a .32 pistol, and did not involve robbery or sexual molestation. (Youngish black men who were conservatively dressed and groomed were and are hallmarks of the Nation of Islam (NOI).)

Killers and Suspects

Between October 20, 1973 and April 16, 1974, Jesse Lee Cooks, Larry Green, and Anthony Cornelius Harris, as well as J.C. (aka J.C.X.) Simon and Manuel Moore, murdered at least 15 whites and grievously wounded at least another nine whites in failed murder attempts. In at least one case (“John Doe #169”), the devils kidnapped a homeless white man, took him to Black Self-Help Moving and Storage, the NOI-owned business where all of the above-named killers but Cooks worked, bound and gagged their victim, and began chopping off his body parts while he was still alive. (Cooks worked at the NOI-owned Shabazz Bakery; according to Anthony Harris, the NOI assassins had butchered at least one other white victim at Black Self-Help.)

One of the detectives who worked the Zebra detail told me that one of the cases in which the dismembered white murder victim could not be identified was known as “the turkey case,” since the victim, who was found on Ocean Beach minus his feet and hands (and head?), was trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey.

Jesse Lee Cooks also raped twice and sodomized (at least) one white woman, whom he had planned on murdering, as well, but who succeeded in maneuvering him, much to his consternation, into letting her live.

Black Self-Help was managed by Tom Manney, an NOI member who, according to a different detectives from the case was a former St. Ignatius High School and City College football star. According to Clark Howard, the author of the definitive work on the Zebra killings, Zebra: The true account of the 179 days of terror in San Francisco (1979), Manney lent his black Cadillac to the murderers, who used it in several of the killings. According to Howard, an illegal .32 pistol that Manney owned was the murder weapon in several of the killings. Manney was arrested for the Zebra Killings, but released for – in the DA’s opinion – lack of evidence.

One of the detectives who worked the case told me that more recently, Manney was charged with insurance fraud. The detective recalled that in addition to serial murder, Black Self-Help was a burglary operation. So much for the NOI’s self-image as a clean-cut, racial supremacist religion preaching racial annihilation while refraining from common crimes such as robbery, burglary, and rape.

In addition to Manney, Clarence Jamerson, Dwight Stallings and a fourth man whose identity I could not determine, were also arrested in the Zebra Killings, but released for lack of evidence. The fourth man was inexplicably given the pseudonym “Jasper Childs” by Zebra author Clark Howard.

Stallings was arrested by Inspector Rotea Gilford, who was the first black promoted to the SFPD Homicide Bureau. Gilford, who had grown up with Stallings, was certain that the latter had blood on his hands, but was unable to prove it. Later, while working as a longshoreman, Stallings died in a work accident.

After Gilford retired from the SFPD, he became a close political advisor to his old friend, former California State Assembly speaker and then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. Gilford has since unfortunately died from diabetes. Last year, Gus Coreris remembered Gilford as “a good policeman,” the highest praise one cop will give another.

Nation of Cut-Throats

As one of the inspectors from the SFPD Homicide Detail team that ran the case told me on Thursday, investigators at the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of CII and the FBI had been quietly compiling material on similar murders up and down the state of California and the East Coast, respectively, since 1970. (A detective from the Zebra case called CII “Criminal Intelligence and Investigation,” Clark Howard called it “Criminal Investigation and Identification,” and a timeline of the California Department of Justice identifies CII as “Criminal Identification and Information.”)

One such East Coast murder was the April 14, 1972 ambush murder of Patrolman Philip W. Cardillo in Harlem’s NOI Mosque #6, by mosque members, following a false “officer in need of assistance” call one member had made.

That was Min. Louis Farrakhan’s mosque at the time, and if historian Vincent J. Cannato’s recounting of the murder in The Ungovernable City: John Lindsay and the Struggle to Save New York (2001) holds up, Farrakhan was at least guilty of obstruction of justice, if not conspiracy to murder a police officer.

Retired NYPD Lt. Randy Jurgenson, who responded to the mosque ambush 34 years ago, has just finished a book on the case, Circle of Six. Two weeks ago, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who also responded to the mosque ambush that fateful day, announced that he is reopening the case. At the time, suspect Lewis 17X Dupree, was acquitted of murder charges.

Getting back to the West Coast, the retired SFPD inspector told me that the San Francisco operation was run through the NOI’s local Mosque #26.

The killers all sought membership in an elite NOI group called the “Death Angels,” which had recruiting meetings and pep rallies in the attic at Black Self-Help. In order to become a Death Angel, one had to murder four white children, five white women, or nine white men. In the NOI, cowardice is a virtue.

According to Clark Howard, the NOI had gangs of assassins up and down the state of California:

At that time, there were fifteen accredited Death Angels in California. To achieve their collective membership, they had already quietly killed throughout the state 135 white men, 75 white women, 60 white children – or enough of a combination thereof to give each of them his required four, five, or nine credits. This was October of 1973. The California attorney general’s office had already secretly compiled a list of forty-five of those killings which had taken place in the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Long Beach, Signal Hill, Santa Barbara, Palo Alto, Pacifica, San Diego, and Los Angeles; and in the counties of San Mateo, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, Contra Costa, Ventura, and Alameda. All of the victims were white. All the known suspects in the killings had been associated with the Black Muslim movement. The killings were even then continuing throughout the state.

The operation came down from the highest reaches of the NOI, making the NOI the bloodiest domestic terrorist group in American history.

During the same period, murdering whites had become quite a sport for black San Francisco criminals, a sport that did not bother black San Francisco civilians at all, who were of little help to police in solving the Zebra killings. On the bloodiest night of the killings, January 28, 1974, the NOI murderers shot five whites within two hours, leaving four dead and one crippled. In one case that night, the killers shot to death a white woman, Jane Holly, in front of eight black women in a well-lighted laundromat. Yet none of the black women would give police a useful description of the killer.

Had blacks helped police, the NOI killers could have been caught months earlier, and several of their victims spared.

As retired SFPD assistant chief and historian Kevin J. Mullen, who at the time was a veteran of over 20 years on the force, recently wrote,

By the late 1970s, San Francisco’s homicide rate was 18.5 per 100,000 population, up from 5.9 in an equivalent period in the early 1960s. Much of the increase was driven by a rise in black on white killings. It was in this climate that the Zebra killings occurred.

Note that at 13.4 percent, blacks then comprised barely more than one-eighth of the city’s population.

We still do not know how many whites the Nation of Islam murdered during the period of 1970-75, let alone how many it has since murdered, not to mention how many copycat black-on-white murders it may have inspired.

CII’s Richard Walley, who until his unfortunate death from cancer in 1974, ran the California Department of Justice’s Intelligence Analysis Unit (IAU), was convinced that during the 1970-early 1974 period alone, the NOI was responsible for 71 black-on-white racial murders in California. In Zebra, however, author Clark Howard estimated that the NOI was guilty of “just under 270” black-on-white murders in California during the same period.

Bending the Rules

What broke the seemingly hopeless case was an inspiration by Gus Coreris that went under the rubric of “bending the rules.”

Coreris sat down with SFPD sketch artist Hobart “Hoby” Nelson, and as Coreris told me last year, dictated generic sketches of two 20-something black males. Those sketches were then distributed to local newspapers, who published them on their front pages; to TV news operations, who led with them on the 6 O’Clock News; and to officers in the street, who pulled over every young black man who resembled one of the drawings.

In order to avoid constantly harassing the same innocent black men, the police gave out a special “Zebra Check” card to each black man who had already been stopped and questioned, with the time, date, and place of the stop, the driver’s license and social security numbers of the black civilian, and the name, badge number, and signature of the officer who had made the stop. If an innocent black man had already been stopped, he needed only to produce his Zebra Check card and valid ID showing that he was the card holder.

Note that a few years earlier, hundreds of young white men had been stopped and questioned in connection with the Nob Hill rapist, in which the suspect had been identified as white. Only in the Nob Hill case, no cards were issued to white men who had been stopped, and no one protested or went to court to get the practice stopped.

But this time, black San Franciscans were mad as hell! How dare the police inconvenience and “harass” them. What was the big deal, after all? And why the “Zebra” appellation? This was surely a racist dig at blacks! (You can’t make this stuff up.) Blacks of all social classes were particularly outraged that in a murder spree in which all of the suspects were black, police were stopping and questioning only black potential suspects. The term “racial profiling” had yet to be coined, but the mentality of shielding black criminals was already prevalent among blacks.

As Howard wrote, “The black organizations … were determined to interfere with the police effort in any way they could.” Some were definitely seeking, via political means, to aid and abet mass murderers. One activist preacher, the Reverend Cecil Williams, threatened a race war, if police didn’t back down. As if the race war were not already underway.

I know of only one black San Franciscan from the time, prominent or otherwise, who showed any support for the SFPD. Dr. Washington Garner, a prominent local physician and civic leader, called on the black community to cooperate with police, even emphasizing the tactics used in the Nob Hill rapist case. Unfortunately, Dr. Garner’s alternate pleading and scolding fell on deaf ears.

Jesse Byrd

The NAACP went to court to handcuff the police, and won. It was supported by, among other groups, a racist, black-dominated, counter-police organization called Officers for Justice, whose president was an SFPD officer named Jesse Byrd (spelled “Bird” in some accounts). Jesse Byrd was a Black Muslim.

(A counter-police organization is one which seeks to handcuff and destroy a police agency from within. Contemporary American counter-police organizations are typically formed by blacks or Hispanics, which, while demanding jobs, promotions, and power for unqualified and morally unfit members of their groups, often seek at the same time to aid and abet minority criminals. In addition to Officers for Justice, prominent counter-police organizations include The Black Sentinels in Cincinnati, and The Guardians, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, and the Latino Officers Association in New York. When such groups succeed at getting unfit officer candidates from their respective groups hired, they follow up with frivolous lawsuits, charging that the incompetent minority hires suffer discrimination in promotions, no matter how rapidly those members were promoted, in order to gain them millions of dollars in extortion money.)

Gus Coreris’ bluff saved the day, in spite of Jesse Byrd and the NAACP.

One of the NOI killers was an ex-con named Anthony Harris who, as Gus Coreris told me last year, had wild imagination. Although neither of the police sketches resembled Harris in the slightest, Harris projected himself onto one of them, and convinced himself that he had been identified.

Harris came forward to gain $30,000 in reward money, immunity from prosecution, and new identities for himself, his girlfriend Debra, and her baby.

The SFPD initially secreted the family in either a Holiday Inn motel (according to Howard) or the Del Webb Hotel (as one of the detectives told me). The family was with Inspectors Gus Coreris and John Fotinos, the partners who were the SFPD’s top homicide inspectors, and who were the lead detectives in the case. However, one day while Anthony Harris was taking a shower, Debra called Sister Sarah, the wife of an NOI minister, and told her where the family was hiding.

Within minutes, an NOI assassin had appeared in the lobby, spoken with Harris on the house telephone, and called from a pay phone for reinforcements. Insp. Coreris called his partner, Insp. John Fotinos, from the house phone, to warn him of the impending arrival of the killers, and to get him to prepare Harris, his family, and attorney to escape.

Shortly thereafter, a car pulled up with four more NOI assassins. (Howard’s description of the five suggested they were from the Fruit of Islam, the NOI’s palace guard, as the FOI were much more disciplined than the Zebra killers.)

Feigning indifference to the assassins and to his witness, Inspector Coreris left the motel. The assassins then proceeded to undertake a floor-by-floor search for their prey. Presumably, they would have killed everyone present – including family, inspectors, and attorney.

Once on the street, Insp. Coreris hurried to his SFPD car, and peeling rubber, drove it up to the motel’s rooftop parking lot, where Fotinos, Harris’ lawyer, Laurence Kaufman, and Harris and family were waiting. Once everybody was in, Coreris again peeled rubber, only seconds ahead of the NOI assassins. (This story was told by Clark Howard in Zebra; Gus Coreris corroborated it to me during his telephone interview last year.)

As Howard recounts, when a San Francisco Examiner team of reporter Dexter Waugh and photographer Walt Lynott, and a later Examiner team that included reporter Hollis Wagstaff scoured the city, talking to people how they felt about the killings, not only were blacks not at all fearful – after all, they weren’t being targeted by the killers – not a single black the respective teams interviewed expressed any sympathy for the white victims.

The tenacious, brilliant, and resourceful team of Gus Coreris and John Fotinos are the heroes of the Zebra saga. They had two able younger detectives – Jeff Brosch and Carl Klotz from Robbery Detail – assisting them full-time, with every other member of the Homicide Detail working on the case on a rotating basis.

In Zebra, Clark Howard recounts an incident from a few hours after the assassination attempt at the motel. Gus Coreris returned to his office, where a message from a young black SFPD patrolman awaited him. When Coreris returned the man’s call, the latter did not want to discuss the matter over the phone. In person, the patrolman asked Coreris point blank where he was hiding Anthony Harris. Coreris asked the officer if he was acting on behalf of the NOI. As reported in Zebra, when the young officer answered in the affirmative, Coreris responded that the SFPD would protect Harris and the information he had “at any risk,” that Coreris was going to report the officer to SFPD Chief Donald Scott, Chief of Inspectors Charles Barca, and the Intelligence Division, and that the patrol officer had better stop inquiring after Harris’ whereabouts. (363)

In a telephone interview last year, Gus Coreris confirmed for me that the foregoing incident had occurred just as Clark Howard reported it. When I asked Coreris what had happened to the black officer working for the NOI, he replied, “Nothing.”

We are talking here about a police officer who, based on Coreris’ story, was guilty of conspiring to murder a government witness, conspiring to obstruct justice, and who was an accomplice after the fact in at least 15 murders, at least nine attempted murders, and various and sundry other felonies.

Last year, one of my SFPD sources who had been on the job at the time of the Zebra murders told me that the black officer who had tried to get Anthony Harris’ location for the NOI was none other than Jesse Byrd. Although one SFPD source would have been more than enough for a New York Times reporter, I wanted a source from the inner circle of detectives who ran the case.

I spoke to everyone from the Zebra team, save one, but no one could remember the identity of the black patrolman.

John Fotinos

The one inspector I didn’t reach was John Fotinos. He was the guy that got away.

The other day, Fotinos’ widow told me of the massive stroke her eighty-year-old husband had suffered on April 16 of this year, and which took him eleven days later.

John Fotinos was born on November 1, 1925. He served his nation honorably in World War II (as did his friend and partner, Gus Coreris). John Fotinos was an old-school cop who never took the job home with him. He and his wife had four children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. One of their sons, one son-in-law, and two of their grandsons proudly wear the uniform of the San Francisco Police Department.

I never had any contact with John Fotinos, and never so much as saw his photograph. And yet, when I first read Zebra four years ago, he and Gus Coreris immediately became heroes of mine. John Fotinos will be missed anywhere people care about upholding the thin blue line that separates civilization from anarchy.

In the Zebra case, Inspectors Coreris and Fotinos were ably assisted by Inspectors Jeff Brosch and Carl Klotz, whom Coreris and Fotinos had brought over from the Robbery Detail.

Public Corroboration

So, where would I get my secondary corroboration? Hiding in plain sight, as it turned out. Hollywood screenwriter Bennett Cohen, with the assistance of retired SFPD Chief Earl Sanders, who gave Cohen’s researchers boxes and boxes of the old SFPD Zebra paper work Sanders had taken with him, wrote a just-released book on the case, The Zebra Murders: A Season of Killing, Racial Madness, and Civil Rights. Cohen, who must have found Gus Coreris’ old report complaining about Jesse Byrd’s yeoman efforts on behalf of the NOI assassins, writes that Byrd was, indeed, the NOI mole in the SFPD. Oddly enough, however, Chief Sanders argues that “all they wanted to do was ‘talk’ to [Anthony Harris].”

As crime historian and retired SFPD deputy chief Kevin J. Mullen, a peer of Gus Coreris and John Fotinos, quipped in his review of Bennett Cohen’s book, “Yes. And John Gotti had someone ask the FBI for Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano’s address in the Federal Witness Protection Program so that he could update his Christmas card list.”

It is impossible to overstate Jesse Byrd’s significance. We have many instances over the years of black activists and groups seeking indirectly to aid and abet black criminals and terrorists, through say, handcuffing police (e.g., prohibiting them from surveilling mosques that are known terrorist meeting places, such as San Francisco’s NOI Mosque #26). However, in all the other cases, there was always at least one degree of separation between the terrorists or criminals and their public supporters. Jesse Byrd is the only case I know of, in which there were zero degrees of separation.

Zebra Memorial Service

The 10th Annual Zebra Victims Memorial Services was held Friday at 12 noon on the steps of San Francisco City Hall. Organizers had announced that SFPD Commissioner Petra DeJesus had agreed to attend.

“New” Zebra Victims and the Zebra Project

The person who has helped me the most in studying the Zebra case is Lou Calabro, a retired SFPD lieutenant, who was a sergeant at the time of the NOI murders. Calabro encouraged me to undertake a Zebra Project, in order to determine and name all of the white victims of the NOI’s genocidal campaign. Calabro convincingly argued that the project must necessarily be a team effort, due to the massive workload, in seeking after official records and newspaper accounts from those pre-computer and pre-Internet days. Not to mention that with witnesses, survivors, and lawmen dying off, time is of the essence. I ask that anyone with information about any possible NOI racial attacks please write me at All correspondence will be kept confidential.

In re-reading passages from Clark Howard’s book, I came up with one surviving non-San Francisco victim, Massachusetts native Thomas Bates, a hitchhiker who was shot three times near Emeryville. (Clark Howard cited several fatal and non-fatal non-San Francisco NOI attacks; however, Bates was the only such victim whom he named.) Howard has so far not responded to e-mails from me seeking information on his claim that “just under 270” California whites were murdered by the NOI at the time.

Since my Zebra article last year, two people have sent me information about other possible Zebra victims. In January, one reader wrote,

Richard Asbury was born on Nov. 11, 1940 and died sometime in the late summer early fall of 1970. He had brown hair and brown eyes, ht. 6'1", wt. 160 lbs. He was in Santa Rosa, CA and I believe he was found in the Russian River. I don't believe he had any tattoos or identifying marks. There is rumor of him having ties with the Hell's Angels, but it is all speculation. I will try to get more information.

And two months ago, I learned of Steve Conachy and yet another unidentified victim.

I found your article on the Zebra killings and wanted to give you some inside info. The first killings took place in Aug 3 1973. To young men were picked up (one in Pacifica in the Fairmont dist. ). One was 18 yrs the other was 21 yrs old. The 21 yrs old’s body was dumped in SF and the other in the San Bruno mountains.

They are the very first 2 and forgotten victims of those sick murders done by Black Muslims in SF in 1973.

Those 2 young men did not know each other. They may have never seen each other until that night. They now rest in Colma 20 ft from each other for all eternity.

How do I know this? One was my older brother….

These murders at the time were not put together, 2 different countys were investagting it. My father was a retired SF plice officer and they thought the killing was to get even with him. Which was not the case. About 6 to 8 weeks later the other murders began and my brother and the other poor soul murders were finally connected, but by that time the press was focus on the new killings and the first victims were forgotten about. But that was the start of it in Aug 3 1973.

Thank you for you time in this matter. It is important to me to get the record right and my brother not a forgotten victim….

Four of the NOI murderers were tried and convicted for the San Francisco killings. They remain in prison today, but they come up periodically for parole:

Jesse Lee Cooks, J.C. Simon (aka J.C.X. Simon), Larry Green and Manuel Moore.

According to crime writer Julia Scheeres, Leroy Doctor was also an NOI assassin. Doctor’s intended victim, Robert Stoeckmann, turned the tables on him, and ended up shooting Doctor three times. Doctor, who lived, was ultimately imprisoned for assault with a deadly weapon. Scheeres is, to my knowledge, the only crime writer so far to list Doctor as an NOI assassin.

Known and Possible Zebra Victims

A partial list of the wounded follows, in Clark Howard’s words:

Richard Hague [Quita’s husband], his face butchered.
“Ellen Linder,” [a pseudonym Howard devised to protect her privacy], raped, ravaged, threatened with death.
Arthur Agnos [who would later be elected mayor], surviving after his insides were ripped up by bullets.
“Angela Roselli,” surviving with nerve damage in her back.
Roxanne McMillian, surviving but paralyzed from the waist down.
Linda Story, surviving with nerve damage in her back.
Ward Anderson, surviving but in serious condition after being shot down at a city bus stop.
Terry White, also surviving, also in serious condition, after being shot down at the same bus stop.

And courtesy of Julia Scheeres, at Court TV’s,
Robert Stoeckmann, grazed in the neck by a shot fired by Leroy Doctor.

A partial list of white NOI murder victims follows, as described by Clark Howard:

Quita Hague, hacked to death….
Frances Rose, her face blown apart by close-range gunshots.
Saleem Erakat, tied up and executed.
Paul Dancik, shot down at a public telephone….
Marietta DiGirolamo, thrown into a doorway and shot to death.
Ilario Bertuccio, killed while walking home from work….
Neal Moynihan, shot down while taking a teddy bear to his little sister.
Mildred Hosler, shot down while walking toward her bus stop.
John Doe #169, kidnapped, tortured, butchered, decapitated.
Tana Smith, murdered on her way to buy blouse material.
Vincent Wollin, murdered on his sixty-ninth birthday.
John Bambic, murdered while rummaging in a trash bin.
Jane Holly, murdered in a public Laundromat….
Thomas Rainwater, shot down on the street as he walked to a market….
And Nelson Shields IV, shot three times in the back as he was straightening out the cargo deck on his station wagon.

And …

Steve Conachy

John Doe (killed with Conachy)

Richard Asbury (?)

I wish to thank all of the retired SFPD officers who so generously helped me in the writing of this article, as well as Mrs. John Fotinos. The majority of my material came from Clark Howard’s 1979 work, Zebra: The true account of the 179 days of terror in San Francisco.

Lest We Forget: Remembering the Zebra Victims

Originally published October 20, 2005 By Nicholas Stix If heinous crimes are forgotten or disappeared, a second injustice is added to the original crimes.

Like homicide detectives, journalists speak for the dead.

October 20 marked the 32nd anniversary of the beginning of the “Zebra Killings” in San Francisco.

Know ye, these dead:

Quita Hague, hacked to death….

Frances Rose, her face blown apart by close-range gunshots.

Saleem Erakat, tied up and executed.

Paul Dancik, shot down at a public telephone….

Marietta DiGirolamo, thrown into a doorway and shot to death.

Ilario Bertuccio, killed while walking home from work….

Neal Moynihan, shot down while taking a teddy bear to his little sister.

Mildred Hosler, shot down while walking toward her bus stop.

John Doe #169, kidnapped, tortured, butchered, decapitated.

Tana Smith, murdered on her way to buy blouse material.

Vincent Wollin, murdered on his sixty-ninth birthday.

John Bambic, murdered while rummaging in a trash bin.

Jane Holly, murdered in a public Laundromat….

Thomas Rainwater, shot down on the street as he walked to a market….

And Nelson Shields IV, shot three times in the back as he was straightening out the cargo deck on his station wagon.

The above passage is from Clark Howard’s 1979 book, Zebra: The true account of the 179 days of terror in San Francisco. I inserted ellipses, because Howard’s list contains both those who were murdered and those who were grievously wounded in San Francisco. I separated the groups into two lists. Herewith the wounded:

Richard Hague [Quita’s husband], his face butchered.

“Ellen Linder,” [a pseudonym Howard devised to protect her privacy], raped, ravaged, threatened with death.

Arthur Agnos [who would later be elected mayor], surviving after his insides were ripped up by bullets.

Angela Roselli, surviving with nerve damage in her back.

Roxanne McMillian, surviving but paralyzed from the waist down.

Linda Story, surviving with nerve damage in her back.

Ward Anderson, surviving but in serious condition after being shot down at a city bus stop.

Terry White, also surviving, also in serious condition, after being shot down at the same bus stop.

And courtesy of Julia Scheeres, at Court TV’s,

Robert Stoeckmann, grazed in the neck by a shot fired by Leroy Doctor.

Howard repeats the list again and again and again, throughout the book; the publisher, Richard Marek, repeats it on the book jacket. Some people may find that tiresome. But Howard did not want those names forgotten; neither do I. And so, if some should find me tiresome, so be it. They can switch to a different, less tiresome Web page.

The nine wounded victims survived due to the incompetence of the Zebra assassins, and in Ellen Linder and Robert Stoeckmann’s respective cases, thanks to their own resourcefulness. Linder psychologically maneuvered her attacker, Jesse Lee Cooks, into letting her live. Stoeckmann ducked from Leroy Doctor’s gun as the latter fired, and then, when Doctor shoved the revolver into Stoeckmann’s gut to finish him off, grabbed the cylinder (which one can only do with a revolver), so that it could not fire. Stoeckmann swung the gun away, it skittered away, and he won the chase for it. When Doctor continued after him, Stoeckmann shot him three times. Doctor was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, but was not charged in any of the Zebra killings.

Jesse Lee Cooks would seek to “atone” for his act of “mercy” in the case of Ellen Lindner, by blowing the face off of Frances Rose.

Arguably the most resourceful of all of the Death Angels’ (in this case, Jesse Lee Cooks, Larry Green, and Anthony Cornelius Harris’) intended victims were the first whom they targeted on October 20, 1973 — Michele Denise Carrasco, and Marie and Frank Stewart. When the Death Angels attempted to kidnap them with a van, in order to murder them, all three ran away. Plucky Michele Denise Carrasco was but 11 years old, Marie Stewart was 12, and Frank was 15.

All of the 24 victims were targeted for death for the same reason: They were white. Their attackers were all members of the black supremacist Nation of Islam (NOI), then primarily known as the Black Muslims, and acted on its behalf. They were members of the “Death Angels,” a branch of the NOI which existed for the sole purpose of murdering white people. The Death Angels had a scoring system, whereby they got more points for murdering women and children than grown men; their pathological cowardice had a numerical system. Clark Howard writes,

“Death Angels wings were awarded to each man who killed four white children, five white women, or nine white men. Upon completion of the required quota, a new member’s photograph was taken and a pair of black wings were drawn extending from the neck. The photo was mounted on a board along with pictures of other successful candidates, and the board was displayed on an easel at the loft meetings” at Black Self Help Moving and Storage.

The Death Angels were nurtured on a steady diet of NOI theology — that whites were “blue-eyed devils, “white devils,” and “grafted snakes,” a wicked race that had been created anywhere from 1,000-6,000 years ago by an evil black scientist named Yacub. (The number of years and method of Yacub changes from one version to another.) Actually, “the Myth of Yacub” was ripped off from black journalist George S. Schuyler’s classic, 1931 racial satire, Black No More. Schuyler in turn had been influenced by H.G. Wells.

Eight members of the NOI in San Francisco were arrested for the Zebra killings, but only four were prosecuted; all of the latter were convicted. They were Jesse Lee Cooks, J.C. Simon (aka J.C.X. Simon), Larry Green and Manuel Moore. The NOI paid for the defense of all but Cooks. The NOI wrote Cooks off as a traitor, because he alone confessed to a crime, the murder of Frances Rose. A black Moslem is never permitted to confess to a crime “in the white man’s court.” The police also had Cooks for the rape of Ellen Linder, and each crime could have gotten him a maximum life sentence. Prosecutors agreed — with Linder’s permission — to drop the rape charge, if Cooks would confess to the Frances Rose killing. (Cooks was caught minutes after the Frances Rose killing, mere blocks away, with the murder weapon in his waistband.)

Tom Manney, the manager of Black Self Help, and Dwight Stallings were also arrested but released, for lack of evidence. I have not been able to determine the names of the other two suspects who were released. For some peculiar reason, Howard refers to one by the pseudonym, “Jasper Childs.” All but one of the arrestees worked for the black Moslem business, Self Help Moving and Storage; Cooks worked for the Black Muslim-owned, Shabazz Bakery.

The convictions of J.C. Simon, Larry Green, and Manuel Moore were secured almost entirely through the testimony of one of their accomplices, Anthony Cornelius Harris.

Harris responded, as the authorities had hoped someone would, to enhanced reward money that was offered from a variety of public and private sources, for information leading to the arrest of the Zebra killers. The catalyst for Harris’ initiative, however, was a police artist’s sketch of two suspects, one of whom clearly was Harris.

Harris denied to police that he had committed any killings, but he obviously had been present at many of them, and thus an accomplice, and Clark Howard concluded from interviews with various Zebra killers and inspectors, and police reports, that Harris had murdered John Bambic. Harris also sought and got immunity, and new identities for himself, his girlfriend, and her child.

A note on the term “Zebra.” In the context of the NOI’s genocidal campaign, “Zebra” has been considered by many blacks to be controversial, and even racist. They are offended by the term’s black-on-white imagery. The term was employed by the SFPD, because the Department reserved radio frequency “Z” for all broadcasts related to the specific killing spree at hand. Killings were considered a part of the spree that were committed execution-style by a black against a white, using a .32 gun. (Only after Anthony Harris came in, did police discover that the machete killing of Quita Hague was a Zebra killing. Police also did not associate the Hague killing with the Zebra killings that followed it, because Jesse Lee Cooks sexually molested Quita Hague, and robbed the couple.) For clarity’s sake, all military and police organizations use a term for each letter in the alphabet. Thus, when one refers to “A Company,” one instead says, “Alpha Company;” for “B Company,” “Bravo Company,” and so on. One proceeds similarly when reading off a license plate number to a police dispatcher. For Z, one says “Zebra.”

But consider the blacks’ perspective. A black death squad is roaming around San Francisco, murdering whites in cold blood for no other reason than that they are white. It’s only natural that black folks would ignore the genocide in their midst, and focus on their feelings of racial slight, at the term used for the radio frequency police were using to try and solve the killings. The poor dears.

Note that this was over thirty years ago. Black sensitivities have since become much more refined. “Refugees,” anyone?

Howard recounts how local newspaper reporters interviewed blacks all over town, but could not find a single one who expressed any sorrow or sympathy for the victims. In fact, black San Franciscans were angry! After all, weren’t police focusing solely on black men? One black newspaper reporter even sought to embarrass police officials at a press conference, by insinuating that they should not be focusing on black men. In a show of common sense that today could spell career suicide, a police official reminded the scribe that all of the suspects were black men.

As some black residents commonsensically responded to a reporter’s question as to whether they felt afraid on the streets, no; the killers were only targeting whites.

But it gets worse.

On the night of January 28, 1974, the Death Angels dramatically upped the ante, shooting five whites, four of whom died, in five separate attacks.

The SFPD responded by circulating artists’ sketches of two suspects, and began stopping and questioning youngish, clean-cut black men who resembled the sketches. Howard writes,

The police began issuing specially printed ‘Zebra Check’ cards: identification cards about the size of a driver’s license, containing space for an individual’s name, address, driver’s license number, Social Security number, and the date, time, and location where he was stopped. The officer making the stop had to sign the card and note his badge number. If the person was stopped again, all he had to do was show the card along with his identification, and he was allowed to proceed without further delay.

The black organizations were not satisfied. They were determined to interfere with the police effort in any way they could.

I believe the legal term is, “obstruction of justice.”

The only black community leader who showed any decency was Dr. Washington Garner, a member of the three-man police commission, who reminded blacks that in the case of the Nob Hill serial rapist, in which the suspect was white, police had proceeded in identical fashion, stopping hundreds of white men for questioning.

Black organizations ignored Dr. Garner. The NAACP sued, and local Rev. Cecil Williams threatened a race war — as if the race war were not already in progress.

Officer Jesse Byrd (spelled Bird by some sources), the president of the segregated, black SFPD officers’ organization, Officers for Justice, also demanded an end to the street stops.

The local newspapers did show some gumption that they have long since lost. As Howard recounts, the San Francisco Examiner supported the stops, though in diplomatic language, while the San Francisco Chronicle was adamant in support of them.

The Zebra murders have brought out the police on highly visible, and reassuring patrols of the streets. The patrols are called ‘extreme measures’ by Mayor Alioto, who invoked them, and since their purpose is to involve police in stopping and questioning black men who may resemble a Zebra suspect, the procedure has created a certain amount of restiveness and complaint from black citizens and organizations. It is, however, hard to accept such complaints as justifiable. If the killers are black, there would be no point in stopping white men for questioning….

According to SFPD homicide Inspector (many other cities call the same rank, “detective”) Gus Coreris, who with his partner, Insp. John Fotinos, ran the case, at least one black officer conspired with the NOI to murder the one witness without whom no one besides Jesse Lee Cooks could ever have been prosecuted. (Cooks was apprehended minutes after he murdered Frances Rose, in the vicinity of the killing.)

Inspectors Coreris and Fotinos secreted away Anthony Harris, his girlfriend, Debbie, and her baby in a motel. One day, while Harris was in the shower, Debbie called her NOI minister’s wife. The wife asked Debbie where she was staying, and Debbie told her. Within minutes, a squad of NOI assassins showed up to kill everyone. Coreris and Fotinos were able to sneak Harris and family out of the motel only seconds ahead of the NOI assassins, who, aware yet indifferent to the presence of the two inspectors, were conducting a room-to-room search of the motel.

After Harris and family were moved to a hotel, the NOI hit squad continued its fevered search for him.

When Insp. Coreris got back to his office the evening after rescuing Anthony Harris, there was a message waiting for him from a black police officer. The officer came to visit Coreris, and asked him for the new address where Anthony Harris was being secreted. The officer admitted to Coreris that members of the NOI had asked him to get the information. Coreris told the officer that the information was none of his business, and that Coreris would report him to his superiors.

Thus, a black police officer — at least one — conspired with the NOI to obstruct justice and murder a government witness.

And what happened, you may ask, to the rogue cop? Nothing.

One black policeman, homicide Insp. Rotea Gilford, did heroic work during the Zebra investigation. Insp. Gilford, the city’s first black homicide inspector, brought in Dwight Stallings. Insp. Gilford had grown up with Stallings, and knew Stallings had blood on his hands, but he lacked sufficient evidence to make the arrest stick. Gilford and Stallings have both since died.

Note that the Zebra killings were not the stuff of a tiny conspiracy. At least one dozen NOI member/killers attended regular Death Angel meetings at Black Self Help Moving and Storage. And at the NOI’s San Francisco headquarters, Mosque #26, the existence of the Death Angels, though not the exact identity of all of its members, was common knowledge.

The NOI’s local goal was to run all whites out of the city by the bay, and establish San Francisco (though surely with a new name) as America’s first Moslem city.

But these devils and their works were not limited to San Francisco.

As Howard writes, already by October 20, 1973, “there were 15 accredited Death Angels in California.” With the dozen aspiring Death Angels attending the loft meetings at Black Self help, that makes for 27. But there may have been as many as 50 Death Angels.

The California attorney general’s office had compiled a list of 71 execution-style murders committed around the state, either with a machete or a pistol, in which the killer or killers was always a well-dressed and groomed youngish black man, and the victim always white. In addition to San Francisco, the murders were carried out in Oakland, San Jose, Emeryville, Berkeley, Long Beach, Signal Hill, Santa Barbara, Palo Alto, Pacifica, San Diego, Los Angeles, and in the counties of San Mateo, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, Contra Costa, Ventura and Alameda. The NOI genocide campaign had actually begun approximately three years before the San Francisco killings.

State police also acted in the professional manner of a bygone era. Dick Walley, of the state California Department of Justice’s Intelligence Analysis Unit (IAU), requested and got permission to “establish a central repository for all information pertaining to homicides with the following modus operandi: hackings, unprovoked street attacks, hitchhike kidnappings; all unexplained homicides of a similar nature, and all black-perpetrator/white-victim homicides.”

Imagine how large such a database would be today!

According to Clark Howard, however, the true number of Zebra murders was “just under 270.” And all of the Zebra killers but the four convicts and Anthony Harris have remained at large, ever since.

Lou Calabro, a retired SFPD lieutenant who was a sergeant at the time of the San Francisco killings, has labored for years to keep the memory of the Zebra killings alive, and to keep the convicts, who periodically come up for parole, in jail. In a recent telephone interview, Calabro told me that a team effort is required to ascertain the identities of all of the Zebra victims throughout the State of California. Calabro is the president of the European American Issues forum.
Since the NOI had revealed itself to be the deadliest domestic terrorist organization in American history, you’d expect that the FBI would have launched a national campaign against it, dwarfing its campaign against the Ku Klux Klan. But you’d be wrong. There was no FBI campaign. Indeed, it is the NOI that launched a campaign against the FBI, insisting that the Bureau had orchestrated the assassination of Malcolm X (Malcolm Little), who was in reality murdered by NOI assassins.

One of the greatest true crime stories ever written, Zebra is one of the best books you can’t buy, except used. And it’s not for lack of interest. It was printed once in hardcover and once in paper, and in spite of its fame and popularity, never reprinted. Peculiar, that.

You’d think that movies would have been based on it, but you’d be wrong. There is a move afoot to make a movie about the killings, only with a black policemen-hero, in inspectors Gus Coreris and John Fotinos’ stead. And that “hero” is not Insp. Rotea Gilford, but rather a politician named Ed Sanders, who via Officers for Justice made it all the way to chief, but who made no contribution that I could find to the Zebra investigation.

You’d think that such a heinous campaign of murder would be taught across the generations, so that no one would ever forget. But you’d be wrong. According to crime writer Julia Scheeres, few San Franciscans today are aware of the Zebra killings. Imagine it is the year 2031, and few New Yorkers are aware of 911.

I guess that after preaching against the evils of white, heterosexual males, the San Francisco public schools just don’t have any time left to teach about the Zebra killings.

Meanwhile, San Francisco journalists today are either silent about the Zebra killings, or have diminished and revised them beyond recognition, including editing out their racial character. And in academia, alleged historians have “disappeared” the history of the Zebra killings. And when anyone seeks to give students even indirect access to learn about the murders, the “historians” seek to destroy him.

But the unwriting of the Zebra murders is a topic for another time.

After reading this report, you may wonder, “Could Zebra happen again?”

What makes you think it hasn’t?

Quita Hague
Frances Rose
Saleem Erakat
Paul Dancik
Marietta DiGirolamo
Ilario Bertuccio
Neal Moynihan
Mildred Hosler
John Doe #169
Tana Smith
Vincent Wollin
John Bambic
Jane Holly
Thomas Rainwater
Nelson Shields IV
Richard Hague
“Ellen Linder”
Arthur Agnos
Angela Roselli
Roxanne McMillian
Linda Story
Ward Anderson
Terry White
Robert Stoeckmann

And those of their attackers that were apprehended: Jesse Lee Cooks, J.C. Simon (aka J.C.X. Simon), Larry Green, Manuel Moore, Leroy Doctor and Anthony Cornelius Harris.