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.


Blogger james clifford said...

Looks like there will be a movie about Zerba, based on Sanders' book and starring Jamie Foxx. Please see my comments in my blog, "Philip's Code" on blogspot.
James O. Clifford

Friday, November 2, 2007 at 8:47:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Susan VDB said...

This is the first time I have read this. Thank you for posting it. Joey was my cousin. Our large family continues to miss him and sadly, closure has been difficult even after 40+ years because the perpetrators were never charged. I think, though, we have made our peace with our loss.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at 7:53:00 PM PST  
Blogger Nicholas said...

Please accept my heartfelt condolences on your loss.

Thursday, December 24, 2015 at 2:48:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Mike said...

Susan, I would love to touch base with you. We have a shared interest in this case. I have spoken with Nicholas in the past, my family never learned to make peace with this., we only learned to live with it.

Monday, February 8, 2016 at 1:33:00 PM PST  
Blogger Susan VDB said...

Hello Mike, I'm not sure what you meant by "touch base"? For anyone who has lost a loved one to murder, there is no turning the clock back. We can only move forward, forgive our offenders, and not allow their violent act destroy our family. This is how we have made our peace. God's justice is the final judgement. Sin is never singular; it is like overgrown ivy that spreads its roots far and wide. Joey is forever in our hearts, and no one can take that from us. I look forward to reconnecting with Joey and other loved ones when I finally go home to my Savior Jesus Christ. He gives us peace that passes all understanding. I hope you and your family know Christ and have been blessed with His peace, grace, mercy and love. There is no greater love. I am deeply sorry for the suffering you and your family have had to endure. I'm sure you have known you are not alone.

Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 9:38:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Susan, Wish I could do this some where else other than here. I’ve tried to have the case reopened a number of years back. As stated in the article my Dad was an SF police officer. He knew the inspectors on Steve’s case, I believe Joey was handled by San Mateo county. As the killing continued, they knew my brother and Joey were the first victims of what later will be known as the Zebra killings. Yet no one is in prison for them. I’ve tried to have the case relooked at and if possible use DNA evidence. Something they didn’t have back then. However there doesn’t seem to be an interest in taking a fresh look at it. That was the topic I wanted to discuss. But, I also understand why family members would much rather not bring that up. So anyway, that is what I meant by “touching base”. Our family has carried on, but come Aug 3rd, a tear is still shed.

Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 12:41:00 PM PST  

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