MOST SERIAL KILLINGS in America take on a life of their own through movies, books and documentaries. The crimes of Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer and The Son of Sam are still well remembered years after they were committed. Yet there is one set of serial killings that has been almost completely forgotten and is rarely mentioned in popular culture.
The Zebra Killings occurred in the San Francisco bay area between 1972 and 1974 and left 71 people dead. They were dubbed the Zebra Killings because of the radio channel used by the police investigating the case (channel Z). The name would take on a more sinister meaning as it became apparent that a group of blacks was systematically stalking and killing whites simply because of the color of their skin.Zebra (1979) was written by crime writer Clark Howard and remains the definitive book on the murders. Using court records, police reports, witnesses and interviews with the killers themselves, Howard was able to piece together the horrid details of the murders and the unrelenting hatred that inspired the killers.The majority of the attacks were carried out by five members of a group within Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam called the “Death Angels.” Jesse Lee Cooks, J.C. Simon, Larry Green, Manuel Moore and Anthony Harris were part of this group which believed that whites were created 3,000 years ago by a black mad scientist named Yacub who wanted a race of inferiors to rule over. Death Angels believed they could earn “points” towards going to heaven when they died if they killed whites. For them, whites were not human beings but “grafted snakes,” “blue-eyed devils” and “white motherf—–s.”Howard describes the vicious and cowardly nature of the attacks, which were made at gunpoint and mostly carried out against women and weak or old men who could not fight back. The first victims in San Francisco were a couple named Richard and Quita Hague. The Hagues were out for an after dinner walk when they were abducted at gunpoint and forced into a van. They were bound and Richard was beaten over the head with a lug wrench and knocked unconscious. Quita was sexually molested and hacked with a machete. While begging for her life she was decapitated. Before leaving, the attackers hacked at the face of the still unconscious man. Miraculously, he survived and was able to give valuable information to the police.Brutality and a lack of remorse on the part of the criminals mark the attacks. Vincent Wollin was shot in the back and killed on his 69th birthday. Mildred Hosler, an obese, older woman was shot while frantically trying to get away from her younger, faster attacker. Ilario Bertucci, a 135-pound, 81-year-old man, was killed while walking home from work. Marietta DiGirolamo, a 5’1″ white woman was shot and killed on her way to a neighborhood bar. In none of these cases did the victims do anything to provoke the murderers. They simply had white skin and were in the wrong place at the wrong time.There were even some high profile victims. Art Agnos, who would later go on to become mayor of San Francisco, was shot and almost killed by the Death Angels. A member of the California Commission on Aging, Agnos was attending a community meeting in a black neighborhood to discuss building a government funded health clinic in the area. In the same neighborhood the killers were hunting for whites. As the meeting let out, Agnos stopped to talk with two women. One of the killers came up behind him and shot him twice in the back. The bullets ripped apart his lungs, spleen and kidneys. Bystanders called an ambulance and Agnos barely survived.Lou Calabro was a street patrol sergeant with the San Francisco Police
Department at the time and notes that as the murders added up, the SFPD came under increasing pressure to stop the killings:“In what was known as Operation Zebra, more police were put on the street and security checks were beefed up. Despite the increased police presence, the attacks did not stop. They would often happen when we were on full alert. Some officers suspected a black cop who was a member of ‘Officers for Justice,’ a black police officers association formed to get more promotions for themselves, was tipping off the killers, though this was never proven. We were very frustrated at not being able to stop the killings.”
The increased police presence had the effect of angering the black community. Twenty years before the Los Angeles riots and O.J. Simpson trial, blacks were already making statements to the press that showed a stunning lack of remorse for what was happening to their white neighbors. Howard quotes from interviews conducted by the San Francisco Examiner in 1974. Among the responses by blacks were, “I don’t feel comfortable with all the police around. But then, I never have felt safe around them.” A young housewife stated, “I’m really glad the police are concerned for a change. I just wonder if they would be as much concerned if it were black people getting killed.” A black lawyer added, “I commend the police for their beefing up of the force, but I hope it’s not just directed at blacks. I hope blacks aren’t being harassed.”
Still other blacks blamed “unemployment” and “oppression” for the attacks. One man said, “the madness that drives black men to kill innocent people . . . involves a sickness that is as American as apple pie.” Black Panther leader Bobby Seale declared, “every black man in the Bay area is in danger of losing his life.” The Reverend Cecil Williams claimed that the entire black community was “under a police state that could erupt into a racial war.” Howard observes, “although they were responding only to a question about Operation Zebra, it was curious that none of the blacks interviewed took the occasion to condemn the unknown street killers or express sympathy for the victims.”
Detectives Gus Coreris and John Fotinos were 13-year veterans of the Homicide Unit and led the investigation which eventually cracked the case. Though they both suspected the Black Muslims, it was hard to get any information on the possible suspects because of a ban on surveillance of religious institutions. Moreover, the closed atmosphere of the NOI made it hard to get spies into the organization.
Coreris and Fotinos were able to link the murders because the killers were using the same weapon for each attack. They were also able to put together information and descriptions from those who survived such as Agnos and Hague. The case was solved when one of the members of the Death Angels came forward with information on the other killers. A total of eight black men with previous records were arrested. All were members of the Death Angels. Though this group committed most of the killings, they do not account for all of the criminals. Some are still free to this day.
The Nation of Islam paid for the legal representation of every one of the killers except Cooks, who immediately admitted to his murders. The Death Angels are still in prison but are up for parole in 2002. The European American Issues Forum (EAIF), headed by Calabro, has pledged to attend the parole hearings and work to insure that the killers spend the rest of their lives in jail. In addition, on October 19 of this year, the EAIF will hold its fifth annual Zebra Victims Memorial Service on the steps of San Francisco City Hall. As with the previous five ceremonies, government and community leaders such as Mayor Willie Brown and the leader of the local NAACP will be invited to attend. They have declined to attend any of the ceremonies so far and are not likely to show up this year. Indeed, the lack of publicity and recognition of these racially motivated hate crimes is consistent with the efforts of government agencies, civil rights groups and the media to portray European-Americans as the only perpetrators of hate crimes.
Remember, a total of 40 people, according to the National Civil Rights Memorial , were murdered in the Civil Rights Era by white racists in the South from 1954 to 1968.
Remembering The Zebra Killings By: James Lubinskas
“MOST SERIAL KILLINGS in America take on a life of their own through movies, books and documentaries. The crimes of Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer and The Son of Sam are still well remembered years after they were committed. Yet there is one set of serial killings that has been almost completely forgotten and is rarely mentioned in popular culture.
The Zebra Killings occurred in the San Francisco bay area between 1972 and 1974 and left 73 people dead. They were dubbed the Zebra Killings because of the radio channel used by the police investigating the case (channel Z). The name would take on a more sinister meaning as it became apparent that a group of blacks was systematically stalking and killing whites simply because of the color of their skin.
Zebra (1979) was written by crime writer Clark Howard and remains the definitive book on the murders. Using court records, police reports, witnesses and interviews with the killers themselves, Howard was able to piece together the horrid details of the murders and the unrelenting hatred that inspired the killers……
A few hours after he dropped a dime from a pay phone, detectives brought him to a police station for questioning. He spilled all the beans, telling them about the Death Angels and the point system based on killing white people.
Howard writes that the Black Muslim sect believed white people were an inferior race created by evil scientist named Yacub, and that by killing “blue-eyed devils” or “grafted snakes” — as they called Caucasians — they would be guaranteed entry to heaven. The cops couldn’t believe their ears. But as Harris talked to them, they realized he was the real deal. Only a person who had witnessed the murders would be able to recount them in such detail.
Harris also told them about a killing that hadn’t made the paper, that of a young white homeless man the group had kidnapped from Ghirardelli Square. The men had brought the man back to Black Self Help, stripped him naked and tied him to a column in the loft, Howard writes. Then each of the men had chosen a weapon — a knife, a meat cleaver, a machete — and taken turns hacking him to pieces. Harris told the detectives that he’d dumped the body into the San Francisco Bay.
While the Bay Area around San Francisco gets most of the attention in news stories about the Zebra Killings, this campaign of racist murders by the Nation of Islam (Black Muslims) was probably nation wide with 73 whites murdered in the Bay area alone.
Here is a news story about more Zebra murders in Sacramento.
SACRAMENTO (AP) – Three Black Muslim youths face life in prison after what the prosecution called random attacks on white men in the name of Muslim teachings.
All three were convicted in Sacramento County Superior Court Saturday of first-degree murder in the death of a white man who was on San Francisco Mayor Joseph L. Alioto’s “Zebra murders” list. The list contained the names of 73 persons whose killings in California since September, 1970, were characterized — Alioto said – by the pattern of operations of a Muslim-related Death Angel group.
But this was not the work of a “splinter” group, the murders were not limited to San Francisco, and it wasn’t a few whites in San Francisco. The mass murder campaign was orchestrated out of the NOI’s headquarters in “New Mecca” (Chicago), was run through each city’s local mosque, and 17 whites were murdered in the City by the Bay alone, just during the period of October, 1973-April 1974.
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[by Dawna Bowles (C)2014-15] all photography, poetry, and stories are (C) unless posted otherwise.