The Zebra Murders were a series of racially motivated, yet seemingly random murders that took place in San Francisco in 1973 and 1974. Several people survived attacks related to these murders as well. The perpetrators of the murders and violent attacks were dubbed the “Zebra Killers.”
The names Zebra Killers and Zebra Murders originated in the San Francisco press. Local law enforcement had reserved channel Z on their radios strictly for the case. Presumably, the fact that the crimes were committed by black people against white people and black people had something to do with the designation too.
The first known Zebra Murder took place on October 19, 1973. A young married couple, Quita and Richard Hague, were out walking in San Francisco when they were assaulted by two young, well-dressed black men. They were forced into a white van. Quita was sexually assaulted and then stabbed in the neck several times with a machete. Her head was nearly severed. After watching his wife be murdered, Richard was tortured and left for dead. He was found stumbling in the streets of San Francisco. The skin on his skull was hanging off in strips.
At this point, the police knew that a horrific crime had taken place, but there was no way of knowing how much the situation was going to escalate. They found out soon enough. Another Zebra Murder occurred ten days later. Twenty-eight-year-old Frances Rose was pulling up to the University of California’s Berkeley Campus when a young black man asked her for a ride. She tried to pull away, but the man opened the passenger side door and shot her three times. She died as a result.
Another Zebra Killers attack occurred on November 9, 1973. A man named Leroy Doctor cornered 26-year-old Robert Stoeckmann and put a gun to his face. After a struggle, during which Robert was grazed by a bullet, Robert wound up with the gun. He shot Leroy three times. Police found him nearby. He was arrested and convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. If police thought that they had the killer, they were wrong. Leroy was definitely involved, but he was not the only one by a long shot.
On November 25, 1973, Saleen Erakat was shot and killed in his grocery store by a black man. Saleen was not even white. He was Arabic, but apparently, he was too pale for the Zebra Killer’s liking. On December 11, 1973, one of the Zebra Killers targeted a young heroin addict who had stopped to use a pay phone during his search for a fix. Paul Dancik was shot three times and died in the street.
Two attacks occurred on December 13. San Francisco’s mayor was shot by one of the Zebra Killers. He almost died. Later that night, 31-year-old Marietta DiGirolamo was shot three times in the street. Another double attack happened a week later. On December 20, 1973, Angela Roselli was shot three times in the street. She was only 20-years-old when she died. The next Zebra Murder victim of the night was 81-year-old Ilario Bertuccio. He was shot four times. Like Angela, he died in the street. The next double attack happened two nights later. Nineteen-year-old Neal Moynihan and 50-year-old Mildred Hosler were shot and killed within minutes of each other.
December 28, 1973, brought the worst night the Zebra Killers ever gave San Francisco. The following were Zebra Murders that occurred that night. All of the victims were shot. Jane Holly, 45 was shot in a laundromat. Tana Smith, 32, was shot twice in the street. Vincent Wollin, 69, was also shot twice in the street. John Bambic, 84, shot in the back in the street. Roxanne McMillan, 23, was lucky enough to escape with her life. She was shot twice as she walked from her car. She was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
Obviously, the killings were unnerving San Francisco residents. Furthermore, tourists were afraid to visit the city. Who could blame them? The police were unable to do anything and after the bloodbath on December 28, the Zebra Murders stopped for several months. In April of 1974, five more people were attacked. Two of them died. The police were forced to offer a reward after they were unable to continue stopping people who fit the description due to civil rights issues. The reward worked.
A man named Anthony Harris came to the police with information about a group called the Death Angels. They were the Zebra Killers that had been terrorizing the city. Anthony explained to the police that they all worked at Black Self Help Moving and Storage, as had Leroy Doctor. These men were a sect of Black Muslims who had radical ideas that are not associated with Black Muslims in general. They believed that an evil scientist had created white people and that they were inferior. They also believed that killing white people was a ticket to heaven. Police knew Harris was telling the truth when he told them about a murder that the public did not know about. A man had been chopped into pieces at the warehouse. The police found the body the previous December.
The Zebra Murders ended when police raided Black Self Help Moving and Storage. Seven men were arrested. Three were released. Jesse Lee Cooks, Manuel Moore, J.C. Simon and Larry Green faced a trial that lasted more than a year-the longest in San Francisco history. They were all convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. There were people, at the time, who believed that the men were innocent. There is no denying that the crimes stopped when they were detained. It is highly likely that the police got the Zebra Killers. Larry Green laughing as he heard the verdict could be seen as even further proof of their guilt.
The Zebra Killers, retrieved 9/2/10, trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/mass/zebra_murders/index.html