The Zebra Killings
In 1970s America, a gang of hate-filled fanatics in a vilely bigoted religious cult slaughtered their way through an unknown number of innocent victims who were chosen purely for the colour of their skin. But today the case is almost forgotten: there are no anniversaries, no memorials, no retrospective films and TV documentaries. Why? Because the hate-filled fanatics were black and the innocent victims white. Below are extracts from Clark Howard’s The Zebra Killings, a book that imaginatively reconstructs these scandalously under-reported crimes. The book’s lessons grow more urgent and important by the day, for the “Zebra killings” will be repeated on a much larger scale throughout America and Europe if we whites do not separate ourselves from the blacks and other non-whites who hate us and long to destroy us.
The meetings were held in the loft of a San Francisco warehouse. They were conducted by a dignified black man with a Vandyke beard. He wore a business suit and spoke in a quiet, almost ministerial tone.
“The population of the white man in North America has reached one hundred and three million. The population of the black man is only seventeen million. But” – he held a stiff forefinger next to one ear – “the population of the white man throughout the world is only four hundred million, while the population of the black man throughout the world has now reached four and a half billion.”
He turned and strolled at a measured pace before one wall of the loft. Facing him, sitting on old but comfortable club chairs and sofas, was an audience of a dozen black men. Their eyes followed him as he strolled.
“There are fifty-seven million square miles of land on the earth. The white man uses only six million square miles; the black man uses nearly four times that amount: twenty-three million square miles.”
In two corners of the room, facing the audience, the speaker’s bodyguards stood: two large, powerful black men with narrowed, darting eyes that constantly scanned the attentive faces. These men accompanied the speaker everywhere, one of them driving the Continental in which he rode, the other opening doors for him wherever he went.
“So on the earth today,” the speaker continued, “there are more black men than white, and the black men occupy and use more land than the white.” He stopped strolling and his voice took on a noticeable edge. “Why then has the white man been able to set himself up as our superior? Why has he been able to control our race for four hundred years? To answer that question” – the forefinger went up again – “we must go back in time and learn how the white man came to be.”
The speaker returned to the center of the wall and faced his audience. Something seemed to be happening to his eyes; they were becoming wider, and whiter.
“A thousand years ago, near the holy city of Mecca, there lived an evil black leader named Yakub. He desired to create a race of weak people that he and his ancestors could rule forever. To do this, he began to study the black race. He learned that in every black man there exists two germs: a black germ and a brown germ. He found a way to separate the brown germs from the black germs, and he put the brown germs into all the healthy, strong girls among his followers who were at least sixteen years of age. As they produced babies, he had the black ones separated and fed to wild beasts, but he had the brown ones carefully nursed and raised to adults. When he passed a law that blacks who were alike could not marry; only those who were unlike could marry. Black had to marry brown. Dark had to marry light, and light had to marry lighter.
“Yakub was pleased because he saw his people becoming weaker and weaker, while he and those who ruled with him remained black and strong. For six hundred years there continued this process of grafting brown from black, and lighter brown from darker brown, until finally the original black blood had thinned so much and become so weak that the germ it carried lost all its color and became white. Weak, wicked white.”
From the audience came several low grunts of disapproval. The speaker nodded agreement with them.
“By the time the descendants of Yakub realized what had been done, it was too late. The grafted white devils had spread over the earth and were teaching lessons about a new, mysterious god that no one could see until after death. Soon eighty-five percent of the people on earth were being taught about this mystery god. They were being taught by ten percent who were clever and crafty and desired to lead them. Only a scant five percent of the earth’s population remained righteously believing in the true god, Allah.”
The speaker raised his forefinger like a vengeful sword. “For four hundred years these white infidels have spread their false religion over the land like a great dirty plague, trying to put out the light of Allah. Christians and Jews alike are guilty of setting up rivals to Allah. Both are black-slave-making religions dedicated to the mental destruction of the black man. They are the enemies of Allah and they are the sole people responsible for leading astray nine-tenths of the world’s black population.”
“Evil!” one of the men in the audience said loudly.
The speaker’s eyes widened even more. His voice grew raspy, hissing. “For four hundred years this grafted white devil has controlled the earth and manipulated the black man. For four hundred years he has castrated black men, raped black women and stomped the heads of little black babies!”
“Devils!” said a voice in the audience. It was the same man who had spoken before. He was a thick-necked black man with a clean-shaven skull and eyes like bullet holes. The only soft feature of his entire presence was his long, almost feminine eyelashes. Under the overhead light, his shiny skull glistened. Call this man Head.
“For four hundred years,” the speaker now began to rant, “we, the true followers of Allah, the true Muslims of the earth, have suffered persecution at the hands of this grafted white devil who came from our very own diluted seed! We have been relegated to ghettos, deprived of a decent education, victimized in the labor market, and sent to the white man’s prisons!” The forefinger whipped across the audience. “There are some in this very room who can give witness to the injustices wreaked on us in the white man’s prisons.”
“Right on!” said Head. He was one who could give such witness.
“All right!” said a young, light-skinned Negro next to him. So light that his skin had faint freckles on it, he was seven years younger than Head, who was twenty-eight, and handsome in a boyish way. Unlike Head, he could not give witness to anything about the white man’s prison, because he had never even been arrested, much less incarcerated. In the muted overhead light, with the dark contrast of Head next to him, he looked almost yellow-skinned. Call him Yellow.
“But we do not need the white man’s prisons to prove to us that the white man is our enemy,” the Vandyked speaker continued. “We need only to study our lessons from this” – he removed a small book from his inside pocket. “Message to the Black Man,” he said, lowering his voice to a reverent tone to read the book’s title. Opening the cover, he recited a prayer from the first page. “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Most Merciful Savior, to whom all praise is due for raising up among us a Divine Leader, Teacher, and Guide, the most honorable Elijah Muhammad. As-salaam-allaikum.”
“As-salaam-allaikum,” the audience repeated in concert. It was a traditional Muslim saying, “Peace be with you.”
“Turn to the subject of Islam in this book and you will find your answer as to who is the enemy of Allah,” the speaker said. “Turn to the fourth question and the fourth answer and you will see, you will learn. Listen! The fourth question: ‘Does Allah have enemies, and who are they?’ The fourth answer: ‘The enemies of Allah are known at the present as the white race or European race, who are the sole people responsible for misleading nine-tenths of the total population of the black nation.’ That” – he stabbed the air above him with his forefinger – “tells us who our enemy is. Now you tell me!”
“The grafted white devil!” said Head.
“White devils!” said Yellow.
“Whites – whites – whites!” said the others in a low chant. Only one man in the audience did not respond. He was the third man who sat on the couch with Head and Yellow. He was the same age as Head, and like Head had been in the white man’s prison. The two had met in San Quentin; this one had only recently been released. Nothing about his appearance was unusual; he had neither the boyish good looks of Yellow, nor the cold-eyed countenance of Head. He was simply ordinary-looking. What was extraordinary about him lay under the surface, unseen. It rested in his hands, which were lethal, and his feet, which were deadly. He was an expert at kung fu and jujitsu. Call this one Judo.
“Now that we know the enemy,” the speaker said, “what do we do about him?” He smiled, parting the hair around his pink lips. “Simply read the laws of Mohammed. Read the tenth lesson, which asks, ‘Why does Mohammed and any Moslem murder the devil?’ And answers, ‘Because the devil is one hundred percent wicked and will not keep and obey the laws of Islam.’ His ways and actions are like a snake of the grafted type. Mohammed has learned that he cannot reform the white devils, so they must be murdered. All Moslems will murder the white devil because they know he is a snake. Each Moslem is required to kill four devils, and by bringing and presenting four at one time, his reward is a button to wear on the lapel of his coat, and free transportation to the holy city of Mecca to see Brother Mohammed.”
“Praise Brother Mohammed!” the men in the audience said as one voice. Again except for Judo, who remained silent.
“The lessons are clear,” the speaker said. His eyes were very wide now, the eyeballs quivering white globes that rolled over the faces before him. “The lessons say who the enemy is!”
“The lessons say what to do about the enemy!”
“Kill the grafted snake!”
“Kill the evil whites!”
“Kill the blue-eyed devils!”
“Kill! Kill! Kill!”
The chant was low, murmured, sloshing across the room like dirty water in a flooded basement. It came from mechanized mouths below mesmerized eyes, robotlike, hypnotic, uncontrollable.
While the chant was going on, the speaker quietly left. His bodyguards opened the doors for him and followed him downstairs and out back to where the Continental was parked. They drove away into the night.
Behind, in the loft, the chant went on, created by the voices of all the men who had listened to the speaker (pp. 21-25).
Death Angel 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 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 (pp. 35-36).
“Come on, man, I want me a white woman or a kid, hear?” said Yellow. “I don’t want to fuck with no men.” He drove past the man on the corner. Head muttered something but did not object further.
Yellow turned left off Battery and began cruising the Telegraph Hill area.
In their apartment at 399 Chestnut Street, Richard Hague and his wife Quita decided to go for a walk after dinner. It was a pleasant evening. Richard put on a light cardigan; Quita pulled a yellow-and-orange South American woolen shawl around her shoulders, over the sweatshirt and cardigan she already had on. They left the apartment and walked west on Chestnut, toward Columbus Avenue.
Richard Hague, age thirty, was a mining engineer employed in the San Francisco office of Utah International Company. Quita, two years younger, was a reporter for the Industrial City press in South San Francisco. The previous month they had celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary.
As they walked downhill on Chestnut, they held hands.
Richard and Quita Hague were white.
“There you are, man,” Head said to Yellow when he saw the young white couple. “There’s a woman for you and a man for me.”
“What about him?” asked Yellow, bobbing his chin toward Judo and speaking as if he were not even present.
“His heart ain’t ready,” Head replied with a sneer.
“Fuck you, man!” Judo snapped.
“Pull over there by the corner,” Head instructed, ignoring Judo.
Yellow parked on the north side of Chestnut, near the corner of Powell. The young white couple was walking along the south side of the street, toward the same corner.
“You stay with the van like before,” Head told Yellow. He turned to Judo. “You gonna help or not, man?” he asked coldly.
Head and Judo locked eyes. Head’s question was a direct challenge and Judo knew it.
“I’m right behind you, man,” said Judo. At that moment he hated Head.
Head and Judo got out of the van and strolled across the street. They stepped on to the sidewalk a hundred feet in front of the white couple. They separated: Head stood at the curb, Judo leaned against a fence across the sidewalk. The white couple would have to walk between them.
Quita Hague frequently had trouble with people mispronouncing her name. Most people pronounced it as it was spelled, coming up with something like “Quee-ta.” The correct pronunciation was “Kee-ta.” She had developed a clever way to point out the correct pronunciation: She would say, “Just think of me as Quita Banana.” It worked like a charm.
Quita was a vivacious, outgoing young woman with a keen, often infectious sense of humor. She was quick to laugh at her own misfortunes, such as running out of gas on the Bayshore Freeway at midnight. Her pixie grin and freckles often caused people to mistake her for Irish. But her maiden name was Pirelli-Minetti, and one of the things she was most proud of in life was that her grandfather, a vineyard specialist, had been one of the earliest graduates of Stanford University, in the class of 1906.
As she walked with her husband this evening, Quita was looking forward to Christmas. She liked Christmas better than any other holiday. It was still two months away, but she habitually started thinking about it early. Whenever the season approached, she was always reminded of the first Christmas she and Richard had spent together. They had been married four months and were living in South West Africa where Richard was employed as a geologist. There was no such thing as an evergreen Christmas tree to be found, so Quita decided that they should decorate a camelthorn bush, which had an abundance of small green leaves as well as countless tiny thorns. It, along with an uncommonly tough turkey and sweltering temperatures, did little to bring them any of the traditional holiday spirit. They ended up celebrating Christmas at a local swimming pool to escape the heat.
It had not been much of a first Christmas, but for a sentimental Quita it was a memory she cherished.
She held Richard’s hand a little tighter as they walked down Chestnut – toward two black men lounging on opposite sides of the sidewalk.
As the Hagues started to walk between them, Head reached out and grabbed Richard by the arm. “Hold it, man. Don’t move. You coming with us.”
Judo stepped away from the fence and leveled a gun at them. He was standing downhill, looking up at them. Richard froze. But not Quita.
“No, no, no,” she said, frightened, her voice breaking. She bolted past Judo and ran several yards downhill.
Now Head drew a gun. He pointed it at Richard’s chest. “Get on back up here, woman,” he said to Quita, “or I’ll kill him.” The eyes of Quita Hague and her husband met for a split instant in the dull gray of the streetlight.
“They already have us,” said Richard. “Let’s cooperate. They won’t hurt us.”
Reluctantly, hesitantly, Quita walked back up to where her husband was being held. Judo took her arm.
“Over to that van,” Head said. Still holding Richard’s arm, he guided him across the narrow street. Judo followed a step behind with Quita.
Yellow saw them coming. He hopped out and ran around to open the cargo doors on the passenger side.
“Get in there,” Head ordered, shoving Richard toward the van. Hague climbed into the van. “Move over there and lay down,” said Head. “On your stomach.” Hague crawled over and stretched out facedown next to the furniture pads stacked in the bed of the van.
“Now you,” Head nodded to Quita.
“No!” she said, terrified again. She started to run a second time. Yellow, younger and faster than either Head or Judo, reached out and grabbed her by the hair. He jerked her back and slammed her against the side of the van. She groaned and started to go limp.
“Get in there!” Yellow snapped, grabbing her under the arm, up close to the shoulder, and manhandling her into the van.
He made her stretch out behind the passenger seat, facedown like her husband was lying. “You lay there, bitch!” he said in his ugly, boyish voice. The urine had dried on his trousers now and he felt better. More like a man.
Then suddenly he heard something that made even his bowels queasy.
“Shit, man!” Judo hissed. “A fucking cop car is coming.” Police officers Bruce Marovich and Ben McAllister were proceeding slowly down Chestnut toward Powell. McAllister was driving the black-and-white radio car; Marovich was in the passenger seat, routinely checking the street. As they passed the middle of the block, Marovich observed some activity on the sidewalk next to where a light-colored Dodge van was parked. He frowned, studying the situation, as the radio car slowly passed the van. Marovich had been a policeman for more than five years. He could see nothing really suspicious occurring at the van, and yet –
“Hold it a minute,” he said to McAllister. “Back up next to that white van.”
McAllister backed up. As they halted parallel to the van, Head walked around to them.
“What’s going on?” Marovich asked out the passenger window.
“Everything’s okay, officer,” Head said with a smile. “We had a flat and we’re fixing it.”
Behind Head, Marovich could see another black man. He was vaguely aware of still a third person around by the open cargo door. But nothing seemed out of order. The two blacks he could see up close were neatly dressed, well-groomed men; certainly not hubcap thieves.
Marovich thought about it for a moment. Then he said, “Okay.”
He nodded to his partner and they drove on, continuing their patrol.
Minutes later, the van was on the freeway again, heading south toward the railroad yards below the Central Basin. Yellow was driving. Head was in the rear, astraddle Richard Hague, tying his hands behind him with heavy twine. Judo was next to him, astraddle Quita. Her hands were already tied. Judo had her rolled onto her side; one hand was up under her sweat shirt, feeling her breasts.
Yellow glanced in the rearview mirror and saw Head looking through Richard Hague’s wallet. “We not allowed to steal, man,” he said.
“You just drive,” Head snapped. “I ain’t doing nothing but just looking.” He closed the wallet and shoved it back into Richard’s pocket. Then he rolled Hague over and started going through his front pockets.
Hague raised his head and saw that Judo was doing something to Quita. “What are you doing to her?” he asked.
Judo, angered at being watched by the white woman’s husband, reached over and hit him in the mouth. “Shut up, motherfucker!” He glanced at Head. “Man, make him keep his fucking face down.”
“Keep your face down, motherfucker,” Head ordered.
Hague raised his head again, blood running over his bottom lip from Judo’s backhand. “What is he doing to her?” Head reached behind him and picked up a straight lug wrench. “I done told you to keep your white motherfucking face down!” He swung the lug wrench and smashed Richard Hague’s jaw. Hague’s head flopped back as if his neck were broken; blood gushed from his nostrils. Head hit him again, breaking his jaw in two more places. “I told the motherfucker once,” he mumbled. “I don’t tell no motherfucker twice.” He hit him with the lug wrench a third time.
“Rick– ” Quita said. It was little more than a plaintive whisper.
“Shut up, bitch,” said Judo. He had Quita on her back now, sweat shirt and cardigan pushed up around her neck, fondling her exposed breasts with both hands.
Head got off the unconscious Richard and moved over to them. He put his hand between Quita’s legs and started rubbing her through her jeans. Quita’s hands were tied behind her back and she was lying on them. She had made fists and was arching her body up to relieve the pain in her wrists. Head thought she was pushing her lower body up because he was rubbing her. “You like that, baby?” he asked with a lewd grin. He looked around Judo at her face. “You suck dick, baby?” “Hey, man,” said Yellow at the wheel, “we supposed to kill the white devils, not fuck with them.”
Head ignored him. He was trying to unbuckle a wide leather belt that Quita wore on her jeans, but he could not manage it because Judo was sitting too far back on her. He tried to get his hand to the zipper to unzip the fly, but he could not reach that either. “Shit, man,” he said in frustration. He unzipped his own trousers and released his erection.
Yellow looked over his shoulder. “We don’t supposed to be fucking with these white devils,” he warned again. “We only supposed to kill them.” Head had one hand curled around his hard penis. “Ain’t no rule says I can’t fuck a white devil before we kill her,” he argued. “Ain’t that right, man?” he asked Judo, slapping him on the shoulder.
“Don’t ask me, man,” Judo replied. “I don’t know no rules.” Judo maneuvered around until he was not on top of Quita anymore but was kneeling beside her, near her neck. He bent and sucked one of her nipples.
At the wheel, Yellow was becoming increasingly agitated. This was not the way it was supposed to be. Not sucking on the white devil’s tits or trying to get inside her clothes. He glanced at the next off-ramp sign: PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE. There were lonely, isolated railroad spurs just east of Pennsylvania Avenue. Yellow stepped down on the accelerator and changed to the off-ramp lane.
Quita Hague’s face was turned to the wall of the van. Tears streamed down her cheeks, trailing into her mouth and onto her neck. Her hands felt numb. She could feel Judo’s lips sucking her nipple raw; she could see Head walking toward her face on his knees, trousers open, black penis erect. And from the front of the van was the constant, whining voice talking about killing white devils.
“Please – please–” she begged. “Rape me – take my money but please don’t kill me – please.” “We won’t, baby,” said Head, “leastwise, not until we through with you.” Yellow got off the freeway, doubled back up Pennsylvania to Twenty-third Street, and drove under the freeway toward the industrial area. As he had surmised, the neighborhood was quiet, devoid of activity. Past Indiana Avenue he drove, to Minnesota. He swung into Minnesota, feeling gravel replace pavement under the tires. In seconds he was past Twenty-fourth Street. He drove alongside a single-track railroad spur until it turned down a narrow alley of warehouses and loading docks. There he jammed on the brakes and skidded to a halt.
“That white devil belongs to me!” he yelled.
Yellow leaped from behind the wheel and ran to the cargo door. He threw it open with a vengeance and reached under the back of the passenger seat. When he drew his hand out again, it held a sixteen-inch machete. He made several chops at the air with it, as if testing it.
“Say, man, be careful with that motherfucker,” Head said, covering his erection protectively.
“This white devil is mine!” Yellow declared again. His voice was a loud hiss; the boyish features of his face were distorted: lips twisted, eyes narrowed to slits, Adam’s apple throbbing. “I want her! She’s mine!”
“Yeah, right, man, take her,” Judo agreed quickly. “Just watch out with that fucking sword.”
Yellow took Quita Hague by her thick, dark hair and dragged her from the van. She came out on her side and fell heavily to the ground. Yellow dragged her up to her knees, dragged her on her knees for several yards, then angrily, impatiently, pulled her to her feet.
“Oh, please – oh, no–” she pleaded, choking and crying.
Yellow jerked viciously at her hair to make her keep up.
She stumbled, staggered, almost fell. Her wrists were raw from the twine, her knees throbbing from falling on them and being dragged on them, her scalp a mass of pain as her hair was literally being pulled out by the roots. But she probably felt none of that agony because her entire being had to be laced with the terrible fear of impending death. She could see the machete in Yellow’s hand. She must have known what he was going to do with it.
“Oh, please – oh, no–”
When Yellow got her where he wanted her, next to the railroad spur, he let go of her hair and used a hip throw to drop her to the ground. Judo, watching from next to the van, realized that it was a throw he himself had taught Yellow when he, Judo, first came out of prison. It was one of the basic jujitsu throws. Easy to execute. Particularly easy when applied to a terrified woman, forty pounds lighter, with hands tied behind her back.
“Oh, please – oh, no–”
Yellow grabbed her by the hair again and dragged her across one of the rails. When he let go, a handful of her hair came out, entwined in his fingers. Yellow stared at it in revulsion; he frantically shook his hand until the hair came loose and drifted to the ground.
“Now your head is mine, white devil,” Yellow said.
“Oh, please – oh, no – please – “
It was the last time Quita would beg for her life.
Yellow raised the machete high in the air and brought it down with all his strength on the throat of Quita Hague.
Head and Judo were standing by the parked van when Yellow came running back over to them.
“I did it! I did it!” Yellow shouted triumphantly. He threw his hands into the air, still holding the bloody machete, and did a brief victory dance. It was, Judo thought, not unlike the quick little dances that football players do in the end zone following a touchdown. Judo stared at Yellow’s wild-eyed, frenzied grin. “You ought to see the blood gushing out of that devil’s neck!” Yellow said. “It’s wonderful, wonderful! I got to get a picture of it!” He shoved the machete into Head’s hand and ran around the van. From under the driver’s seat, he removed a Polaroid camera with flash attached. He hurried back to the railroad spur with it.
Head stared at the bloodstained blade he held. “Blue-eyed devils,” he muttered. “I wanted that bitch to suck my dick.” He peered in at Richard Hague in the van. “I bet she sucked his dick,” he said indignantly. “Blue-eyed motherfucker!” With sudden ferocity, Head reached in with the machete and hacked at the unconscious Richard Hague’s face. He hacked twice. Three times. Then, drooling slightly over his puffy lips, he dragged the limp form out of the van and across the ground. Judo, wide-eyed, watched Head walk away, pulling Richard Hague by one arm behind him. Crazy, Judo thought, the motherfucker is crazy.
When Head approached the railroad spur, he saw a flashbulb explode. Then another. Yellow taking pictures of his kill, he thought sullenly. He gots a woman and I only gots a man. Shit. Head dragged Richard Hague to the opposite side of the tracks from where Quita lay. A man’s better than nothing, he thought. Leastwise, better than what Judo was getting tonight. As indifferently as if he were chopping wood, Head began hacking away at Richard Hague’s face.
Across the tracks, Yellow finished taking pictures. He too thought briefly about Judo, waiting back at the van; Judo, who would get credit for no kill tonight. Then Yellow remembered a ring he had seen on Quita Hague’s finger: a white gold ring with a green stone. He knew that Death Angels were not supposed to steal from their victims, but he decided to take the ring away – for Judo. His friend was getting married in a few days; maybe he could use the ring. Bending, Yellow rolled Quita sideways enough to expose her limp, twisted wrists, and worked the ring off her finger.
As Yellow stepped back across the tracks, he saw Head still hacking away. “Hey, brother, you want a picture of that devil?” he asked.
“Don’t need no picture, man,” Head muttered. “If I say I killed the motherfucker, then I killed him. Don’t need no picture.”
“Okay, brother.” Yellow hurried back to the van.
When he was alone again, Head took Richard Hague’s wallet and slipped it into his own pocket. No one would ever know, be told himself.
Several minutes later, Head returned to the van, tossed the bloody machete into the back, and got in.
Without headlights, the van drove slowly away from the railroad spur and the carnage that had been spread over it.
Shortly after eleven o’clock that night, John Battenberg and his wife Beverly were in their car driving west on Twenty-fifth Street. Battenberg was a forty-one-year-old professor of art at San Jose State University. As the Hagues had done earlier, the Battenbergs decided to get some air before going to bed. Unlike the Hagues, they drove instead of walking.
As their car passed the intersection of Minnesota Avenue, the Battenbergs saw a figure lurch from the shadows and stagger toward the street.
“Looks like he’s drunk,” said Beverly Battenberg.
“Looks like,” her husband agreed. Then John Battenberg took a closer look. “Wait a minute. That man’s hands are tied behind his back.”
Battenberg pulled over and got out of the car. He hurried toward the lurching figure.
It was Richard Hague.
In shock, badly hacked about the face and head, Hague had done the incredible: he had clung to life, struggled to his feet with hands still tied, and set out on foot looking for help for his wife.
Battenberg was appalled at what he saw. Richard Hague’s head was horribly mutilated. The flesh had been hacked open down to the bone. His skull was open and exposed. Ghastly strips of skin hung from his face, dripping steady rivulets of blood. He was muttering incoherently.
Battenberg untied Hague’s hands, dropping the rough twine to the ground. He guided Hague to his car. Not sure where the nearest hospital was located, he drove to the nearby Potrero District police station. The van, meanwhile, had sped south on the freeway. It parked behind an apartment in the Hunters Point section. Judo went to the door of the apartment and knocked. The door was answered by a plump, round-faced young black woman dressed in Muslim robes.
“As-salaam-alaikum,” Judo said, speaking the Muslim greeting. “As-salaam-alaikum,” she replied.
“I need a favor,” Judo said. “My friends and I need a place to wash up.”
The woman noticed dark spots on his Nehru coat and the pink shirt he wore under it. “What have you been doing?’ she asked.
Judo smiled. “We been out killing white folks,” he said. His voice was half serious, half joking. He took the young woman’s hand. “Listen, I don’t want you mixed up in this. You go on in the bedroom and stay until they’re gone. Don’t ask no questions, hear?”
She studied his eyes for a long moment, then she nodded and went into her bedroom.
Head and Yellow washed up in the bathroom, scrubbing Hague’s blood off their hands and arms. Then the three men filled a small garbage can with water and took it out to the van. They removed the furniture pads and sluiced down the cargo floor, cleaning out Richard Hague’s blood. Yellow used the excess water to wash off the machete, and put it back under the passenger seat.
When Yellow and Judo were away from Head momentarily, Yellow gave Judo the ring he had taken from Quita Hague. “Just so’s the night won’t be a complete mess for you,” he said. “Maybe you can use it at your wedding.”
“Thanks, man,” Judo said. “I appreciate it.”
In the light of the kitchen, Judo examined the ring. Inside the band it was engraved: REH to QPM 9-17-66 ALL MY LOVE. Judo rubbed several tiny specks of red off the white gold and slipped the ring into his pocket.
At the police station, John Battenberg ran up to the first occupied patrol car he saw and banged on the window. “I’ve got a man over here who may be dying!”
Officers Donald Hensic and John Chestnut hurried to the Battenberg car. They took one look at Richard Hague and immediately radioed a request for a Code Three ambulance emergency lights and siren. Within ten minutes, Hague was on his way to San Francisco General Hospital.
The two policemen, along with another team and a sergeant, returned with the Battenbergs to the intersection of Twenty-fifth and Minnesota. They began to search the area. The first thing they found was the length of twine that John Battenberg had taken off Richard Hague’s hands. Next they found a small pool of still-wet blood where Richard had lain. Then they found several patches of brown hair lying between the rails. Finally they found Quita.
Back at the Hunters Point apartment, Head and Yellow had left and Judo and the Muslim girl were alone.
“You shouldn’t be over here without a chaperone,” she told him. “We’re not married yet.”
“We will be in three days,” Judo said. “Anyway, I got a present for you and I wanted us to be alone when I gave it to you.”
He put Quita Hague’s white-gold-and-emerald ring on her finger.
“Oh, honey, it’s so pretty!” she praised, holding the back of her hand up to see how it looked on her. “My, it must have cost something!”
“It wasn’t cheap,” Judo said.
At the railroad spur, Quita Hague was being photographed in death for the second time. Standing around her body were men from the Crime Lab, Photo Lab, Operations Center, and Homicide details, and a representative from the coroner’s office. Quita was still lying across one rail of the tracks. Her hair, face, and upper torso were matted with her own drying blood. Her head lay back at a grotesque angle, its neck open, almost severed from the body. Her windpipe and most of her major neck arteries had been cut open, and her backbone and spinal cord had been lacerated.
Her hands were still tied behind her back.
Quita Hague was pronounced dead at 11.45 p.m.
At the end of Day One, there were two victims.
Quita Hague was dead, hacked to death.
Richard Hague was still alive, in shock, his face and head horribly mutilated (pp. 36-47).
The white man they had kidnapped off the street twelve hours earlier was absolutely terrified. They had him stripped naked and bound hand and foot to a straight-back wooden chair. The chair, in turn, was securely tied to a loft pillar so that he could not move it around or tip it over. A dirty cloth had been stuffed into his mouth and strips of adhesive tape stretched over it. He could breathe, but that was all.
The man was young: about twenty-five. Average: five ten, 140 pounds. He had been selected the previous night while watching a group of street entertainers in Ghirardelli Square, the modern shopping and dining complex at the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf. Four blacks followed him out of the complex and caught up with him on a lonely block of North Point Street. They literally surrounded him, one of them pushing the barrel of a gun against his ribs.
“Be cool, motherfucker,” he was told with a smile. “Cause us any trouble and you die here and now.”
Since they had tied him to the chair, he had wished a hundred times that he had caused them trouble, that he had made a scene, that he had tried to get away. A quick death on the street seemed more desirable with every hour that passed. God only knew what they planned to do to him.
His clothes had been taken away and were lying in a pile in the corner. His wallet, money, and other personal belongings were on a chair next to the pile. His kidnappers had seemed particularly pleased when they examined his identification. “This sucker ain’t even from around here, man,” one of them said. “He probably won’t even be reported missing here.”
For the most part he had been left alone in the loft. From time to time one or two blacks who had not been among the abductors would come up to have a look at him. Occasionally they made comments.
“Don’t see why the mothers couldn’t have grabbed a woman,” one of them said. “We could have had a dick-sucking party then.”
“You still can, baby,” replied his friend. “He look about like your type.” The friend laughed all the way down the stairs.
Another one who came up, alone, glared at him for several long minutes. “You white motherfucking devil,” he muttered. “You evil white grafted-snake motherfucking devil.”
Still another smiled coldly at him and said, “I got something for you, honky.” He took out his penis and urinated all over the bound man’s stomach and crotch.
As the day wore on. the captive’s body began to ache from the ordeal of being tied in one position; his stomach growled in anger from hunger; he grew stiff, sore, cold. But all of his physical discomfort was insignificant compared to the terrible mental terror he felt. The men who had him were obviously mad, insane. And the things they might do to him – unspeakable.
Although he did not know exactly what those things were, he was certain that his worst fears would be realized. He would gladly have taken his own life [rather] than face the coming night hours (pp. 170-172).
In the loft, the white man tied to the chair was trying to shrivel up inside himself. His eyes were wide with terror and his pale, naked body trembled both from fear and exposure. For an hour now the blacks had been coming upstairs in twos and threes, and just standing in front of him, looking at him, studying him. And smiling, forever smiling: wide, bright smiles: pearly-white teeth in dark faces with eyes that seldom blinked.
He knew the time was near because there was an electricity among them, an underlying tension and excitement, a nervousness, like the aura in a contender’s dressing room minutes before a title shot. What the bound man did not know was the reason for the feeling. Something was going to happen; he just did not know what.
They’re going to sexually attack me, he thought. Like he had heard they did to new men in prison. That must be why his clothes had been taken away and he had been left naked. They planned to hold him down and use him sexually, force him to serve them sexually.
And then, pray God, when they were finished with him, they would throw him in an alley somewhere and it would be all over. God, it would be all over –
But even as he thought it, he knew he was deluding himself. He knew that it was not going to be like that. A terrible, putrid sickness deep in the pit of him told him that he was living his last minutes of life. This loft – this shabby, seedy loft with its heavy, musty smell – was the last thing he would ever see.
They were going to kill him.
When nighttime came and the loft grew dark, he heard them filing up the stairs, laughing and joking and making fun out of everything, like rowdy kids on a playground. Then the lights went on and the doorway to the stairwell was carefully closed and bolted. They came over to him and stood around him in a semicircle, the first time all of them were there at once. There were no smiles, no grins, now that the time had come. This was going to be serious business, done purposefully and determinedly. There was, their faces said, a reason for what they were about to do.
One of the men went to a closet and came back with a topless cardboard box containing a collection of knives, meat cleavers, metal cutters, and machetes. “Everybody take one,” he said.
The men filed up to the box; each one selected a single instrument.
“Now line up.”
The men formed a single column.
“We’ll take turns. I go first.”
The man stepped next to the bound, gagged prisoner. He paused a beat, then suddenly, viciously, cut off the man’s left ear.
The next one in line opened a pair of metal cutters and snipped off a thumb.
The next used a meat cleaver to chop off three toes.
The victim’s screams were choked back by the gag in his mouth. Only muffled, horrible, animal grunts could be heard in the room. Mercifully, the bound man soon lost consciousness. The carnage continued nevertheless.
Methodically, the men in the line butchered their prisoner like a hog in a slaughterhouse (pp. 178-179).
On Christmas Eve morning, two miles south of where Judo let the bundle fall into the sea, two young women, Dorene Racouillat and Sara Scott, were walking Dorene’s dog on the beach at the foot of Pacheco Street. They found the bundle washed up on the beach. The yellow twine, fashioned into a net, had held during the bundle’s roll down the embankment, subsequent plunge into the sea, and tumultuous journey down two miles of rocky, sandy coastline; but the tarpaulin had folded away in places and there were tears and rips in the plastic. One such rip was triangular, about four inches in length along each side. Through the hole, the two young women could see the unmistakable sight of hairy human flesh with a streak of matted blood across it.
The police were called. Officers John Hanifin and Max Schenk responded. As soon as they saw what the bundle contained, they summoned the various persons who were required at the scene: Lieutenant Mikulik and Sergeant O’Connor, to take charge of the physical area; Hicks of the Photo Lab to take the gory pictures; Jackson of the Crime Lab to look for physical evidence; Armstrong and McKenna of Homicide; and Dr Jindrich of the coroner’s office to pronounce the victim dead. The latter was only a formality.
The bundle was eventually moved downtown to the coroner’s office. More gory photographs were taken. Then the morgue attendants began the worst job of all: the unwrapping of the bundle. What they found was ghastly.
The body was without head, hands, or feet. The head had been severed at the base of the neck, the hands just above the wristbone, the feet just above the ankles. Both arms were held in place at the sides of the torso by wire. The knees had been drawn up to the chest and also bound in place by wire. The lower abdomen had been cut open from hipbone to hipbone; intestines and other internal organs had spilled forth from the gaping wound. It was a sight that even the most hardened morgue attendant would remember for a long time to come.
There was no way to identify the body: no marks, scars, tattoos, or anything else that might offer a clue. And of course no latent prints, dental work, or anything of that nature – not unless the other parts of the body were found. Or unless a missing persons report turned up, or someone came forward who would recognize what there was of the remains.
In the interim, the body was listed as John Doe No. 169 (pp. 184-185).
At the end of Day One Hundred Seventy-nine, there were twenty-three victims.
Quita Hague, hacked to death.
Richard Hague, his face butchered.
Ellen Linder, raped, ravaged, threatened with 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.
Arthur Agnos, surviving after his insides were ripped up by bullets.
Marietta DiGirolamo, thrown into a doorway and shot to death.
Ilario Bertuccio, killed while walking home from work.
Angela Roselli, surviving with nerve damage in her back.
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 No. 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.
Roxanne McMillian, surviving but paralyzed from the waist down.
Thomas Rainwater, shot down on the street as he walked to a market.
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 city bus stop.
And Nelson Shields IV, shot three times in the back as he was straightening out the cargo deck of his station wagon. The one hundred seventy-nine days of terror had ended. The Zebra killers had assaulted twenty-three persons on the streets of San Francisco.
Only eight had survived.
Fifteen had been killed (pp. 340-341).
Clark Howard, The Zebra Killings, New English Library (London) 1980. Originally published in the US under the title Zebra: The True Account of the 179 Days of Terror in San Francisco.