The Zebra Killings
By James Lubinskas
| August 30, 2001
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
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.
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."
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
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.
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.
This same type of
black-on-white serial murder occurred in the Miami area in the
early 1990’s. The racist cult of Yahweh-ben-Yahweh began systematically
killing whites in the same manor as the Death Angels. Whites were
again described as subhuman "devils" by the cult leaders
who urged their black followers to murder random whites. In what
was strictly local news, seven whites were ritually slaughtered
before the cult was stopped. The leaders of Yahweh-ben-Yahweh
are also up for parole in 2002.
It has been almost
30 years since the Zebra Killings and, with the exception of Clark
Howard’s book, little has been written about the murders. That
is why they have disappeared from the public consciousness. At
least one filmmaker who tried to get funding for a documentary
on the killings has said that producers will not touch it, as
it involves the taboo of black-on-white racism. Needless to say,
there is no such taboo on discussing white-on-black racism. But
a society that memorializes Emmett Till, Medgar Evers and James
Byrd should also make room for the victims of the Zebra Killings.
Justice demands it.
James P. Lubinskas has written for
Chronicles, The AIM Report, American Renaissance, The Social Contract,
VDARE, The Nationalist Times, American Patrol and other journals.
www.eaif.org for more information
on the Zebra Killings Memorial Service.
by Clark Howard, is currently out of print. Used copies can still
be purchased on Amazon.com. Click
here for details.
chapter of Zebra can be read online by clicking
here. (Link in PDF format).