The Trash Bag Killer, Part 1

On August 24, 1974 five-year-old Ronald Dean Smith failed to appear for dinner. Ronnie had been playing with a friend at a local park. The friend was accounted for, but nobody knew where Ronnie was. It wasn’t like him to miss dinner and it was odd that nobody knew where he was.  His grandmother, Mrs. Shirley O’Conner, was babysitting her grandson while his mother was out of town. When she couldn’t find him she called the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lennox Substation.

Sheriff’s deputies talked to Ronnie’s friend. He told them that he and Ronnie had gotten into a “…sand fight” and he’d gone home to clean up leaving his friend, in tears, in the sandbox.

Teams of Sheriff’s detectives searched the eight-square-mile park and went door-to-door interviewing people but, according to Lt. Ray Gott, “No clues–nothing. The boy has just disappeared.”

joann_picSeven days after his disappearance his mother, 22-year-old Joann O’Connor (she and Ronnie’s father were divorced) talked to the press in the squad room of the Sheriff’s station.

She made a gut-wrenching plea to the unknown person(s) who had her son.

“The reason we wanted you all to come here is to tell whoever had Ronnie how much we want him back. We definitely do feel in our hearts that he’s alive and OK and that he’s safe. I just want to tell whoever he’s with now that he’s very important to me, that he’s…”

Joann stopped for a moment, took a breath and composed herself as best she could, then she continued:

“…he’s all I’ve got. And that I love him so very much. I know that whoever took Ronnie took him because they wanted a little boy to love, and I know you took him because he’s so beautiful and that you won’t hurt him…”

On Sunday, October 13, 1974 a group of kids were collecting old beer cans along Ortega Highway near El Cariso Village in Riverside County, when they discovered a body. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department was notified.  They immediately checked the missing persons reports and found a description of Ronnie. The body they had was too badly decomposed to be identified by its features, but the clothing matched that of the missing boy. An autopsy confirmed everyone’s worst fears.

As hard as they tried, Sheriff’s investigators failed to turn up any suspects.

In late April, 1977, nearly three years following Ronnie’s death, the remains of 17-year-old El Segundo High School senior, John Otis LaMay, were discovered wrapped in plastic bags in an 80-gallon can in Temescal Canyon. He’d been missing for about a month.

El Segundo Police Detective Roger Kahl noted that there were similarities between LaMay’s death and the deaths of numerous other victims, all young men, whose nude bodies had been found near highways in four Southern California counties since April 1975. However, he said that LaMay was the only one who had been dismembered.

Despite the anomaly, Sheriff’s offices in Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties, along with the LAPD, were sharing information in the belief that the murders were connected.

NEXT TIME: The body count climbs. Two suspects are identified.

30 More Years of Crime in L.A.

When I  began this blog in December 2012, I arbitrarily chose to examine crime in Los Angeles during the years from 1900 to 1970.  Now, however, I think it is time to expand the purview to include the decades of 1970, 1980 and 1990 to encompass all of the last century. In terms of crime in the City of Angels, the last three decades of the 20th Century are enormously interesting.

The 1970s have been called one of the most violent decades in U.S. history. Homicide rates climbed at an alarming rate and people felt increasingly vulnerable.

dirtyharry

Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry

Hollywood contributed to popular culture, and helped fuel the debate on crime and punishment, with a slew of vigilante films like Dirty Harry and Death Wish. The films  showed bad guys being blown away by impressively large weapons.  It was cathartic, but not terribly realistic.

It was during the ’70s that the bogeyman got a new name when FBI Investigator Robert Ressler coined the term “serial killer”.

In 1978 convicted rapist and registered sex offender, Rodney Alcala, appeared on the Dating Game. Why wasn’t he more thoroughly vetted by the show’s producers? I have no idea. Even more astounding than his appearance was the fact that he won! The bachelorette who selected Rodney ultimately declined to go out with him–she found him “creepy”. He’s currently on California’s death row and is believed to have committed as many as 50 murders.

ramirez_108a

Richard Ramirez aka the Night Stalker, flashes a pentagram on his palm.

Some people joined cults where they banded together with like-minded folks for spiritual comfort and to retreat from the scary world-at-large. But there is not always safety in numbers, and evil can assume many guises. In 1978, over 900 members of the People’s Temple died in a mass suicide commanded by their leader, Jim Jones. The group was living in Guyana when they drank cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. The People’s Temple may have been founded in Indiana, but like so many other cults before them they established a presence in L.A.

Jim Jones of the People's Temple

Jim Jones of the People’s Temple

A crack cocaine epidemic swept the country in the early 1980s.  It decimated communities and cost many people their lives. Crack  was inexpensive, easily accessible, and even more addictive than regular cocaine.

The 1980s gave rise to a “satanic panic” which resulted in some of most bizarre prosecutions we’ve seen in this country since the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690s. The McMartin Preschool abuse trial was the most costly ($15 million) ever in the U.S. and resulted, rightfully I believe, in no convictions.

Surprisingly, there was a decline in crime during the 1990s, and it has been attributed to a variety of factors including: increased incarceration; increased numbers of police, growth in income; decreased unemployment, decreased alcohol consumption, and even the unleading of gasoline (due to the Clean Air Act). Despite the decline, there was still enough murder and mayhem to make us uneasy.

oj-simpson-murdeHere in L.A. there was the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, the so-called Trial of the Century. If you remove fame, wealth, and race and reduce the crime to its basic elements you end up with nothing more than a tragic domestic homicide–the type of crime which is altogether too common everywhere–yet the case continues to fascinate.

Heidi Fleiss, the Hollywood Madam, made news in 1993. At her pandering trial actor Charlie Sheen divulged that he had spent in excess of $53,000 for services rendered by Heidi’s girls.

Please join me as I explore the entirety of 20th Century crime in Los Angeles.

Joan

 

 

 

The Devil in Orange County–2016 Update

One of the things I never expected to happen when I began this blog in December 2012 was that I would hear from so many victims, perpetrators, and their families. I have corresponded with people whose family tree was forever altered by a crime from as long ago as the 1920s.

I’ve found that most of the family members who contact me are seeking an open ear–someone who will listen and not judge. Often I am asked to provide information about a decades old incident and I gladly share my research notes.

The internet has made it nearly impossible for families to keep secrets–someone doing a quick search of a popular genealogy site may discover a long forgotten crime involving a relative and seek answers.

steve hurd

Stephen Hurd

In “The Devil in Orange County” I wrote about my peripheral involvement in one of the most infamous crimes in the county’s history. I suggest that you read the posts for an in-depth examination of the crimes, but briefly the circumstances are as follows:

On June 2, 1970, Stephen Hurd, 20, and Arthur “Moose” Hulse, 16, and several of their companions, were involved in two back-to-back violent homicides. The first was the brutal hatchet slaying, by Hulse, of 20-year-old Jerry Wayne Carlin, a gas station attendant working the grave yard shift. Carlin left behind a young widow. He never had the chance to learn that his wife was pregnant.

florence brownThe next day 29-year-old Florence Nancy Brown, stepmother to four children, was car jacked at a freeway off-ramp by Hurd, Hulse and a few of their co-horts. She was taken to a field and stabbed over 20 times. Her body was buried in a shallow grave near Ortega Highway. Hurd later revealed that he had returned to the make-shift burial site and mutilated Brown’s corpse by removing her heart which he then used in a Satanic ritual. Stephen Hurd died of a brain hemorrhage in prison in 2005.

Arthur Hulse is currently incarcerated at Vacaville, but apparently not for much longer unless Governor Brown vetoes his release.

There are individuals who deserve parole–they earn it by taking responsibility for their previous actions and by taking steps to become a productive member of society. Nothing that I have read about Arthur’s years in prison has suggested that he has done anything to make himself suitable for parole.

craig hulse photoLast year we conducted a successful letter writing campaign to Governor  Brown to reverse the parole board’s decision that Arthur be released.  This month at a parole hearing Arthur was once again granted release. He is due to be cut loose in August unless Governor Brown overrides the board’s decision like he did last year.

During the last several months I have heard from members of Florence Brown’s family and they have expressed their desire to see Hulse remain in prison. I have heard from one of her former grade school students who has never forgotten the events of 1970.

Last year I received email from Jerry Wayne Carlin’s widow which, with her permission,  I am reprinting below. I have withheld her current surname at her request.

carlin beating deathI hope that her letter will move you, as it did me, to contact Governor Brown and ask him to veto Hulse’s parole.

My name is Patricia ______. My first husband, Jerry Wayne Carlin was murdered on June 2, 1970. As you can imagine, my life was changed forever on that horrible night.

I’m writing to let you know that Arthur Craig Hulse had a parole hearing on September 26, 2014 and was granted parole. I was notified by the District Attorney, Scott Simmons, of the impending hearing on September 22, 2014, when the DA’s office was notified. The parole hearing had been moved up one year without notice to the DA or myself. I was asked by the DA to write a letter to the parole board, which I did.

It has been 44 years since Jerry’s murder. There has not been even one June 2, that I haven’t stopped and remember what happened on that horrible night. I gave birth to Jerry’s son, Jason, in 1971. All my son has left of his father is a 5″x7″ picture. When I was told of what happened to Jerry that night, I wanted to die. I took a overdose of every pill in the medicine cabinet but, by the grace of God, the police realized what I had done and got me to the hospital. I was told that I was pregnant. I knew I needed to be strong for my baby and for Jerry Wayne. I got on with my life and Jerry’s son grew and is now a Grandpa.

Although life went on, always in the back of my mind, was the thought, that someday Steve Hurd and Arthur Hulse could be released. Hurd died in 2005.

Now Hulse has been given a parole date. The Governor of California has the authority to overturn the parole board’s decision. He will review the case within 30 days and if the decision is not overturned, my worst fears will be realized, and this animal will be released in 120 days from September 26, 2014. I will be writing to the Governor to request he overturn this ruling. I have contacted the Orange County Register, because they have been following this case for more than 40 years. Incidentally they also were unaware of Hulse’s parole hearing. I do not know if they will publish an article about this person’s parole.

I’m writing a letter to the Governor’s Office and hope that more people who learn about this will also. The address is:

Governor Edmund G Brown
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

This may be the last thing I can do for Jerry Wayne and his son. If you have any way of helping get the word out about this horrible decision, I would be so grateful.

Life in prison should be just that. Is 44 years enough for hacking a innocent person to death? I will live the rest of my life, knowing what happened. There will be no parole for me or my son. Arthur Hulse should remain in prison for the rest of his life.

Thank You for your time.

******************************************************************

I cannot even imagine the pain that Patricia and her son have endured over the years, and of course Jerry’s loss continues to be felt by Patricia’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

It’s easy for you to contact Governor Brown via EMAIL. I suggest that you select “Have Comment’ for the purpose of your communication, and for topic “Parole-Governors Review”.  Also select “Con” for your position on the pending parole.

I hope you’ll join me in writing to Governor Brown, it will take only a few moments of your time but may result in years of peace for Patricia and her family.

Below is my letter to Governor Brown. Feel free to cut and paste it into your email to him.

Governor Brown:

I am writing to urge you to veto the parole of Arthur Craig Hulse (#B33433) due to the heinous nature of his crimes. On June 2, 1970 he murdered 20-year-old gas station attendant Jerry Wayne Carlin with a hatchet and the next day he was an accessory to the car-jacking and brutal slaying of 29-year-old wife and mother Florence Nancy Brown. Mrs. Brown was stabbed at least 20 times and her body was mutilated postmortem.

Earlier this month Hulse was granted parole and is scheduled for release in August, unless you override the parole board’s decision like you did last year.

I thank you for your consideration of this request.

Respectfully,

Joan Renner

The Devil in Orange County – 2015 Update

Several months ago I promised to provide an update, when I had one, on the results of a letter writing campaign asking California Governor Jerry Brown to overturn the upcoming parole of Arthur Craig Hulse for the 1970 murder of gas station attendant Jerry Wayne Carlin. Craig was also sentenced for his participation in the slaying of Florence Brown, a young wife and mother who had been car-jacked on her way to a PTA meeting.

Below is the follow-up on the story.

murder suspects

In 2013 I wrote a series of posts entitled “The Devil in Orange County” about one of the most notorious cases in the county’s history. My brother and I knew one of the killers, Arthur Craig  Hulse.   Nicknamed “Moose” he had been a visitor to my family’s home on many occasions during the time that he and my brother were in junior high school together.

Just days before Craig was busted, a good friend and I picked him up hitch-hiking. We had heard about the murders, they were headline news. On June 2, 1970 a gas station attendant, Jerry Wayne Carlin, had been beaten to death with a hatchet during a robbery that netted his killers $73, and  the following day a school teacher, Florence Brown, had been stabbed multiple times. Her mutilated remains were discovered two weeks later in a shallow grave off of Ortega Highway. We had no idea that Craig was involved until we heard about his arrest.

I suggest that you read the posts for details about the crimes which resulted in Craig, 16 at the time, being tried as an adult and sentenced to life in prison. When I followed-up on his case nearly two years ago I discovered that he was still incarcerated and had been denied parole for the 13th time in October 2012. He was not supposed to be eligible again for 5 years.

Since I began this blog in December 2012, I’ve written about more than 300 historic crime cases, and I have been surprised at the number of emails that I’ve received from the family members of both victims and perpetrators. One of the most touching emails I have received was from Patricia Kramer, Jerry Wayne Carlin’s widow.  Patricia wrote to me in October 2014 to inform me that Craig’s parole date had not only been moved up a few years, but that he had been granted release.

craig hulse photoPatricia lives out of state and wasn’t notified of the parole hearing in time to make arrangements to attend, so Craig’s request for release went unopposed. We organized a letter writing campaign to ask Governor Brown to overturn the parole because at his previous hearing, about a year before, the board had stated that Hulse still constituted an unreasonable danger to the public. What could have changed in such a short time?

The big change had come with the adoption of Senate Bill 260 “Justice for Juveniles with Adult Prison Sentences” which went into effect on January 1, 2014. The bill requires that the parole board “…review the cases of people who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crime and look at them differently than it does people who were adults.”

As a result of SB 260, Craig was able to request an earlier hearing–and it was at that time that his parole was granted.

There are some very complicated issues surrounding appropriate sentencing and/or treatment of juveniles who commit serious crimes; and there are no easy answers.

California is one of a small handful of states which grants authority to the governor to overturn a parole board’s decision. While in office Governor Brown has disagreed with the board in about 20% of the cases, so there were no assurances that Craig’s parole would be overturned.

A couple of days ago I heard from  Patricia. She told me that she had received word that Governor Brown had denied Craig’s release and that he would be eligible again in early 2015.

Patricia said that she will continue to oppose Craig’s release for as long as she lives.

Here are links to the 4 part series: The Devil in Orange County

The Devil in Orange County

The Devil in Orange County, Part 2

The Devil in Orange County, Part 3

The Devil in Orange County, Part 4

The Devil in Orange County-Update and call to action

One of the things I never expected to happen when I began this blog in December 2012 was that I would hear from so many victims, and perpetrators, and their families. I have corresponded with people whose family tree was forever altered by a crime from as long ago as the 1920s.

I’ve found that most of the family members who contact me are seeking an open ear–someone who will listen and not judge. Often I am asked to provide information about a decades old incident and I gladly share my research notes.

The internet has made it nearly impossible for families to keep secrets–someone doing a quick search of a popular genealogy site may discover a long forgotten crime involving a relative and seek answers.

steve hurd

Stephen Hurd

In “The Devil in Orange County” I wrote about my peripheral involvement in one of the most infamous crimes in the county’s history. I suggest that you read the posts for an in-depth examination of the crimes, but briefly the circumstances are as follows:

On June 2, 1970, Stephen Hurd, 20, and Arthur “Moose” Hulse, 16, and several of their companions, were involved in two back-to-back violent homicides. The first was the brutal hatchet slaying, by Hulse, of 20-year-old Jerry Wayne Carlin, a gas station attendant working the grave yard shift. Carlin left behind a young widow. He never had the chance to learn that his wife was pregnant.

florence brown

The next day 29-year-old Florence Nancy Brown, stepmother to four children, was car jacked at a freeway off-ramp by Hurd, Hulse and a few of their co-horts. She was taken to a field and stabbed over 20 times. Her body was buried in a shallow grave near Ortega Highway. Hurd later revealed that he had returned to the make-shift burial site and mutilated Brown’s corpse by removing her heart which he then used in a Satanic ritual. Stephen Hurd died of a brain hemorrhage in prison nine years ago.

Arthur Hulse is currently incarcerated at Vacaville, but apparently not for much longer unless Governor Brown vetoes his release. At a hearing on September 26, 2014, Hulse was granted parole and is scheduled to be cut loose in approximately 120 days. He was not supposed to have been eligible for parole until 2015. What the hell happened?

craig hulse photo

There are individuals who deserve parole–they earn it by taking responsibility for their previous actions and by taking steps to become a productive member of society. Nothing that I have read about Arthur’s years in prison has suggested that he has done anything to make himself suitable for parole.

I mentioned that I’ve heard from victims and families of violent crime and this morning I received email from Jerry Wayne Carlin’s widow. She is rightfully horrified that Arthur Craig Hulse will be paroled unless Governor Brown takes action within the next few weeks.

carlin beating deathI hope that her letter will move you, as it has me, to contact Governor Brown and ask him to veto Hulse’s parole.

With her permission I am reprinting her email to me. I have withheld her current surname at her request.

 

My name is Patricia ______. My first husband, Jerry Wayne Carlin was murdered on June 2, 1970. As you can imagine, my life was changed forever on that horrible night.

I’m writing to let you know that Arthur Craig Hulse had a parole hearing on September 26, 2014 and was granted parole. I was notified by the District Attorney, Scott Simmons, of the impending hearing on September 22, 2014, when the DA’s office was notified. The parole hearing had been moved up one year without notice to the DA or myself. I was asked by the DA to write a letter to the parole board, which I did.

It has been 44 years since Jerry’s murder. There has not been even one June 2, that I haven’t stopped and remember what happened on that horrible night. I gave birth to Jerry’s son, Jason, in 1971. All my son has left of his father is a 5″x7″ picture. When I was told of what happened to Jerry that night, I wanted to die. I took a overdose of every pill in the medicine cabinet but, by the grace of God, the police realized what I had done and got me to the hospital. I was told that I was pregnant. I knew I needed to be strong for my baby and for Jerry Wayne. I got on with my life and Jerry’s son grew and is now a Grandpa.

Although life went on, always in the back of my mind, was the thought, that someday Steve Hurd and Arthur Hulse could be released. Hurd died in 2005.

Now Hulse has been given a parole date. The Governor of California has the authority to overturn the parole board’s decision. He will review the case within 30 days and if the decision is not overturned, my worst fears will be realized, and this animal will be released in 120 days from September 26, 2014. I will be writing to the Governor to request he overturn this ruling. I have contacted the Orange County Register, because they have been following this case for more than 40 years. Incidentally they also were unaware of Hulse’s parole hearing. I do not know if they will publish an article about this person’s parole.

I’m writing a letter to the Governor’s Office and hope that more people who learn about this will also. The address is:

Governor Edmund G Brown
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

This may be the last thing I can do for Jerry Wayne and his son. If you have any way of helping get the word out about this horrible decision, I would be so grateful.

Life in prison should be just that. Is 44 years enough for hacking a innocent person to death? I will live the rest of my life, knowing what happened. There will be no parole for me or my son. Arthur Hulse should remain in prison for the rest of his life.

Thank You for your time.

******************************************************************

I cannot even imagine the pain that Patricia and her son have endured over the years, and of course Jerry’s loss continues to be felt by Patricia’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

It’s easy for you to contact Governor Brown via EMAIL. I suggest that you select “Have Comment’ for the purpose of your communication, and for topic “Parole-Governors Review”.  Also select “Con” for your position on the pending parole.

I hope you’ll join me in writing to Governor Brown, it will take only a few moments of your time but may result in years of peace for Patricia and her family.

Below you will find the email I have sent to the Governor–feel free to cut and paste it.

Governor Brown:

I am writing to urge you to veto the parole of Arthur Craig Hulse (#B33433) due to the heinous nature of his crimes. On June 2, 1970 he murdered 20-year-old gas station attendant Jerry Wayne Carlin with a hatchet and the next day he was an accessory to the car-jacking and stabbing of 29-year-old wife and mother Florence Nancy Brown. Mrs. Brown was stabbed at least 20 times and her body was mutilated postmortem.

Hulse was denied parole in October 2012 because he was considered a danger if released and, additionally, he had never completed any drug or alcohol treatment program during his years of  incarceration. In fact he was informed at his 2012 hearing that he would not be considered for release again until 2015.

It is unclear why his parole hearing was moved up and it is a mystery how he became eligible for parole after such a short amount of time, particularly when he had done nothing to earn his release in the 44 years prior to his September 26, 2014 parole hearing.

It would be an injustice to the victim’s families if he is paroled. Hulse also poses a possible danger to any community into which he may be released.

I thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Joan E. Renner

Happy Birthday!

year end wrap up cake

Deranged L.A. Crimes is one year old!

When I began this blog just over a year ago I had no idea that it would be as well received as it has been. My goal was simple, I wanted to entertain people while pursuing my passion for Los Angeles history through its crimes. I hoped that along the way I’d find a few like minded people who love Los Angeles history and crime as much as I do. Over the past twelve months the blog has exceeded my wildest dreams and has given me an opportunity to play hostess to approximately 250,000 visitors! It is gratifying, and humbling, to have been able to reach so many people.

I’ve gotten to know many of you over the past year through your comments and I have found that your knowledge of everything from forgotten L.A. lore to film noir trivia is encyclopedic. I have heard from readers in law enforcement as well as from fellow historians and writers. I’ve been contacted by the families of both victims and perpetrators who played a part in some of the crimes I have covered. I’ve even had readers from a couple of L.A.’s oldest street gangs seeking to find their place in the city’s crime history.

It appears that 2014 may be an even more exciting year for Deranged L.A. Crimes than 2013 has been (if that’s possible). In addition to a book of crime scene photos that I’ve been working on with the Los Angeles Police Museum (narrative written by non other than the Demon Dog himself, James Ellroy) I am currently working on a Deranged L.A. Crimes book. I don’t have any lectures scheduled for 2014 yet, but I hope to. Bringing historic L.A. crimes to life in a lecture is something I love to do.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please feel free to contact me, I’d love to hear from you.

I wish all of you a very happy new year, and I thank you for your readership!

Best,

Joan

Thank you, Deranged Readers!

flappergun

Dear Deranged Readers:

When I began this blog in mid-December 2012 I had no expectations regarding how many people I might reach. Truthfully I was just compelled to do something I love, which to share twisted tales from L.A.’s deeply disturbed past.

The month of August was a personal best for the blog with over 26,000 visitors, most of whom had visited before! In the months since the blog began it has logged over 124,000 visitors — not just random hits. I know how busy everyone is, and I’m touched that so many of you find time for Deranged L.A. Crimes.

I take this endeavor seriously and I make every effort to keep the stories interesting and the facts straight.  I want you to know that I will always respond respectfully to your comments, even on those occasions when we may agree to disagree.

Again, my heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you for your support.

Now let the bad behavior continue.

Best,

Joan

The Devil in Orange County, Conclusion

THE PLEAS

In mid-July 1970 the Orange County Grand Jury handed down indictments against
Steve C. Hurd, 20, Arthur “Moose” Hulse, 16, Herman Taylor,18, Christopher “Gypsy”
Gibboney,17, and Melanie C. Daniels, 31, for their roles in the murders of Jerry Carlin and
Florence Brown.florence brown

At his arraignment, Steven Hurd entered a plea of innocent by reason of insanity. While being held without bail in Orange County Jail, Hurd complained about being kept in solitary confinement. He whined that he had no television and nothing to read.

Claiming satanism as his religion he asked for three books on the subject, but Superior Judge Samuel Dreizen nixed the request — but he did allow Hurd to have two sci-fi books.

Craig Hulse pleaded innocent and innocent by reason of insanity to the hatchet murder of Jerry W. Carlin. Craig’s attorney, Robert Green, petitioned for a separate trial for his
client. Green contended that Hulse couldn’t possibly get a fair hearing if he was tried for murder with his co-defendants because of “highly prejudicial” newspaper publicity. The judge agreed.

However, the motion to allow Craig to be processed as a juvenile was denied. He would
stand trial as an adult.

Christopher Gibboney unsuccessfully fought extradition from his home state of Oregon.
Gibboney petitioned to be processed as a juvenile but, like Hulse, he was ordered to
stand trial as an adult for the murder of Florence Brown.

Herman Taylor turned state’s evidence after the district attorney promised to reduce
his charges to two counts of accessory to murder. He was also promised a sentence
of one year in jail dating from his original arrest date, July 1, 1970. The deal was a no-
brainer for him and he took it.

THE SENTENCES

MELANIE DANIELSmelanie daniels

Melanie Daniels, the thirty-one year old waitress with a boyfriend in San Quentin, was already serving time in Orange County Jail on a drugs charge when, in September 1970, she was sentenced to two consecutive one-to-five year prison terms after she pleaded guilty to being an accessory in the murders. Dep. Dist. Atty. Martin J. Heneghan urged Judge Dreizen to impose the consecutive sentences saying:

“If there ever has been a case where consecutive sentences were warranted, this is it.”

STEVEN C. HURD

Steven Hurd was found insane and unable to assist in his own defense. He was incarcerated at Atascadero until such time as he was deemed fit to stand trial.

steve hurdIn December 1973 he was briefly found to be sane, but was re-confined in the state hospital by May 1974. One of the psychiatrists who examined Hurd declared him the most dangerous man he had ever seen.

Finally in 1975, the California Supreme Court ruled that Steven Hurd could stand trial while under the influence of powerful tranquilizers. Hospital doctors had pronounced him sane, but said he could function properly only if tranquilized.

hurd_005

Orange County jurors in the 1975 trial of devil-cult leader Steven Hurd listened to testimony at a Santa Ana gas station where attendant Jerry Wayne Carlin was murdered in 1970. [Photo courtesy of the O.C. Register]

A purported confession and other statements made by Hurd in 1970 were ruled admissible as evidence in his trial.

In mid-June 1975 Steven Hurd, self-professed devil worshiper, was found guilty of two
charges of first degree murder in the 1970 slayings. A jury of six men and six women deliberated for two days before arriving at the verdict. He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms.

At his subsequent sanity hearing, Hurd made frequent references to “my father, the
devil” as he proceeded to relate details of the murder of Florence Brown.

May 19, 1975. Steven Hurd , right, walks with an officer during the jury tour of the crime scene. [Photo courtesy of the O.C. Register]

May 19, 1975. Steven Hurd , right, walks with an officer during the jury tour of the crime scene. [Photo courtesy of the O.C. Register]

Hurd said that several days after Brown was stabbed to death in an orange grove he
disinterred her body from the shallow grave along Ortega Highway.

He told the court he removed the heart, burned part of it and ate the rest. He used
ashes and paper to make a “star of death” around the heart as part of a devil’s rite.
According to Hurd when he was finished the devil told him he was “proud of him”.

Hurd said “his father” told him he would die in 1977, but didn’t explain how or where. Of course the devil is a liar. Hurd would live beyond 1977 by 28 years.

Steven C. Hurd died of a brain hemorrhage on May 28, 2005 in a hospital outside Mule
Creek State Prison in Amador County. He’d often stated that when he died he would
go to hell. When asked what he thought hell was like he said:

“Everything I need and want. No one to call me names; no one to laugh at me and no one to fuck with my head.”

Maybe Hurd’s vision of hell was accurate–I’ve never talked to anyone who knows. .

CHRISTOPHER “GYPSY” GIBBONEY

In May 1972, Gibboney pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the slaying of Florence Brown. He may have been allowed to plead to a lesser charge because the witness against him, Herman Taylor, had gone missing.

By October 1971, Taylor had spent 15 months in jail for being an accessory in the killing of Florence Brown and the hatchet slaying of Jerry Carlin. Judge Byron McMillan thought that was sufficient time and placed him on five years’ formal probation. He was ordered into custody of the California Youth Authority (CYA) because he was on parole at the time the murders were committed. He later vanished from the CYA faciltiy, even though he had agreed to be a state witness against Gibboney.

The penalty for second-degree murder is five years to life in prison. Gibboney was
ordered into the custody of the CYA to begin serving his time.

I don’t know what happened to Gibboney after he was sentenced.

ARTHUR CRAIG HULSE

Craig’s trial began in February 1971. The death penalty was off the table because
Hulse was only 16 years old when the murder occurred. craig_photo

As previously stated, Herman Taylor turned state’s evidence after the district attorney promised to reduce his charges to two counts of accessory to murder.

At Craig’s trial, Taylor testified that he drove his car the night of the murder of Jerry Carlin. Taylor said that he waited in the car while Hulse, who had a hatchet tucked into the waistband of his pants, and Hurd went into the station.

The two forced Carlin to accompany them to the restroom at the back of the station and Taylor later said that he heard “a thumping noise that went on for quite a while.”

When the two returned to the car Hurd told Taylor how easy the robbery had gone and “how good a job Hulse had done.”

According to Taylor, Craig told Hurd to shut up because “he didn’t feel too good”. Taylor also said that Craig got sick to his stomach and vomited once they’d returned to the motel. After the murder Hulse said that he “tried to stay loaded most of the time” on reds and alcohol. That was as close to demonstrating remorse as Craig ever got.

Craig’s attorney’s, Robert Green and Michael Gerbosi, questioned Taylor about the
amount of drugs their client had taken prior to the killing. Taylor described Hulse as “a
stone cold red freak” — a guy who would take four to five reds five to six times in an
hour. However as far as Taylor could recall on the day of the murder Craig had taken
only two reds — he mixed them with water and injected them.

Taylor testified that he’d seen Craig shoot up before, everything from beer and wine to
medicine used on baby’s gums. Taylor said: “He just kept on fixing things.” After
shooting up Craig would sit for several hours or more, arms folded, staring off into
space.

Timothy Montag, the first of the group to be arrested in connection with the murders,
also testified against Craig. He told the court he stayed in Taylor’s motel room the night
of the murder, and the next morning was given a blue denim jacket he found on the
floor. The jacket, which had been given to Carlin by his sister, had some stains on the
back. Montag didn’t ask about them. He further stated that:

“There was a rabbit’s foot in the pocket, but I threw it away.”

On top of the damning statements made by Taylor and Montag, was Craig’s taped
confession to the cops. The confession was ruled admissible as evidence and his own
words buried him.

He had told the police that he “went kinda berserk” and kept hitting Carlin with a
hatchet because Carlin was “bugging him”. Craig said he didn’t recall what Carlin had
said, but he remembered that it made him angry and so he hit him with a hatchet.

In March 1971, after deliberating for about three hours, a jury of eight women and four
men found Arthur “Moose” Hulse guilty of first degree murder.

One of Craig’s attorney’s argued that:

“There was no premeditation and no evidence was presented that the robbery was planned, except for Taylor’s statements.”

A psychiatrist who had examined Craig diagnosed his condition as “pathological
intoxication”.

Craig’s mind may have been addled by drugs when he took a hatchet to Jerry Carlin, but he was found to have been legally sane at the time of the murder and sentenced to life in prison. He was also sentenced to five years in prison for being an accessory in the murder of Florence Brown. Craig began serving his time on March 31, 1971.

In June 1973 a sanity hearing was ordered for Hulse when the District Court of Appeal overturned a finding by Superior Judge Ronald Crookshank. Judge Crookshank had ruled that Hulse was sane at the time of Jerry Carlin’s murder. The sanity hearing didn’t change anything, Craig was again found to have been sane at the time of Carlin’s killing.

AFTERWORD

craig hulse photoWhen I began researching this case I had no idea what had happened to Craig Hulse. On the rare occasions when I thought about him I assumed that he had been paroled, but that’s not what has happened.

In October 2012 Craig was denied parole for the thirteenth time — he will be eligible again in five years.

When I picked Craig up hitchhiking in 1970 he seemed sad and lost, but not evil. Days later when I learned that he’d been arrested in connection with two brutal murders I couldn’t believe it.

When I told my brother Rick that I was going to write about Craig’s case he recalled an incident he hadn’t thought of in years. He said when they were about 12 years old Craig pulled his arm up behind his back until it was painful.  Rick told him to cut it out, and then he noticed a scary expression on Craig’s face — he enjoyed inflicting pain. Their friendship didn’t last much past that.

If he wasn’t already dead inside before June 2, 1970, the kid my family knew perished for all time as soon as he crushed Jerry Carlin’s skull with a hatchet. During the four decades that he’s been incarcerated Craig has, according to the Orange County D.A.’s Office, made no attempt to become a person who can live outside of prison walls. He will almost certainly die there.

The families of his victims bear the toughest burden — the husband and children Florence Brown left behind will always have a void where she should have been all these years. Jerry Carlin died before his wife had the chance to tell him that he was going to become a father.

 It is those people whose loved ones were taken from them that have my empathy and compassion.  Craig is where he belongs.

The Devil in Orange County, Part 3

transient heldCraig Hulse was still on the loose when Timothy Montag, 21, was arrested in connection with the murders of Jerry Carlin and Florence Brown. It wouldn’t take cops long to determine that Montag had no involvement in the two murders, but while in custody he provided the authorities with some useful information.

Timothy belonged to the same bunch of drifters and druggies that Craig hung out with. None of the group had a fixed address, they wandered around Orange County crashing wherever they could: open fields, abandoned cars and occasionally a cheap motel room. The de facto leader of the group was Steven Hurd.

Hurd and Montag had met in February 1969 in a Garden Grove apartment. Montag described the scene:

“There used to be an apartment in Garden Grove where…there was like a brotherhood in dope…kind of like a supermarket…anyone that wanted to do something just went ahead and did it, and if it sounded good to the other people they’d go along.”

The drifters continued to hang out together even after the apartment ceased to be their hang-out.The guys could usually be found near the intersection of Fairview Street and Trask Avenue in Santa Ana getting high, they called the area “The Block”.

The cops had lots of questions for Montag, particularly about the days of the two murders.Timothy related what he could recall.  He said that one member of their group had a car and on June 1st, the night before Jerry Carlin was killed, he and others from “The Block” drove to a motel room in Costa Mesa to party. Montag spent the evening getting wasted and so he “was in no shape to remember anything” and crashed in the room. At 1:15 a.m. June 2, Jerry Carlin was bludgeoned to death with a hatchet — his killers stole $73 from the service station till.

Later the next day members of the group piled into the car and headed south down the Santa Ana Freeway to Scotsman’s Cove, a beach between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach.

Along the way the car stalled on the freeway near the Sand Canyon off-ramp. Montag said:

“We tried to get the car started by crossing the wires on the solenoid, and like the car just wouldn’t kick. Then a Highway Patrol car pulled up behind us.”

The Highway Patrol car was soon joined by three other CHP units and two sheriff’s cars. Montag said:

“Everyone inside the car was popping…reds (Seconal) like mad. So the police rousted us and they found some reds in the car, but like they couldn’t prove whose they were so they cut us loose. Everyone went to the orange grove and crashed except me. I stayed in the car and the next morning I woke up…and hitchhiked back down to Garden Grove. Just as I was splitting I saw the tow truck move up to the back of the car.”

Police theorized that after Montag left a tow truck pushed the car onto Sand Canyon Ave where it was left abandoned on a side street.

About 3 p.m. Florence Brown, driving her Pontiac station wagon, came down the Sand Canyon off-ramp from the northbound Santa Ana Freeway. She was only 200 yards from her destination, a PTA meeting.

Her assailants forced their way into her car and made her drive a few miles west on Sand Canyon to an orange grove. It was there she was repeatedly stabbed by Steven Hurd.

Hurd said he’d killed Brown because she:

“looked at me like I was a tramp, and she called me a bum.”

Following the slaying Steven Hurd, Christopher “Gypsy” Gibboney and Herman Taylor put Brown’s body into her station wagon,and then went back to pick up the rest of their gang of losers. The drifters then callously drove around with Brown’s body in the car.

Det. Lt. Richard Drake of the O.C. Sheriff’s said:

“They drove around the rest of the day–even stopping at Santa Ana to drop off some personal items–with the body in the station wagon. “Then later that night, they drove the station wagon down south (south of Santa Ana) again to get rid of the body.”

Upon investigation police thought it likely that the mutilation of Brown’s body occurred at the Riverside county burial site, and that it was Hurd who had removed the parts for use in a Satanic ritual. Brown’s heart and lungs had been cut out and her right arm had been severed. In addition, three ribs had been removed from her back and strips of flesh had been cut from her upper right leg. The body parts were never found and the cops feared the unthinkable, cannibalism.

cannibalism

Det. Lt. Drake said:

“There was something about the way in which the woman’s body had been mutilated which made us ask some unusual questions.”

After burying Mrs. Brown’s body in a shallow grave the group, which included a drugged out waitress, Mrs. Melanie C. Daniels, 31, reassembled and drove north.

weird trek satan slaying

Hurd wanted to see the man he called “the chief devil”. According to Hurd’s attorney Steven was not referring to the head of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey.

For his part, LaVey was dismissive of many of the so-called devil worshipers of the time and referred to them as: “kooks and creeps who are out of their minds on drugs.”  Maybe LaVey wasn’t Hurd’s chief devil, but I can’t imagine Steven passing up an opportunity to see LaVey’s documentary film SATANIS, released in March 1970.

satanis

The drive up north was particularly bizarre. Hurd was on a mission to visit with the chief devil, whoever he was, and Melanie Daniels wanted to visit a boyfriend of hers who was doing time in San Quentin. Daniels actually got as far as the gate of the prison where guards turned her away.

The group drove Florence Brown’s car south again where they abandoned and then torched the station wagon in Los Gatos. The drifters split up there, each hitchhiking back to Orange County where they were arrested.

murder suspects

Because the band of drifters included three juveniles, Craig “Moose” Hulse (16), Herman Taylor (17), and Christopher “Gypsy” Gibboney, the Orange County D.A. had to decide if the young killers would be tried as adults. Another issue for the law was whether or not the criminals in the case were sane enough to stand trial.

NEXT TIME: Case wrap-up.

The Devil in Orange County, Part 2

BLOOD TRAIL

A trail of blood led from the late 1960s into the new decade of the 1970s: the 1968 assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy; the stabbing death of Meredith Hunter at a December 1969 rock concert in Altamont, California; the August 1969 bizarre and brutal slayings of Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Jay Sebring, Steven Parent, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca; the November 1969 revelation of the My Lai Massacre by American troops of hundreds of civilians in a Vietnamese village; and the killing of 4 unarmed students at Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard during a protest of the U.S. government incursion into Cambodia.

John Filo's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14-year-old runaway kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller minutes after he was shot by the Ohio National Guard.

John Filo’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14-year-old runaway kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller minutes after he was shot by the Ohio National Guard.

It seemed as though the world was on fire and everyone and everything was about to be consumed in a massive conflagration.

Columnist Art Seidenbaum wrote an editorial, The Wind of Fear, for the L.A. Times in which he described the summer of 1970:

“It (fear) swirls and grows around multiple murders. It whistles in the wake of terrorist bombings. It gusts along the roads for hitchhikers and drivers alike.”

In his annual report for the year 1969 J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, stated that while the population of the U.S. had increased only 13% during the previous nine years, the crime rate had increased by 148%. It was a terrifying statistic.

Despite the crime and chaos all around, life appeared to be quiet and safe in Garden Grove, California during the first half of 1970 — but appearances can be deceiving.

JERRY CARLIN

carlin beating deathAt approximately 2 a.m. on June 2, 1970, the body of Jerry W. Carlin was found beaten to death in the restroom of the Richfield Service Station at 3724 Westminster Avenue. The murder was discovered by David Miller, a driver for Southland Ambulance Service. Miller had made a routine stop at the gas station when he found Carlin face down on the blood smeared floor of the restroom. It was the third time Jerry Carlin had been robbed that month. Carlin was only 20 years old, a newly-wed, and he died not knowing that he was going to become a father.

A reward in the amount of $2,000 (approximately $12,000 in current dollars) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who murdered Carlin was offered by someone who asked to remain anonymous.

FLORENCE NANCY BROWN

Two weeks after she’d gone missing, the body of thirty-one year old El Toro School teacher, Mrs. Florence Nancy Brown, was discovered by a hiker in a shallow grave 50 feet off Ortega Highway near El Cariso, about 19 miles southwest of Elsinore.body found

Mrs. Brown had been reported missing on June 4th by her husband, Ralph, after she had failed to return home following a routine errand. It was clear to investigators that Mrs. Brown had been killed elsewhere before being buried off of the Ortega Highway. The Riverside County coroner’s report disclosed Mrs. Brown had died of multiple stab wounds in the chest. The weapon used by her killer was believed to have been a large hunting knife or bayonet, and the victim’s right arm had been severed and her heart and lungs removed. Her wedding and engagement rings, a wristwatch and a number of oil company credit cards had been taken.

Cops didn’t yet know that the two killings were connected, but they would soon get a tip that would reveal the names of the possible killers.

THE KILLERS

craig_photoBy the 1st of July 1970 arrests had been made in connection with the murders of Jerry Carlin and Florence Brown. One of the alleged perpetrators was a 20 year-old transient, Steven Hurd — the other person who was arrested was an old acquaintance of my brother’s, 16 year-old Arthur Craig Hulse, the boy who had my brother’s back in junior high school, and the same the guy that my brother’s best friend and I had picked up hitchhiking shortly before we heard about the murders!

I had never thought of Craig as anything but a kid with an unhappy home life. He wasn’t the brightest of the assorted misfits and oddballs who hung out at our home while my brother and I were growing up, but that had never mattered to any of us. All you had to do to be accepted in our circle of friends was simply be yourself, contribute to the conversations if you wished, be able to take a joke at your expense and respect our home.

In our short lives my brother and I had known people who went had gone down a bad road. Some of the people we had known had died of drug ODs and suicide, others had survived minor brushes with the law, but no one and nothing had prepared us for the summer of 1970.

At first it was impossible to conceive of Craig as someone capable of killing, but then the tale of the two slayings started to unfold; and it was grotesque.

NEXT TIME:  Jerry Carlin, Florence Brown and their killers.