The Devil in Orange County, Conclusion


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.


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 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.


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. .


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.


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

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

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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.