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Yesterday's Crimes

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Yesterday's Crimes: Rolling Stones, Hells Angels and Busted Heads at Altamont

Posted By on Wed, Aug 10, 2016 at 8:00 AM

  • Beth Bagby
A melee broke out on Dec. 6, 1969 in front of the hastily constructed stage at the Altamont Speedway as the Rolling Stones played "Sympathy for the Devil." Several Hells Angels jumped into the crowd. Sawed-off pool cues came down on skulls and boots broke bones. Somewhere in all the dust and tangled humanity was the glint of a gun followed by the flash of a blade.

Mick Jagger in a two-tone satin blouse resembled a frightened harlequin as he struggled to calm a crowd of 300,000 people, many of them hard tripping on acid, mescaline and Lord knows what else.

"Everybody be cool now," he said after getting Keith Richards to stop riffing on a slightly out-of-tune guitar.

"People! Who's fighting and what for?" he pleaded.

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Yesterday's Crimes: The Disappearing Police Chief

Posted By on Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 11:30 AM

Wiliam J. Biggy, San Francisco Chief of Police from 1907-1908. - WIKIMEDIA
  • Wikimedia
  • Wiliam J. Biggy, San Francisco Chief of Police from 1907-1908.
There's been a high rate of turnover among police chiefs on both sides of the Bay lately, but there was a time when a San Francisco chief of police disappeared into the briny depths of the bay itself.

William J. Biggy was maybe the only honest man in a thoroughly corrupt city when he was appointed chief of police in September 1907. Mayor Eugene "Handsome Gene" Schmitz had been found guilty of extortion only three months earlier in June. Biggy's predecessor, Chief Jeremiah Dinan, was forced to resign while facing perjury charges.

Political boss Abe Ruef, the head crook who installed all these other crooks in office, was on trial in a massive corruption case where every member of the Board of Supervisors confessed to receiving bribes from Ruef and his bagmen. Biggy himself rose to prominence when he was appointed as to guard Ruef at the St. Francis Hotel because nobody who worked in the jails could be trusted with the job.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Yesterday's Crimes: The SLA, FBI, and Assassination Attempts on Gerald Ford

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Shots ring out as President Gerald Ford emerges from the St. Francis Hotel. - GERALD R. FORD LIBRARY AND MUSEUM
  • Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum
  • Shots ring out as President Gerald Ford emerges from the St. Francis Hotel.

Manson acolyte Lynne "Squeaky" Fromme pulled a gun on President Gerald Ford on Sept. 5, 1975, but Ford was undeterred as he headed into an election year. He had been elected neither president nor vice president, ascending to both offices through Watergate. The 1976 presidential campaign held his one chance for electoral legitimacy, so he went on with his schedule of "contacting the American people as I travel from one state to another" as if nothing had happened.

Ford was back in California days later on Sept. 22, 1975 for a meeting with a labor organization at the St. Francis Hotel at Union Square. After the meeting, Ford emerged from the hotel's Post Street entrance, and paused to wave at the crowd of potential voters.

Oliver "Billy" Sipple had been waiting for three hours that day in the hopes of seeing the president. When Ford waved at the crowd, Sipple, an ex-Marine and Vietnam vet, saw a woman pointing a chrome-plated .38 right at the president.

"I screamed 'gun' as loud as I could, and grabbed her arm," Sipple told the Associated Press. "I seen a gun and dived for it. I don't even know what I felt."

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Yesterday's Crimes: The Shitshow That Was the 1964 GOP Convention

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 10:34 AM

  • Democracy in Action," Hearst Metrotone News, Inc. via
The 1964 Republican National Convention was nearly a mirror image of what’s going on in Cleveland this week, but in some ways, it was so much worse.

It was nearly 10 p.m. on July 14 when Nelson Rockefeller took the podium at the Republican National Convention at the Cow Palace on the suburban edge of San Francisco. The New York governor and scion of one of America’s richest families represented the now entirely extinct liberal wing of the GOP, and the dying-off started that year, if not that very night.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Yesterday's Crimes: Squeaky Fromme, Charles Manson, & Assassination Attempts

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 8:00 AM

  • Randy Heinitz/Flickr
Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. became vice president when then-VP Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace on Oct. 10, 1973 following a bribery scandal. Ford became president less than a year later when Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace following a number of scandals on Aug. 9, 1974.

Ford's unlikely presidency is best remembered for the time he fell down the Air Force One stairs during a diplomatic visit to Austria. In the early days of Saturday Night Live, Chevy's Chase's impression of Ford consisted of nothing more than a series of pratfalls before emerging from the stage floor with the familiar, "Live from New York..."

Ford was hardly the kind of divisive figure to inspire one potential assassin, let alone two of them. But in September 1975, Ford survived two different assassination attempts in as many weeks.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Yesterday's Crimes: The Lavender Panthers, San Francisco's LGBT Vigilantes

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 4:14 PM

The Reverend Ray Broshears, an ordained minister and gay rights activist with a mustache to die for, was beaten senseless on July 4, 1973. He had called the police earlier on "some young toughs" who were lighting fireworks outside of his Helping Hands Gay Community Service Center.

The police showed up and didn't do much except tell the toughs who had called them. Once the cops took off, the toughs went to work on the reverend in what turned out to be an origin story worthy of a superhero movie.

Two days later, Rev. Ray (as he preferred to be called) took a page from San Francisco's vigilante history as he brandished a rifle at a press conference.

"Flanked by two 'drag queens armed with rifles and pistols," according to the Associated Press, he announced that the Lavender Panthers would be patrolling Polk Street and South of Market armed with sawed-off pool cues.

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Yesterday's Crimes: The Pit of Juvenile Depravity

Posted By on Thu, Jun 9, 2016 at 8:00 AM

  • Randy Heinitz/Flickr
Something wasn't right in the Anderson house just outside of Yuba City in Northern California on Sept. 13, 1946.

"We found fragments of flesh and bone and blood scattered about the bedroom and part of a charge fired from a shotgun in the wall," Sutter County District Attorney Lloyd Hewitt told the San Francisco Examiner. "A crude attempt had been made to clean up the room and to burn the bedsheets and other things. An analysis has shown the blood was human blood."

"There can be no doubt that someone was murdered in the Anderson home," Hewitt added.

W.H. "Dick" Anderson, a 50-year-old ranch hand, and his young wife, Donnie, 26, were missing. The family's two cars were also gone.

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Yesterday’s Crimes: The San Francisco Torso Murder

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2016 at 9:53 AM

  • Randy Heinitz/Flickr
The four boys were horsing around on Market Street past a row of grand movie palaces on Sunday, Sept. 8, 1946. They ran past the Esquire, the Warfield and the Regal. When they got to the Paramount, they smelled something really bad.

They followed their noses to the alleyway on the side of the theater at Jones Street where they found a pair of large, cardboard egg crates.

The boys kicked the crates. Rancid human remains spilled out onto the ground.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Yesterday's Crimes: "Working And Homicide Is Two Different Things"

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 12:19 PM

  • Randy Heinitz/Flickr
The only thing worse than waking up in an East San Jose carport on New Year's Day is being found dead in one. That's what happened to Ines Sailer, an attractive 23-year-old German kindergarten teacher on Jan. 1, 1981.

Sailer was last seen leaving a New Year's Eve party in the Richmond District. When she was found nearly 60 miles south the next day, she had been sodomized and shot five times in the body and the brain with a small-caliber handgun. Police believed that she was murdered somewhere else and then dumped in San Jose.

Making things stranger, investigators found a slip of paper in Sailer's wallet with Valerie McDonald's name and phone number written on it. McDonald's 1981 disappearance and murder has been covered in the past three installments of "Yesterday's Crimes."

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Yesterday's Crimes: A Box of Bones and the Disappearance of Valerie McDonald

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2016 at 8:15 AM


This is the third installment in a three-part series on the disappearance of Valerie McDonald from her North Beach apartment on Nov. 9, 1980. Here are the links to parts one and two.

It took over 20 years to identify the human skull and pieces of torso found on the floodplain of the Kettle River just outside of Danville, Wash. near the U.S.-Canadian border.

J.R. Sharp was just a volunteer deputy with the Ferry County Sheriff's Office when the bones were first examined and stored in the basement evidence room, but he stayed with the case even after they failed to match a nearby missing persons case.

"The driving factor was we had some human remains in our evidence room and a family out there," Sharp told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2003.

"It's our responsibility to that family to do all we can to make an identification," he added.

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