Authors: Fred Rosen
The Evil Mother Whose Gang Secretly Preyed on a City
For my Uncle Izzie and summer
afternoons together in the
bleachers at Yankee Stadium
A WORD ABOUT SOURCES
The story began as an article in the June 1997 issue of
. But as with any article, there is never enough space. I didn’t get to explore the gang phenomenon as in-depth as I wanted to. Thus the book you hold in your hand.
The story you are about to read is true. Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved who were on the periphery of the case. Also, whenever possible, the names of underage gang members have been changed. All name changes appear initially in italics.
Interviews, official documents, including wiretaps, warrants, statements to police, as well as excerpts of official trial transcripts and indigenous news accounts, have all been used in the writing of this book.
A few scenes have been presented out of chronological order not for dramatic effect, but to simplify the narrative. Likewise, the investigation involved many police officers and for the sake of clarity, the story is presented principally through the eyes of the two lead cops.
“And thus I clothe my naked villainy with old odd ends … and seem a saint when most I play the devil.”
CLEVELAND, OHIO, 1976
It had been a gathering of bikers, outlaws who reveled in free sex and violence. Mary Fockler had been there and had a great time and when it was time to go home, she didn’t want the party to end. So her roommate drove her to a biker clubhouse. Her goal was to have a good time.
Fockler was a very attractive woman, tall and well-built. She had piercing blue eyes that seemed to go right through you. They gave her a special, almost charismatic air. But all that was irrelevant to the bikers. They wanted sex, pure and simple, and as long as Fockler didn’t look like Godzilla, it was going to be a rather pleasant late afternoon.
If Fockler had one particular peccadillo, it was an insane love of animals. You know the type; they think of animals as little human beings, only with a lot more hair. Which was why Fockler took her dog with her wherever she went. Even over to a Hells Angels clubhouse for sex, drugs and rock and roll.
While she was having sex with the bikers, Fockler’s dog got into a disagreement with a biker’s mutt. Fockler happened to glance over and noticed that her dog was losing the fight. In panic lest her “snookums” should die, she ran out into the street half clad.
Police arrived and Fockler now claimed the bikers raped her. Fockler’s case was taken up by the media. The image of a half-naked woman running through the streets of Cleveland shouting, “I was raped, I was raped,” was too good to be true. The burgeoning women’s movement, seeing the perfect poster child for the cause of abused women everywhere in the plight of “poor” Mary Fockler, took her case to its collective bosom. They pressed the police for immediate action.
Police brought in thirty-two of the bikers for questioning. Thirteen were eventually arrested, and Fockler identified five of the thirteen as the men who raped her. A trial was set.
Almost immediately, rumors began swirling through the Cleveland underground that the accused men actually belonged to a rival motorcycle gang, not the one Fockler associated with, and that she was just “getting them.”
Before the trial, Fockler was drinking in a bar when a uniformed cop happened to enter. His name was
. Joking around, Fockler went up to him and said, “Where were you when I needed you?”
Because one of the accused was a close friend of Sampson’s, he doubted her story. But Sampson was young and inexperienced and apparently would do anything for a friend. He told her that maybe something could be done about the situation. Fockler said all she wanted to do was blow town and start a new life.
Sampson figured the bikers would pay her to drop the charges. There would be nothing wrong with that, Sampson reasoned, because she was lying anyway. But by that time, Fockler was enjoying all the attention she was getting. She was an impressionable woman who, for the first time in her life, was the center of attention. And she craved more.
Ever the “honest” woman, Fockler told police that Sampson approached
and offered her a bribe. Internal affairs cops put a tap on her phone. When she called Sampson, they discussed a grand and a plane ticket out of town in return for Fockler dropping charges. Sampson was eventually fired.
That was one man Fockler had brought down. One down and five to go. But Fockler wasn’t done with her con job. Not just yet.
At the trial, Fockler dressed for the occasion in bright, loose clothes instead of her usual tight leathers. The women’s movement had suggested the change so the jury would think of her as younger and more virginal. The prosecution, who sincerely believed Fockler’s story, did not hesitate to call her to the stand. After recounting the alleged rape, it was defending attorney Rocco Russo’s turn to question her.
Russo had discovered that Fockler had a very interesting tattoo which he brought to the jury’s attention. When he asked Fockler to reveal it, she shyly opened the top of her blouse. There, for the jury to see, was a tattoo of a butterfly above her breast. The jury reasoned that the tattoo didn’t go with the image of the cute little girl, a supposition confirmed when Russo produced ten men who had watched as she was tattooed.
When it was the defense’s turn, Russo’s key witness was Fockler’s married sister Judy who testified that Fockler had, from an early age, been a habitual liar. She explained to the jury that the only reason she agreed to testify for the defense was because she was determined to have her sister get help for her problems.
“My sister is excited about her new-found fame,” Judy testified. “She calls me at noon from the courthouse phone and tells me she’s going to be famous,” Judy said. “She’s going to be on the Johnny Carson show.”
Helluva surprise for Johnny.
When the five men were found not guilty of raping Mary Fockler, their fellow bikers rose as one and applauded the jury, while demanding justice be dispensed to the woman who had maligned them all. The judge, disgusted at the whole proceeding, released the defendants and banged down his gavel to close the proceedings.
Mary Fockler had had a rapid rise to fame and an even more rapid fall. It had been heady in that rarefied atmosphere where everyone listened to her and she was the star attraction. So what if she’d lied? She’d gotten the attention, hadn’t she? She’d almost put the con over. But now that she had been discredited, it was time to leave town.
Fockler felt that her greatest fame still lay in front of her. After all, she hadn’t made Johnny’s show yet, had she?
SEPTEMBER 24, 1994
It was the first day of burning season and fires blazed all around Eugene, Oregon.
Jim Michaud stood at the front door of his rustic home on the outskirts of the city. As he sipped a martini, he thought back to the many burning seasons of his youth, when his father would set the barrels up outside their home, fill them with anything that needed burning, and set them on fire. Their neighbors would be doing the same thing, so a ring of controlled fire would encircle their neighborhood.
Burning season was the beginning of fall, a time to burn your detritus. Michaud liked to think that it was also an opportunity to burn from memory any sins committed against others, an opportunity to create a slate that was clean and purified by fire.
Some might consider such existential thoughts to be unusual for a country boy like Michaud. A true Westerner, he had grown up in the backwoods of Oregon where he hunted and fished, first as a child, then as an adolescent and now as a forty-one-year-old adult. Yet he was anything but a backwoodsman.
That martini in his hand, for instance. Most guys he knew at work preferred a beer. His taste, though, ran to something a little more refined. He took a sip of the drink, made with Bombay gin and dry Martini & Rossi vermouth, then looked out at the fires again.
This time, the fires made him think about a pig roast he and Paula had thrown when they’d moved in last year. They had invited all their friends over, used a backhoe to dig a pit and filled it with white-hot charcoal and then added the pièce de résistance, a full-size pig. The poor sucker was covered with earth and left to roast its guts out until later in the day when it was dug up and dug into. But again, Michaud was a man of contrasts. Pig roasts might be fun once every ten years, but he liked to cook more sophisticated dishes like beef bourguignon, adding the spices carefully on the “island” that stood in the kitchen of his home.
He looked down at his watch and pressed the dial that made it light up in that bright turquoise color that was all the rage now. It said 11:17. Time for bed. He liked to get into work early, before anyone else arrived.
Turning, he walked through french doors into the kitchen, then through the living room with its projection TV. Except for the modern appliances like the TV, the house might as well have been in Montana, decorated as it was with wooden beams and wooden flooring, Plains Indian blankets and Plains Indian art.
Michaud walked into the second bedroom on the left, furnished with a queen-size bed and two dressers. The room looked lived-in, with things out of place, sort of comfortable and confused at the same time.
Draped over a chair beside his bed was a cross-hatched shoulder holster. It was a lateral draw, so the butt of his .45mm Sig Sauer automatic faced out, affording a quick, easy draw. On the front straps were a shiny lawman’s star and a beeper.
He slipped into bed beside his sleeping fiancée Paula and heard the steady sing-song of her breath, in and out, in and out. He paused for a moment, contemplating her beautiful form beneath the sheets, and then put his hand on her, slowly caressing. Soon, she turned toward him and they intertwined.
Too many times, Michaud had been in the middle of making love when murder intervened. He hoped this would not be one of them.
The teenagers, who had gathered late at night in a park in the city, could see the flames from scattered fires. As they smelled the odor of leaves and other things burning,
pressed the release on the stopwatch and shouted, “Go!”
Lisa Fentress jumped into a circle of white middleclass teenagers who had gathered in a deserted lot on the outskirts of Eugene. As the circle closed in on Lisa, she was pounded on all sides by fists and feet. Hudson kept looking at his stopwatch. His gang leader had told him that Lisa should go first, and that a proper
, or gang-initiation ceremony, lasted a precise time, specifically seventy-four seconds. When seventy-four seconds were up, he shouted, “Stop!”
The gang members, Joe, Jim, Angel,
Larry, Wayde, Linda, Jack, Cameron, Jasmine, Lennie
, all drew back. Lisa lay bruised and bloody, a cut across her bottom lip, her eyes already swelling shut.
“Welcome to the Seventy-four Hoover Crips,” Hudson shouted triumphantly. He handed her a blue
, actually a bandanna. Whenever she wore it, it would signify her gang membership because blue was the “official” gang color. “Lisa, you’re now a full-fledged member of the gang,” Hudson shouted. With that, the videotape recorder that had been brought to record the event was turned off.
The gang leader had told Wayde Hudson that there was a difference between mixing in and jumping in as a means of entry into a gang.
means that the gang beats you up until they consider you to be sufficiently beaten to be a member of the gang.
means taking the fall for somebody who is a gang member. If you take the rap for them and they avoid being prosecuted for something they’ve done, then you’re mixed in.”
Few if any of the 74 Hoover Crips had had prior gang experience, and therefore never questioned their gang leader’s definitions. Had they, they would have discovered that there was actually no difference between mixing in and jumping in, that they were in fact the same thing.
The gang Lisa had joined was a bunch of punk-ass white kids, high school dropouts who thought that, because they banded together and took the name of a black street gang that controlled part of southeast Los Angeles, they were cool.
These were kids who, while they may not have grown up with silver spoons in their mouths, knew nothing of poverty, nothing of discrimination because of skin color and, most importantly, nothing of manipulation by a gang leader. They were not cynical, tired beyond their years from exposure to constant street violence, the type of kids who knew a con man when they saw one. They were kids, with time on their hands, looking for the thrill that violence affords, something exciting enough to get their blood going when they weren’t stoned or drunk.