5 of The Most Notorious Crimes That Terrified The Bay Area

6 mins read

In the Bay Area, many notorious serial killers and criminals have made their homes and carved their names in history. Some lived within society seemingly living normal lives as the rest of the region’s residents but have had gruesome stories to tell.

The Zodiac Killer 

The San Francisco Chronicle received the first of several cryptic letters from the self-proclaimed Zodiac Killer on August 01, 1969, which contained various cryptograms that were only completely cracked after several decades by authorities.

The letters revealed the various horrible murders that the Zodiac Killer allegedly committed. According to authorities, no less than five murders belonged to the Zodiac Killer, one teenage boy, three women, and a San Francisco cab driver.

The criminal admitted that he committed another attack on October 11, 1969. However, that didn’t stop him as he continued to send letters to the Chronicle for several years before having a hiatus.

Fong “Little Pete” Ching

The king of Chinatown and leader of the Sam Yup Tong in 1897, Fong “Little Pete” Ching, allegedly killed 50 men and had a worth of over $150,000 from his gambling, opium, and prostitution empire, which was already very valuable in those days.

He always had his two German shepherds, two pistols, a bodyguard, a chain-mail armor vest, and a metal functioning hat as his helmet. However, despite his precautions, Little Pete was brutally killed by two gunmen while he was having his final touches on a shave at a barbershop called the Wong Lung on January 23, 1897. 

When authorities responded to the scene, they discovered the individual’s face was “clean-shaven, powder-marked and bloody, was setting into the fixed stare that marks death.” However, officials were not able to arrest anyone in connection with his death.

Zebra Killers

Killers Larry Green, J.C. Simon, Jesse Lee Cooks, and Manuel Moore were all African Americans who stalked the streets of San Francisco between the autumn of 1973 until the spring of 1974 while they allegedly attacked white people. They were called the Zebra killers, which came from the Z radio channel used by the police department to communicate with the killers. 

Because of panic, Joseph Alioto, then-mayor of San Francisco, ordered that the police department question a black male who would match the killers’ description. After examining hundreds of innocent men, the federal judge stopped the practice.

With a $30,000 reward money from the city, a man went forward to surrender information regarding the seven killers. Authorities gave life imprisonment to all the convicted killers, and later, the state parole board denied Cooks’ release, the San Francisco Gate reported.

Felix Mitchell

Felix Mitchell’s death caused one of the most controversial and well-known outlaw funerals in California history. He was known as the godfather of the drug trade in Oakland. He grew up in the now-demolished 69th Avenue San Antonio Village projects.

Mitchell was responsible for the heroin distribution between the late 70’s up to the early ’80s in all parts of the Bay Area and LA as he was the leader of the 69th Avenue Mob. And because of the drug war, the murder rate rose drastically, and he showed up on the federal agents’ radar later on.

In 1985, a life imprisonment for multiple drug charges and tax evasion was given to him. After only a year in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, Mitchell died of brutal stab wounds. His funeral seemed like he was a president rather than a drug lord in his final homecoming as thousands went out on the East Bay streets to witness his funeral procession march from Oakland to Emeryville. Followed by 14 Rolls Royces limos, his casket was in a horse-drawn carriage. 

Clarence and John Anglin and Frank Morris

The brothers Clarence and John Anglin and Frank Morris escaped their imprisonment on June 12, 1962, where their correctional officers woke up to see nothing but dummies made of toilet paper, human hair, and soap inside the cell. The brothers made holes in the wall using spoons in one year. 

The trio used the holes and ventilation shafts to escape and went to the roof, and they used the raft they made by putting together their standard-issue prisoner raincoats to set off in the waters of inky bay, and no one ever saw them again. 

The U.S. Marshals Services keeps the case open despite many believing that they already drowned in the Angel Island or Marin County. 

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.