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Post by Sick E. Von Brutal May 9th 2016, 8:58 pm

A hair or tiny fleck of dried blood could be the difference between another parole hearing or life in prison for a convicted serial killer.

Phillip Joseph Hughes, Jr., 57, is serving concurrent life sentences for killing three young women in the early 1970s, but investigators believe he may be responsible for other killings, including a 15-year-old Moraga girl who vanished in 1970.

The body of Cosette Ellison was identified by a then-new technique using an X-ray of the bones in her hand. Her case also has drawn in an old high school friend, now a BART police officer, who has been working with investigators.

Nearly a dozen girls and young women disappeared or were killed in Alameda and Contra Costa counties from 1969 to 1979. Hughes is at the top of the suspect list in at least seven of those cases.

"Philip Hughes was convicted of three homicides, but I'm 100 percent positive he is responsible for much more than that," said Paul Holes, supervising criminalist for the Contra Costa Sheriff's forensic services division.

"For any unsolved case from the late 1960s until the time of his arrest (in 1980), he will be considered until he's eliminated as a person of interest."

One of the earliest victims on the unsolved list, Ellison disappeared after school on March 3, 1970. She was a sophomore at Campolindo High, the same school Hughes and one of his victims, 19-year-old Maureen Field, attended earlier.

Like Field, who vanished in November 1972, Ellison's body was found in a ravine off Morgan Territory Road, south of Clayton.

Two of the three women Hughes was convicted of killing were petite brunettes, like Ellison and many of the victims on the unsolved case list. Most lived in the Lamorinda and Walnut Creek area. Others were from Rodeo and San Pablo.

Hughes, who is serving his time at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo, didn't respond to several Times requests for an interview.

In 1980, Hughes was convicted of the 1974 stabbing death of 15-year-old Lisa Ann Beery of Oakland; the 1972 stabbing and strangulation of Field, a Pleasant Hill resident; and the 1975 murder of Letitia Fagot, 25, of Walnut Creek.

Police arrested Hughes, a 31-year-old janitor, after his wife, Suzanne Perrin, told Oakland police in July 1979 about the slayings, bringing an end to seven years of sadomasochistic sex rituals and rape murders.

Perrin testified during Hughes's trial that he wanted to kill a former girlfriend, but feared he was an obvious suspect, so he killed others in place of the petite brunette. "He wanted it to be someone who was close to Cathy's build and looks," Perrin testified.

She confessed to helping her husband dispose of the bodies of Beery and Field and to giving Hughes the names of four female coworkers, including Fagot, as "possible victims for murder."

She received immunity from prosecution for her testimony.

Field, the first victim among Hughes convictions, disappeared Nov. 14, 1972 after work at a Pleasant Hill K-Mart. Her body was found four months later. She had been stabbed and strangled.

Hughes and Perrin kidnapped Beery at knifepoint near her Montclair home on Jan. 26, 1974. The couple took her to an Oakland home where they were house-sitting and Perrin waited upstairs while Hughes stabbed and raped the Oakland choir girl. Police found her body, with Perrin's help, buried on a Rheem hillside in July 1979.

Fagot, Perrin's coworker at the French Bank of California in San Francisco, was found dead in her Los Cerros Avenue home in Walnut Creek on March, 19, 1975. She had been strangled with a cord and bludgeoned with a hammer.

In 1980, Hughes was sentenced to three concurrent terms of 21 years to life in prison. At the time, California's capital punishment law was not in effect and juries didn't have the option of recommending life in prison without parole. Hughes has been eligible for parole since 1986.

On July 25, 2001, a parole board gave Hughes a five-year denial of parole, the maximum allowed, after a hearing where representatives of the victim's families spoke.

Hughes hasn't participated in prison self-help opportunities or therapy since 1993 and psychiatric reports didn't support his release. One commissioner said the reports concluded Hughes has no feelings for others and no idea of society's norms.

"As soon as Phil came forward lots of cases were lumped at him," Holes said.

After his arrest, more than 15 California police agencies asked to question him regarding unsolved cases.

Just as new technology helped police identify Cosette, recent advances in DNA testing eliminated Hughes as a suspect in some cases, such as the 1978 strangulation of Armida Wiltsey at the Lafayette Reservoir.

In 2000, the crime lab notified detectives they now had the equipment to test evidence from the Wiltsey case. The next year, the lab ruled out Hughes as a source of the male DNA found underneath her fingernails, court records show.

But, while Hughes has been cleared in some cases, he remains a person of interest in seven others:

• Leona Roberts, 16, was last seen Nov. 10, 1969 in front of her boyfriend's apartment on Tormey Road in Rodeo. Her body was found at Bolinas Lagoon near Point Reyes on Dec. 28, 1969.

• Elaine Davis, 17, disappeared while baby-sitting her 3-year-old sister at their Pioneer Avenue home in Walnut Creek on Dec. 1, 1969. A body found floating off Light House Point in Santa Cruz in 1969 was exhumed in May 2001 and identified as Davis using dental records.

• Ellison was last seen about 3:30 p.m. March 3, 1970 in the driveway of her Canyon Road home in Moraga. Her remains were found Jan. 1, 1971 in a ravine off of Morgan Territory Road.

• Patricia King, 25, was found near the football stadium at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill on March 5, 1970. She was strangled with her leggings after an evening exercise class.

• Lisa Dickinson, 9, disappeared Sept. 5, 1976 while riding her bike from her home on Los Cerros Avenue in Walnut Creek toward Heather Farms Park. Her bike was found leaning against a tree inside the park, but the girl has never been found.

• Lou Ellen Burleigh, 21, of Walnut Creek vanished Sept. 11, 1977 on her way to a job interview at a Pleasant Hill shopping center on Contra Costa Boulevard.

• Tara Cossey, 9, was last seen while walking to the Pirelli's Liquor store in San Pablo to purchase a bag of sugar for her mother on June 6, 1979.

"Their families don't have closure, there's no justice," Holes said. "It always burns me that these people think they got away with it."

And there are the victims themselves.

"You see a picture of Cosette and you feel something," Holes said. "There's something that catches you -- they were robbed of life."

In the 1970s, other serial killers were at work in Northern California including the Zodiac and the I-5 Strangler, Roger Kibbe, but Holes isn't convinced that Hughes was inactive from 1975 until his arrest five years later.

"There's very little crime in the Walnut Creek and Lamorinda areas," Holes said. "To me, it's more than a coincidence that housewives and young girls turned up missing or dead in a common area."

Sgt. Steve Warne, supervising investigator with the Sheriff's Office homicide division, said detectives periodically review cold cases, especially those most likely to be solved with new and developing technology.

It was a chance sighting of a poster marking some of that new technology used in the Ellison case that led Kim Garner, her friend and former classmate, to lend her knowledge to the investigation.

Ellison's body had been the first in Contra Costa to be identified using X-ray comparisons and the poster was created to commemorate the milestone

"My whole life, that had been in the back of my mind," Garner said. "It was weird, I'd do something like go horseback riding with my sister or go somewhere new and I'd think 'It's too bad Cosette couldn't be here.'"

At this point in Cosette's case, a break would likely come from the forensics lab, Warne said.

"Pretty much everything that exists in that case is related to the evidence. If there's some new technology that can develop any leads we'll dig back into it," he said.

"One more case could keep Hughes in jail," Hole said.
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Post by Sick E. Von Brutal May 9th 2016, 9:06 pm

Teenager Joseph Field answered the phone and quickly handed it to his father, as he and his Moraga family nervously awaited word of his sister Maureen, missing for three days.

"Hello, Mr. Field," a man said over a crackling connection 39 years ago. "Your daughter is dead and I'm the one who killed her."

"At that point, all hell broke loose," Field said. "My mom kept screaming, 'My baby! My baby! My baby!' And I just remember my parents holding each other in their arms for what seemed like forever."

She was the first victim of Phillip Hughes, later convicted of killing her, an Oakland girl and a Walnut Creek woman.

These tragedies were only three of many in a terrifying decade when a parade of monsters preyed on women in the region.

"From Santa Cruz to San Francisco to Contra Costa to Sonoma you see a spike in the number of female bodies recovered" then, said Paul Holes, Contra Costa's crime lab chief.

The discovery this year of an I-5 Strangler victim's bone at Lake Berryessa and the arrest of a Nevada man accused of four slayings reopened a window into a tragic time.

At least six of the most infamous serial killers of the 1970s committed at least one crime in Contra Costa County, and probably more, Holes says. Serial killing suspect Joseph Naso, arrested in April outside Reno, is No. 6, prosecutors say.

anything sound familiar from that?
"Hello, Mr. Field," a man said over a crackling connection 39 years ago. "Your daughter is dead and I'm the one who killed her."
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Post by Sick E. Von Brutal May 9th 2016, 9:09 pm

Serial killers are often sexual predators who target strangers, making their crime sprees difficult to solve, Holes said. They each have characteristic methods and a signature that completes their fantasies.

Many of Contra Costa's serial killings occurred in suburban areas, where families had moved to avoid violence.

"You had clusters of people killed in southern Contra Costa County in nice areas where people thought it was safe and maybe wouldn't lock their doors," Holes said.

It also was easier for 1970s serial killers to get away with murder.

DNA technology, fingerprinting science and interagency communication were in their infancy, hindering crime solving.

"Even cold cases unsuccessful five years ago, newer technology could help us now," said Holes, a cold case enthusiast.

White spiral binders lining his shelves bear the names of victims of unsolved crimes. The 43-year-old started working in Contra Costa's crime lab straight out of college about two decades ago and now manages the 30 scientists there.

Most forensic investigators in the lab focus on recent crimes, but a grant two years ago enabled Holes to hire a cold case investigator and DNA analysts. The money is running out, but he plans to continue reviewing cold cases.

"If you've seen when a (victim's) family finally gets information," Holes said, "it's not closure, but they are happy that they finally know."

Phillip Hughes

Joseph Field was 16 when his sister's killer called.

Three months later, Maureen Field's body was found at the foot of Mount Diablo.

"Whenever a situation like this happens with a murder in the family, it's like a bomb was dropped," Field said in a recent interview at his Walnut Creek comic book store.

Maureen Field was Phillip Hughes' first confirmed victim. The Moraga native and Campolindo High School graduate was Contra Costa's first serial killer of the 1970s and one of its most notorious.

"He started by killing small animals," Holes said. "In high school, he would break into houses while naked, stealing women's bras. He would return home, put them on and start stabbing the cups with a knife."

He was 24 years old in 1972 when he offered a ride home to Maureen Field, a former neighbor, at a Pleasant Hill Kmart. He stabbed and strangled her near Saint Mary's College in Moraga and dumped her body some 20 miles away at the foot of Mount Diablo near Clayton with the help of his wife, Suzanne Perrin.

Two years later, Hughes and Perrin kidnapped 15-year-old Lisa Ann Beery at knife point near her Montclair home and took her to an Oakland home where Hughes stabbed and raped the choir girl. Police found her body five years later buried on a Moraga hillside.

On March 19, 1975, Hughes, then a Pleasanton janitor, broke into the Walnut Creek house of 25-year-old Letitia Fagot, who worked at a bank with his wife, who had suggested he target her. Hughes strangled and beat Fagot with a hammer.

Perrin confessed to helping Hughes dispose of Beery and Field and to giving him the names of four co-workers as "possible victims for murder." Hughes sought girls resembling an ex-girlfriend who had spurned him, she told prosecutors, testifying in return for immunity.

Hughes was convicted in 1980 of the three murders and sentenced to three concurrent terms of 21 years to life in prison. He is at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo and has been eligible for parole since 1986.

Hughes, now 63 and remarried in prison, remains a person of interest in six other slayings.

One Lafayette killing appeared to be linked to Hughes, until Holes investigated.

Darryl Kemp

Jogger Armida Wiltsey's body was found Nov. 14, 1978, in brush near the Lafayette Reservoir trail. She had been strangled and had evidence of binding on her wrists.

Her murder was unsolved for decades, but the location and time had early investigators pointing to Hughes.

After Holes took over the county's forensic lab he noticed one of Wiltsey's fingernails had a speck of blood on it. DNA from it eliminated Hughes as a suspect.

Holes investigated further and found that a parole officer had alerted investigators to a "Darryl Kemp" found peeping into a Walnut Creek home days before Wiltsey's murder, but his girlfriend had an alibi for him.

In 2002, Holes matched DNA in Kemp's hair with the genetic makeup of the blood on the fingernail.

Kemp was serving a life sentence in Texas for three rapes. He was extradited to Contra Costa, where he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death in 2009.

Kemp, 75, awaits execution on Death Row at San Quentin State Prison.

It was Kemp's second death sentence. The first time, he was convicted of two rapes and of raping and murdering a Los Angeles nurse, in the 1950s.

His sentence, however, was commuted in 1972 to life in prison when the California Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional. He killed Wiltsey four months after he was paroled in 1978.

Charles Jackson

In 2005, Holes helped solve the cold case murder of 11-year-old Moraga resident Cynthia Waxman. Police long suspected Hughes, but advances in DNA testing linked Cynthia's murder to another serial killer, Charles "Junior" Jackson.

Jackson, 64, died of a heart attack in 2002 while serving a life sentence at Folsom State Prison for the 1982 Montclair rape and stabbing death of Joan Stewart.

Jackson -- a former handyman who grew up in Louisiana -- spent most of his adult life in prison on rape, burglary, assault and child molestation charges and posthumously was linked to seven Oakland and Albany killings.

The Moraga fifth-grader was Jackson's only known child victim, which threw off investigators.

Cynthia's mother found the girl's body April 22, 1978, in a wooded area off Moraga Road behind Campolindo High School. She and a cousin had been playing with a kitten. Cynthia disappeared when her cousin went to buy food for the cat.

East Area Rapist

An entire file cabinet drawer in Holes' office is dedicated to one of the nation's most notorious but never identified serial rapists and killers: the East Area Rapist, also known as the Original Night Stalker.

Known for horrendous Northern and Southern California crime sprees in the 1970s and '80s, the rapist -- not the same as Richard Ramirez, called the Night Stalker -- terrorized Contra Costa.

The media dubbed him the East Area Rapist for crimes in eastern Sacramento in mid-1976. He moved down the Interstate 80 corridor, committing more rapes, and settled in Contra Costa, where he attacked at least nine women in the Concord, Walnut Creek, Danville and San Ramon areas in the late 1970s.

In many cases, he broke into houses where a man and woman were sleeping, shined a flashlight in their eyes, used a gun to force the woman to tie up her husband, and wrapped towels around their faces. He would pile dishes on the man's back and threaten to kill both of them if he heard the dishes fall.

A multiagency task force of 16 full-time investigators tried to identify a suspect.

"There are some crimes that strike to the heart of what scares all of us more than others," said former Sheriff Warren Rupf, a captain in investigations during the spree. "The victims were all asleep in their homes. How more vulnerable could you be?"

The East Area Rapist disappeared in 1979 after a couple of rapes in the San Jose area.

But in 2001, Holes linked the East Area Rapist's DNA profile with that of Southern California's Original Night Stalker. The Contra Costa rapist did not stop assaulting women; he had moved south -- and started killing.

He killed at least eight women and men in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Orange counties in the 1980s, and likely killed two more.

In 1986, the crimes stopped. He may have died, moved away or been jailed. Investigators are unsure.

'I-5 Strangler'

Roger Kibbe found himself in Contra Costa after being paroled to the Oakley area in 1972.

He started stealing women's underwear off laundry lines and cutting them up. When he began killing, he unnecessarily cut victims' clothing, Holes said.

Kibbe's first and only Contra Costa victim was Walnut Creek resident Lou Ellen Burleigh, 21, who disappeared Sept. 11, 1977, after agreeing to meet a man advertising a job at a cosmetics studio.

Kibbe, who confessed to the crime, got her into his van. Last month, DNA testing confirmed that it was Burleigh's remains found near Lake Berryessa in March.

Kibbe moved to the Sacramento area in 1982 and began killing prostitutes and stranded motorists along the Interstate 5 corridor. The press dubbed him the "I-5 Strangler."

"Classic anger displacement," Holes said. "His wife was nagging him at home. He'd take it, then drive and drive and some nights find a victim."

In 2008, a San Joaquin County criminal grand jury indicted Kibbe in six more murders, including Burleigh's. Kibbe was serving a 25-year-to-life prison term in San Quentin State Prison for killing an El Dorado County teen. In exchange for confessing to the murders, he took a plea deal for life in prison.

Kibbe, now 72, told investigators he had no other victims.

"We're not sure if we believe him or not," Walnut Creek police Sgt. Tom Cashion said in 2009.

Joseph Naso

Contra Costa's most recent serial killing suspect is Naso, a self-employed photographer who kept a trove of bondage photographs of women and written torture fantasies, police and sources say.

Marin County prosecutors in April charged the Reno resident with the murders of four women in Northern California -- two in the 1970s, two in the 1990s -- including Carmen Colon, found near Crockett in August 1978.

Coincidentally, one of Naso's alleged victims, Tracy Tafoya, is buried a few feet from a grave marker for more than a dozen victims of another 1970s serial killer, Juan Corona. The Machete Murderer was convicted in 1972 of butchering 25 day laborers in a span of six weeks.

Holes has a list of 15 unsolved slayings of women in Contra Costa in the 1970s.

"Definitely more serial predators committed crimes in Contra Costa," Holes said. "There are some where we have suspects, we have just not proved the case."
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Post by Sick E. Von Brutal May 9th 2016, 9:11 pm

was Hughes ever looked at for the Z crimes? if so was he cleared and why? maybe because of the rape it didn't really fit?
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Post by ophion1031 May 9th 2016, 11:38 pm

Eric X wrote:was Hughes ever looked at for the Z crimes? if so was he cleared and why? maybe because of the rape it didn't really fit?

I have no clew Very Happy but to be honest, I don't know much about the guy other than what you posted. That phone call is pretty interesting, though.

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Post by ophion1031 February 7th 2017, 11:45 pm

Hughes was probably too young to be Zodiac, I think he would have been 20 or 21 in 1969, but some things about him are interesting. I think Zodiac is/was from Alameda County, which Hughes is/was.

I find a few things interesting about him, but work is busy as hell right now so I will have to post those another time.

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Post by ColeThornton May 8th 2017, 12:40 pm

Hughes was too young to be Zodiac. I'd be interested to hear what you have on him though.


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Post by Sick E. Von Brutal May 8th 2017, 10:23 pm

oh yeah too young for sure. his murders don't sound anything like Z's either. I just figured I would post about him for the hell of it.
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