The Vegetarian Moslem Warriors

Their twisted new age-ism and self-created Islamic beliefs, along with drug-induced paranoia, formed their strange moral code. They were on a mission from God to exterminate anyone they believed to be a witch, earning them the media nickname, the “San Francisco Witch Killers,” but they preferred to be known as “vegetarian Moslem warriors.”

James Clifford Carson, also known as Michael Bear Carson and Susan Barnes Carson, who adopted the name Suzan Bear Carson are two serial killers convicted for three murders between 1982 and 1983 in Northern California and the San Francisco Bay Area.

A married man, James Carson, who also had a master’s degree in Chinese studies, living with one child in Phoenix, Arizona in 1981 when his wife noticed severe behavior changes and left with their child. It was shortly afterwards that Carson began a relationship with Suzan Barnes, who had two teenage sons and who had also recently divorced.

At some point James Carson took the name of “Michael Bear Carson”, telling his daughter in a letter that God had given him the new name “Michael.” Susan also changed her name becoming known as “Suzan Bear.”

In 1979, the Carsons went to Europe. There, the two supposedly married one evening while visiting Stonehenge in England.

By 1980, they had returned to the U.S. and were living as Michael and Suzan Bear in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco.They also continued their involvement with drugs and the counterculture.

By this time, Michael Bear Carson’s former wife had become afraid that he would harm her and try to abduct or gain custody of their child, so she took steps to hide herself and the child from him, including moving many times and cutting off contact with mutual acquaintances.

In March 1981, 22-year-old Keryn Barnes, an aspiring petite, redheaded actress from Georgia who had been the Carsons roommate in Haight-Ashbury, was found dead in their shared apartment. Her skull crushed and stabbed 13 times her body was found wrapped in a blanket and hidden in the basement.

Evidence showed that Keryn died at the hands of someone she knew, and the Carsons were the prime suspects, but they disappeared before the body was found.

The Carsons fled to a mountain hideout near Grants Pass, Oregon, where they remained until spring 1982. They then moved to Alderpoint, California, near Garberville in Humboldt County, California, where they lived and worked on a marijuana farm as caretakers and guards.

Some of their fellow workers on the farm said the Carsons were anarchists who advocated revolution and predicted that an apocalypse or nuclear war would soon occur. In May 1982, the Carsons’ had an ongoing dispute with another worker on the farm, Clark Stephens.

Eventually, Michael killed Stephens by shooting him, after which the Carsons’ attempted to dispose of his body by dragging it into the woods, dismembering it and burning it, then burying it under chicken fertilizer, before leaving the area. Two weeks later, friends of Clark reported his disappearance to the Humboldt County Sheriffs’ Office, who investigated and found his’ drivers’ license and burnt remains in the woods.

The Carsons, who at that point were known to their co-workers and law enforcement as the Bears, were suspects due to their dispute with Stephens. Upon searching belongings the Carsons had left behind, detectives found an anti-government manifesto written by the Carsons that called for the assassination of then-President Ronald Reagan and entertainer Johnny Carson.

Alderpoint is an area that’s been locally dubbed as “Murder Mountain.” This is near where my brother, Adam, became involved in the shooting death of Michael Clawson on September 23, 1989.

Detectives had trouble tracking down the Carsons because they had avoided any interactions with government authorities over the years – for example, obtaining drivers’ licenses. However that changed in November 1982, when police picked Michael up in Los Angeles after being reported by someone who saw him hitchhiking and knew the law wanted him for murder in Humboldt County.

Through a police error, Carson was quickly freed and disappeared again before Humboldt County detectives had a chance to question him. But detectives caught a lucky-break as Michael left evidence behind, including a mug shot, address information, and a gun in a police car, that caused investigators to realize that the Bear’s were actually the Carsons.

The Carsons’ so-called ‘witch-hunt’ finally came to an end in March 1983 as they were hitchhiking near Bakersfield, California and were given a ride by 30-year-old Jon Hellyar, who was driving to Santa Rosa, California. While Jon was driving on U.S. Route 101 near Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, an argument and physical fight broke out between Jon and the Carsons, resulting in the car coming to a stop and all three exiting with Suzan stabbing Jon while he and Michael struggled over a gun.

Michael got control of the gun and shot Jon dead at point-blank range on the side of a busy U.S. 101 and in view of passing motorists, one of whom contacted police. A high-speed chase ensued as the Carsons attempted to flee police in Jon’s car, but they were both apprehended following a crash.

The Carsons called a press conference to confess to the murders of Jon, Clark, and Keryn. During the five-hour presser with KGO-TV, the San Francisco Chronicle, and homicide investigators, the Carsons claimed to be pacifists and vegetarian-yoga practitioners who converted to a form of Islam, and described themselves as “vegetarian Moslem warriors.” Michael described Suzan as “a yogi and a mystic with knowledge of past, present and future events.”

The Carsons expressed no remorse, explaining that they put Keryn to death for her transgressions of pretending to convert to Islam and “draining [Suzan] of her health and yogic powers.” Michael added that they knew the murder was necessary because, during a rainstorm, “Each time Suzan said it [that Keryn Barnes should be killed] the thunder would clap.”

Carson said he took a pan off the kitchen stove and hit Keryn over the head “as hard as I could, three times.” When she continued to make slight sounds, he stabbed her in the neck with a small paring knife, which he later buried along the roadside.

The couple went on to say that their ‘second victim,” Clark had sexually attacked Suzan, and that their final victim, Jon had called her a “witch” and sexually abused her as well. Shortly before their trial began, the pair withdrew their confessions, entering pleas of not guilty.

On June 12, 1984, a jury convicted the Carsons of Keryn’s murder, with a sentence of twenty-five years in prison. Later, they found themselves convicted of the murders of Clark and Jon, and for which they received sentences of fifty years to life and seventy-five years to life.

In 1989, the First District Court of Appeal, affirmed their third conviction as it had previously done on the other two convictions. Yet, 26-years later the Carsons became eligible for parole after a federal court ruling forced prison officials to consider them for parole due to prison overcrowding.

Fortunately, Suzan lost her bid and Michael canceled his hearing. Officials say they expect both receive another shot at parole in 2020.

In total, investigators suspect the Carsons in anywhere from nine to 12 murders, both in the western U.S. and in Europe. Meanwhile, James Carson remains incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California, while Suzan is behind bars at Central California Women’s Facility, near Chowchilla, also in California.

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The Cure for Stupidity

It was a sunny day and very warm by the time I stepped outside. I wandered over to the chow hall and had some breakfast, and then strolled out to the small pool near the barracks.

Before I sat down in one of the lounge chairs under the awning, I stripped off my jeans revealing I was wearing a Speedo swimsuit. I splashed around for a few minutes, then returned to the chair, where I dozed off.

Soon the pool area filled with other young men and women enjoying the heat of the late morning sunshine. The noise from their playing in the pool woke me up.

“Here, have a beer,” Bass said as he handed me a brown bottle of ‘Lone Star.’

Without saying anything, I accepted the brew, hoisting it to my lips. It tasted good going down and added to my feeling of relaxation.

That beer was quickly followed by another and then another. Soon I lost count of the number of beers I had consumed and I was feeling no pain.

Someone asked, “Hey, Darby, do you think you can jump from there into the water?”

They were pointing towards the roof of our three-story barracks.

“Yeah,” I responded.

My words came out slurred, though I couldn’t tell it. Without saying anything else, I went around to the side of the barracks and started up the steps.

Once on the third floor landing, I climbed onto the roof. Walking out to the edge of the roof, I peered down into the swimming pool.

I estimated it to be about twenty feet, a distance I knew could easily jump.

Seconds later, I launched myself out over the swimming pool. By this time, everyone was out of the water, watching me.

Upon entering the water, I pulled my legs up towards my chest to keep from bottoming out. As I surfaced, I could hear everyone around me laughing, cheering and clapping.

However I knew something wasn’t right. Like a jolt of electricity, a severe pain shot throughout my body and I had a sickening wish to vomit as I dog-paddled to the edge of the pool.

Not only was I sober, I was also very slow to climb out of the water. As I did, a hush covered the spectators and one of the woman gasped loudly.

I looked at the faces of those around me, seeing the horror in their eyes.

“What’s wrong?” I thought.

Then I looked down and saw what everyone else was seeing. The sight left me reeling.

Both of my gonads were swollen a bluish-purple color as they hung outside my swimwear. They looked to be the size of tennis balls and the sight caused me to actually throw-up.

Immediately, several of the guys, lifted me off the ground and we headed for the base infirmary for treatment. The doctors on duty all said the same thing: my injury was nothing a little ice and a couple of days of rest wouldn’t heal.

“Never again,” I said, “will I jump from something unless it’s to save a life.”

One of the doctors added, “Good, because there’s nothing anyone can do to cure stupidity.”

Murder in Orlando is Death to Us All

While I understand the sentiment, I don’t understand the point of shutting off the lights of the Reno Arch tonight in honor of the victims of the Orlando mass shooting. And while I agree with Mayor Hillary Schieve, who states on her official FB page, “It is more important than ever that the LGBTQ community knows that they have the love and support of the Biggest Little City knows that they have the love and support of the Biggest Little City,” such activity does not throw light on the real problem.

This is but another way to “bury our heads in the sand” and ignore the truest of facts: that the U.S. has a real problem — an evil plague known as radical Islamic terrorism. We need to start calling it by its real name!

Finally, we cannot secure the safety of a small fragment of our society if we stay unwilling to protect the safety of our entire society. This is what is wrong with our nation today, we’ve been fragmented to the point that we seem not to care even one iota for our brothers and sisters with whom me may disagree.

It is time for Americans of all stripes to take back our common society, our moral virtues and our country.

Those of the LGTBQ persuasion must realize by now that it isn’t your average ‘Christian, Conservative, Caucasian’ male that’s bent on destroying their lives. Rather it is the very people who ‘claim’ they are trying to protect you from us – the Progressive.

It is the Progressive who refuses to use the words ‘Radical Islamic Terrorist,’ or even tell the truth when that truth is so plainly laid out before them. Not once have I seen a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, as reprehensible as they are, pick up a fire arm and kill or main another person.

No. It is those who do not believe in our American value of ‘live and let live.’ Rather it is those who’ve let our nation become a ‘third world,’ and those who refuse to acknowledge that a twisted form of religion known as Radical Islam, which espouses hatred and death to any and all peoples who do not follow their ‘ideal of religion,’ is a threat to you and I.

Wake up! Demand your God-given right to personal security and not simply state-sponsored security.

And any man or woman who ‘picks-up’ the mantle of ‘humanitarian’ had best care for more than one ‘type’ of human. Otherwise that so-call ‘humanitarian’ is nothing more than an ‘activist.’

It is the ‘activist,’ such as the one we have in the White House, who has created social-unrest, dividing us, pitting us one against the other. Such acts, such rhetoric, such sickening action must be called out and halted in its tracks publicly.

Now is not the time to be faint of heart! We must find ourselves willing to stand shoulder to shoulder and to push back against this egregious wrong that is destroying our nation.

Lastly, I am calling on those in the media – especially the local media, my local media – to toss out that Progressive playbook known as the Associated Press Handbook on how to ‘accurately’ write and deliver the news. Simple words, common words, truthful words are far better and less deadly than the garbage that you’re forced to spew out because there is no one researching and rewrite what comes off the Internet.

“The Fourth Estate,” as Edmund Burke labeled the press, was at one time positioned to battle federal overreach and to provide correct, prompt and beneficial information to the community it served. Search yourselves; find the strength to provide that information once again in a direct and honest way and quit wasting your time plying ‘politically correct’ language to your livelihood and our lives.

The terror attack in Orlando should be a wake up call. We must take corrective action now or face more terror like this in our future.

Steven M. Smith, 1946-2017

“No, you never get used to it,” I told a friend as I learned yet again of another friend’s passing.

Steven M. Smith (known as ‘Smith in the Morning,’) and I worked together a couple of different times during my radio broadcast career. The first came after I shortly after I moved to Reno, Nevada and landed a gig at KONE, then later doing overnights on KOZZ.

Wet-behind-the-ears, I was still trying to gain a foothold on exactly who I was on-air. Many times you’ll hear the advice, “Jus’ be yourself,” which sounds so easy, but is actually one of the hardest things to attain.

It was Steve, who during the production of an automobile commercial that I was an extra voice on, gave me the best advice an inexperienced disc jockey could get. After the umpteenth take, he stopped and ‘politely’ said, “Damn it, Tom, jus’ talk to me!”

Then he went on to explain that I was sounding more like an announcer than a guy who was simply walking onto a car lot to look at or purchase a vehicle. His instruction was so easy to follow and it helped me finally ‘find my voice’ in radio.

Steve, I learned while doing the overnight shift which lead into his morning drive shift, was not only a consummate professional and smart-ass, but also one the most intelligent personality-radio jocks you could ever work. He read any and all materials he could get his hands on and had the ability to memorize much of it and could recite it once needed.

Often I’d come into the computer room and see him tapping out some drumbeat on his pad, while perusing the Internet. He made it a point to know what was happening in the world and he managed morning after morning to weave that new-found knowledge into listener’s lives and to do it so successfully that it few ever realized that they weren’t really having a ‘two-way conversation.

One more thing before getting to Steve’s stats: he’d be embarrassed by this posting, as he’d think it was too much. He’s the only radio personality that I know of who did his best to stay out of the spotlight unless the job required it.

Steve passed away on June 3, 2017 at the age of 70. Born and raised in Whittier, California on August 30, 1946, he graduated from California High School in Whittier in 1964 and later attended Western State College of Law at Argosy University in Fullerton, California.

He was part of the mid 70’s ‘legendary day’s’ of KDES in Palm Springs, California and inducted into the Nevada Broadcast Hall of Fame in 1999. Steve leaves behind his kids, Matt, Kelsey and Casey.

Sunday Morning Sidewalk

He rolled over, blinking the sleep from his eyes. It was Greer Valles’ three-month birthday, sober for 90 days, a first for the 68-year-old man in nearly four-and-a-half decades.

Gritting, he willed his aching body from the mattress and gently placed both feet on the chilly floor. Greer smiled, knowing that his sobriety had earned him the opportunity to step outside the compound of the men’s shelter for the first time since the Veteran’s Administration had found him benefits and placed him here.

Though nervous, he could hardly wait to see what the day would bring, but first he had to get showered and dressed. He knew that both were important to his program and he rather enjoyed the discipline he’d long ago left behind.

“I need to do laundry, later,” he thought as he dug through his dirty cloths hamper for a decent shirt to wear. As he did this, he also thought about the line, ‘my cleanest dirty shirt,’ from a song made popular by Johnny Cash.

That thought crashed into the memory of how it had been popular with the guys when he was in Vietnam. He was still ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ when he landed in-country and found himself at Hue City, killing people he had no ill-will towards.

That slipped into the memory of how he came to be in the mess he had found himself in the years since the war had ended. It was a memory he knew he’d be best to avoid as it would turn him sour — and today was no a day for bad moods.

“Ninety-days,” he said aloud as he looked into the eyes of the face that stared back at him from the mirror above the sink. It had been a few years since he’d actually looked at his image in a mirror and it shocked him to find that he was now an old man, gray-haired, bearded and wrinkled.

As required, the old Grunt made his way into the main hall to attend the morning’s first scheduled AA meeting. It was there, after pouring his second cup of coffee and eating another glazed doughnut, that Greer was awarded his ‘90-day chip,’ an aluminum slug that reminded him of the Marine Corps challenge coins he used to collect.

Those, like much of his life, had been lost as he proceeded to burn himself to the ground in an ever-increasing pool of hard liquor and roll-your-own cigarettes. Though he refused to think on it, his mind did play the movie of his life, from getting married to the birth of his two daughters and how he’d had a hard time holding down a job and then the day that his wife took his two prized possessions and walk out of his life for good.

He tried to stay in touch with the girls, now adults, married and with children of their own, his grand-babies, but they refused him.  And often times, as he drank himself into a stupor, he came to the conclusion that the lost connection was because he hadn’t been a good father or husband when they were little.

Thumbing the coin in his hand, Greer walked to the front office and scratched his name across the paper on the clip board that would lead to a day of ‘Liberty.’ Joe, whose job it was to sign people in and out, politely reminded him, “Remember Mr. Valles, the door’s locked at 7 pm sharp and if you’re late you won’t be allowed in.”

“Got it,” Greer replied as he slipping outside and onto the front porch.

“I wonder if this is what a house-bound cat feels like?” he wondered, as if imagining he had secretly sneaked outside to chase a bird or climb a nearby tree.

For the last month he’d been working on making amends to some of the people he hurt. Greer decided that he should go see the woman who owned the little market on the corner.

He’d been arrested for stealing a bottle of 20/20 from her and that is how he came to be in the program and living in the half-way home. She didn’t recognize him when he strode through the door. It took him telling her what he had done for her to even begin to see the former drunk as he had been.

He offered her his apology and a twenty-dollar bill to make up for his theft. Smiling and happy to see the change in the older man, she told him, “No, you keep the money or put it in the offering box the next time you pass a church.”

He agreed, shaking her hand and leaving. For the first time in ages the weight of guilt, or was it shame, melted from his body and even though she hadn’t actually said she forgave him, he realized that saying sorry wasn’t as painful as he had supposed it to be.

As he continued down the sidewalk, the light-bulb came on in his head, “Church!”

He hadn’t been to church since he was first married.

Raised Catholic, Greer had been an alter-boy from shortly after his first communion through his senior year of high school. He was known as a good boy back then and was even looked up to by some the younger kids.

But that was before he enlisted in the Marines. What he had thought was something that would merely place his life on hold for a while, instead changed what life came afterwards.

He didn’t know the name of the church when he opened the door and slipped inside. Out of habit he dipped his finger-tips in the fount of Holy Water and crossed himself as if he’d never strayed from the faith.

Taking a seat in a back pew, Greer Valles listened and recognized what had once been a large part of his boyhood and he relaxed. It felt so comforting that he drifted into a half-sleep, head bobbing backwards and forwards, allowing himself to remember lengthy liturgies of his childhood.

As he dozed, he became aware of something trying to climb into his lap. Half asleep, he first though it might be a cat, but when he opened his eyes and looked down, it was a little boy, perhaps three-years old.

He looked around and saw a woman look at him. Her eyes were wide with fright from the idea of a stranger picking her son up and placing him in his lap.

She got up and crossed the aisle, “I’m so sorry, Mister,” she apologized, lipping the words.

“No problem,” Greer replied in the same form, adding “He’s fine.”

She moved in front of the old man, sitting down beside him. The three sat quietly, the little boy snuggling in Greer Valles lap.

Eventually, he felt the boy’s breathing become rhythmic and he knew the child had gone to sleep, which in turn caused the already drowsy Greer to doze off again. Before he knew it the mother was gently tapping him on the shoulder and taking the still asleep boy from his arms.

“He’s usually afraid of strangers,” she stated

“Well, I’m glad he warmed up to this stranger,” Greer smiled.

“Maybe you remind him of his grandpa,” the woman commented, “though he’s never met either one of them.”

The words stabbed Greer in the heart and to hide the pain he quipped, “Or maybe Santa Claus.”

The mother laughed as she stood and edged past Greer. She turned, looked down, smiling, “Thank you for your kindness and for giving me a break. He’s usually such a wiggle-worm and into everything.”

“Happy to help,” Greer responded as cheerfully as his breaking heart could muster.

He sat there for the next couple of minutes, feeling the sadness spread throughout his entire body. Finally, with a heaving sigh he stood up and walked out the still-open double doorway of church and as Greer Valles stood on the sidewalk that Sunday morning, he knew he wouldn’t make it back in time for curfew.

There, across the street, a bar.