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Who Killed the Kennedys? (and Sal Mineo?)


Sal Mineo was stabbed to death in the parking garage beneath his apartment complex just below Sunset Strip in West Hollywood on February 12, 1976, a building then owned by divorce attorney Marvin Mitchelson. There was no evidence of a robbery but a great deal of speculation concerning motive. West Hollywood has a sizable gay population. Newsweek reported after the actor's murder that "long-whispered reports of the actor's alleged bisexuality and fondness for sadomasochistic ritual quickly surrounded his murder." [1]  The press reveled in Mineo's rumored secret life. Local gay papers were rife with claims of sadomasochistic sex and satanism. [2] Fear ripped through the homosexual community. Gay bars in Los Angeles closed and many a Hollywood star took refuge behind locked doors.

The former teen idol had signed on, according to friends, to play Sirhan Sirhan in a film about the murder of Robert F. Kennedy -- in  it, CIA assassination and post-hypnotic programming were to be prominently-featured themes. Mineo and a friend, Elliot Mintz -- then a talk show host for the local ABC affiliate, later Bob Dylan's publicist and spokesman for John Lennon and Yoko Ono -- had "buried themselves in research, asking questions everywhere about the [Robert Kennedy] killing." The more they learned, "the more convinced they became that Sirhan was innocent. [3] But the producer had disagreed with that interpretation and Mineo pulled out of the picture." [4]

Mineo felt an affinity with the Kennedys. "You know what day they killed me? The same day as Kennedy -- November 12." On this day in motion picture history, Mineo was in Monument Valley for the making of John Ford's Cheyenne Autumn. "Ricardo Montalban shoots me," Mineo told friends at a party a year later. "I fall down. Ford says, 'That's swell,' and they do something else. A couple of hours later we hear the President's been murdered and Ford calls a wrap for the rest of the day. Somebody else figured out that at the same time Ricardo was shooting me, Oswald was shooting Kennedy." [5]


Facts emerged in his research concealed by the LAPD's "Special Unit Senator" (SUS), a CIA-linked police cadre assigned to an "investigation" of the shooting directed by Lieutenant Manuel Pena. On November 13, 1967 -- seven months  before the RFK murder -- the San Fernando Valley Times ran a brief on Lt. Pena's retirement from the Los Angeles police force. A testimonial dinner was held for him at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Encino, "a rousing and emotion-packed affair." Pena, we learn, "retired from the police force to advance his career. He has accepted a position with the Agency for International  Development (AID) Office of the State Department" (a common front for CIA operations overseas). Pena hired on to AID as a "public safety advisor" to train foreign police forces. "After nine weeks of training and orientation, he will be assigned to his post, possibly a Latin American country, judging by the fact that he  speaks Spanish fluently," the Times reported.

One month before the Robert Kennedy assassination, Pena returned to the LAPD and directed the SUS investigation away from the CIA and Mafia toward Sirhan, a feat that required mass destruction of evidence, the seizure of photos of the killing, much eyewitness badgering, attempts on the lives of forensic specialists (William H. Harper identified the second gun drawn in Kennedy's assassination only to be shot at himself the day before he was to testify) and other "clean-up" operations.

Pena's colleagues in the SUS unit were a curious lot, as Lisa Pease, a reporter for Probe, discovered in her own examination of  he case:

SUS members predominantly came from military backgrounds. Charles Higbie, who controlled a good portion of the investigation, had been in the Marine Corps for five years and in Intelligence in the Marine Corp. Reserve for eight more. Frank Patchett, the man who turned the Kennedy "head bullet" over to DeWayne Wolfer after it had taken a trip to Washington with an FBI man, had spent four years in the Navy, where his specialty was cryptography.

The Navy and Marines figured prominently in the background of a good many of the SUS investigators. The editor of the SUS Final Report, however, had spent eight years of active duty with the Air Force, as a Squadron Commander and Electronics Officer.

Two SUS members were in a unique position within the LAPD to control the investigation and the determination of witness credibility.  Manuel Pena and Hank Hernandez. Pena had quite the catbird seat.  A chart from the LAPD shows that all investigations were funneled through a process whereby all reports came at some point to him. He then had the sole authority for "approving" the interviews, and for deciding whether or not to do a further interview with each and every witness.

In a similarly powerful position, Sgt Enrique "Hank" Hernandez was the sole polygraph operator for the SUS unit. In other words, whether a witness was lying or telling the truth was left to the sole discretion of Hernandez.

Pena's brother told the TV newsman Stan Bohrman that Manny was proud of his service to the CIA. Pena had gone to a "special training unit" of the CIA's in Virginia. On some assignments Pena worked with Dan Mitrione, the CIA man assassinated by rebels in Uruguay for his role in teaching torture to the police forces there. [6]

No mention of hypnosis or behavior modification appears in the official report, but Michael Ruppert, a former LAPD officer who left the department to expose his CIA trainers, speaks of it. "Sirhan Sirhan was hypno-programmed using hypnosis, drugs and torture by, among others, the Reverend Jerry Owen and CIA mind-control specialist William Bryan at a stable where he worked months before the shooting. Also working there at the same time was Thomas Bremer, the brother of Arthur Bremer, who in 1972 shot Presidential contender George Wallace." [7] Arthur Bremer's sister, Gail Aiken, was nearly called by the prosecution to testify in the trial of Sirhan -- that  is, defense attorney Mike Wayland informed the judge that he intended to grill the witness on the stand -- but she briskly left town. [8]  "Ask yourself what you believe about the existence of democracy in this country," Ruppert suggests, "and what you believe about the fate of ANY Presidential candidate not sanctioned by the powers that be before the 'race' is run."

Did the LAPD's concealment of evidence implicating the CIA in the shooting at the Ambassador Hotel in 1968 extend to the murder of Sal Mineo eight years later? For evidence linking the murders, look to Robert Duke Hall -- a private investigator who tailed Mineo on the day of his death [9] -- but pack a Kevlar vest.

The subterranean channels of the intelligence world swarmed with crooks and killers. When agents veered over the top and into the headlines, they were sometimes shown the door by the CIA, and many entered the private investigations business. This is the industry that belched forth the late Robert Hall, Robert Vesco's security chief and a security contractor for Howard Hughes (who died on April 6, 1976, a few months before Hall himself was found dead).  Jim  Hougan, an investigative reporter and former editor of Harpers, describes the Burbank private investigator as a "sleaze," a pathological lowlife, "decidedly larcenous. a father, a wire-tapper, an informer, a dope peddler and a double agent." [10] He was also a gun toting paranoiac, nagged by the perennial belief that someone wanted him dead.

The late Bobby Hall loved his work, but a Jewish pornographer and drug dealer from Shanghai ended all that. Hall was obsessed with intrigue, and, notes Hougan, "unchecked intrigue can certainly get even the most seasoned investigator into situations that quickly become questionable." Hall blackmailed Robert Vesco and was involved in a burglary at Summa Corporation, the inner sanctum of the Howard Hughes empire.

He believed that fugitive financier Vesco wanted him dead, but there were scores of LA fixers, trigger-men and covert operators, each nursing a grudge, who would have happily disposed of him.  Prominent among Angelenos harboring homicidal feelings toward Hall count those hooked on his famous "Happy Shots," potent methamphetamine mixed with vitamin B-12. LA. prosecutors suspected that the corrupt private investigator was blackmailing these clients and many others.

So it came as a complete surprise to no one when, on July 22, 1976, six months after Sal Mineo was murdered, Hall himself was gunned down. Hall's body was discovered on the floor of his kitchen.  A .38 slug had penetrated the back of his skull. Jack Ginsburgs, a Jewish pornographer with well-documented connections to corrupt LA. police officials, was convicted for the murder.

Local and federal law enforcement agencies, the Los Angeles Times reported, were "scrutinizing Hall's dealings with a number of present and former police officers to determine if his death was linked to one such relationship." Few in his orbit had a kind word for his eulogy, but "even his most ardent detractors are vocal in praise of his talents for wire- tapping and electronic eavesdropping." [11]

Police searched Hall's house for clues to his murder. Instead, they stumbled upon Ian Fleming's techno-dreams: several cases of electronic bugging and debugging equipment, a tranquilizer dart gun, drug-tipped darts, tear-gas canisters, syringes, ampules of narcotics, lock-picking devices, and cartons filled with more than two-hundred audio tapes, an  archive of corruption implicating powerful politicians and popular celebrities in drug trafficking, prostitution, blackmail and all varieties of criminal and political shenanigans. Some of Hall's best friends were interviewed by police -- among them crooner Eddie Fisher.

Hall had once been retained by the managers of seven rock bands to investigate physicians who'd slipped their clients fraudulent prescriptions, mega-potency drugs that altered their personalities, sabotaged public appearances, and hampered their lives and music. Hall reported back that two doctors and a dentist had prescribed the pharmaceuticals. This information was turned over to the authorities. No action was taken. [12]

Hall was gunned down shortly thereafter. The homicide investigation turned up tapes of bugged conversations recorded by Robert Hall. Captain Jack Egger of the Beverly Hills Police Department abruptly resigned, citing "health" reasons, his underworld connections caught on the 300 tapes confiscated from LA. stockbroker and gunrunner Thomas P. Richardson, a crony of Hall's convicted to a six-year prison term for stealing millions from a long list of banks, brokerage houses and Ivy League college funds. [13] 

Egger's sudden departure from the Beverly Hills police force, the Los Angeles Times noted, "was precipitated by Burbank detectives playing selected tape recordings [from Hall's collection] for Beverly Hills Police Chief Edward Kreina." [14]

The press linked the detective to Washington politicians, famed Hollywood celebs embroiled in corrosive drug and sex scandals, cocaine traffic from LA to Malibu, international sporting events, and the LAPD. It was George Yocham, a former police lieutenant, retired, chairman of the Police Science Department at LA. Valley College, and Robert Hall himself who had given the five-shot, .38 Caliber Centennial Special used in his murder to alleged triggerman Jack Ginsberg, alias Jack Ginsburgs. [15] Yocham was employed as a private detective for Hall's agency after leaving the Beverly Hills Police Department in 1971, after 25 years of service.

Ginsburgs was Hall's business partner and a consultant to Richardson. Also a pornographer with connections to organized crime, the proprietor of XXX, Inc. on Prairie Street in Chatsworth, California. Hougan: "The son of a White Russian emigre, he'd spent his youth inside the decadent Shanghai Bund -- that romantic foreign colony which [was] a meld of opium, kinky sex and intrigue." The transcript of Richardson's trial reveals that Captain Egger enlisted Ginsburgs as a police informant. He also made Hall a "double agent" in the Richardson stock fraud case. Gene LeBell, the famed ex-  wrestler, karate expert and Hollywood stunt man, was charged in Hall's murder as well. LeBell is well-known in any gymnasium, the son of Aileen Eaton, the famed Olympic Auditorium boxing promoter. It was Eaton who refereed the bout between heavyweight pugilist Muhammed Ali and martial arts star Antonio Inoki. [16]

Lebell was a third partner in Hall's private detective firm, and owned a pharmacy in Hollywood -- the same pharmacy that distributed tainted drugs to rock musicians -- and Hall had blown the whistle. [17] Tommy Richardson, Hall's partner and Robert Vesco's pimp (he once reportedly flew Elizabeth "The Hollywood Madam" Adams and a plane loaded with prostitutes to Costa Rica to service the fugitive), told LAPD Detective Richard Schmidt that he believed Jack Ginsburgs "may have killed Hall because of Hall's activities against Ginsburgs," [18] turning evidence on the poisoned prescriptions and other criminal enterprises.

The Hall slaying was not the only bullet-perforated door that led to the suites of corrupt public servants and wealthy military-industrialists. L.A.'s "premiere gangster," gambling czar Mickey Cohen, was a friend of Sal Mineo's, or so the mobster claimed, and possibly the critical link to the killing of Robert Kennedy. Cohen was moved to contact the press immediately after the murder of Mineo to reminisce about his "old friend," and his appearance in news reports of the  slaying was morbidly incongruous, because the former hit-man had no place in the story except to boast, "Sal was my pal." Unlike the average "former" underworld figure, he enjoyed the spotlight and maintained amiable relations with the press. But there was a whiff of mordant irony in this impromptu appearance in the very first Los Angeles Times report on Sal Mineo's murder. They met when the actor was in his 20s, Cohen boasted to the Times. Well ... they weren't  exactly "close" friends, he conceded, but still "friends." The actor/singer once frequented a Brentwood ice-cream shop, The Carousel, owned by Cohen's sister, a thriving mob hangout in the mid-'50s until Cohen took a sabbatical to McNeil Island Penitentiary. [19] The Mafioso and the actor remained friendly till the day Mineo was cut down in a dark carport. [20] 

Cohen was chummy with Nixon and his entourage. In 1968, Cohen, then imprisoned, said that Mob attorney Murray Chotiner had solicited campaign contributions from him on behalf of Richard Nixon. In 1970, Chotiner was appointed to the office of Nixon's special counsel. A year later, in private practice, he lobbied for a prison pardon on behalf of Teamster heavy Jimmy Hoffa. [21]

Cohen was the undisputed godfather of all West Coast Mafia gambling operations, a Meyer Lansky lieutenant. The gangster's sub rosa political exploits were the topic of his confessions in July 1975, at UCLA Medical Center, where he lay convalescing. One of these, heard only by investigative reporter Chuck Ashman, concerned Cohen's contribution to the rapturous rise of arch-conservative evangelist Billy Graham, President Nixon's celebrated "spiritual advisor."

Mickey and I had met several times, but it wasn't until his last illness that he really began to open up. He said he had one final Big One that he had been saving for the end.

When he told me the tale of his being paid off to fake a dose of Christianity for Billy Graham's early New York Crusade, I didn't take it all that seriously. Then I started checking -- and I found enough  documentation from federal investigators, tax agents, prosecutors and Mickey's pals, together with a Graham defector, to piece the story together. It was true! Two of Billy Graham's key disciples had passed more than $10,000 to Mickey and his family in exchange for his staged "conversion" to Christ for the benefit of the first official Billy Graham Crusade in New York City 20 years ago. We found the dates and amounts and even the checks. [22]

The former pugilist and trigger-man's numerous links to the Nixon circle were cast immediately after WWII. In 1946, Nixon made his first bid for Congress. Chotiner, then a defense attorney for mobsters, managed the Nixon campaign with the backing of Mickey Cohen, who contributed $5,000 from his own pocket to the California Republican's first congressional campaign. When Nixon ran for the Senate, Cohen kicked in $75,000 gathered from Las Vegas mobsters.  Thus began the long and mutually-enhancing partnership of Nixon's political mob and the Mob, [23] and the merger would prove fatal to two Kennedy brothers.

Mickey Cohen was the first bridge linking the killers of Robert Kennedy and Sal Mineo. And much more. The gangster was on friendly terms with Carlos Marcello, the mob boss who ran with David Ferrie -- one of the corrupt CIA operatives investigated by New Orleans prosecutor Jim Garrison in connection with the killing of JFK -- in drug smuggling, the illicit import-export arms trade, and other underworld activities. Cohen was also Jack Ruby's chum.  Cohen and Ruby were both fixated on a local stripper, Ms. "Candy Bar," an ex-convict, and shared her sexual favors. "Ruby often boasted of his friendship with the legendary Mickey Cohen," mob investigator John Davis notes, "and took pride in the fact that he had an affair with a woman who had been engaged to the Los Angeles mobster. That Robert Kennedy was shot in a city whose underworld was dominated by a friend of Carlos Marcello and Jack Ruby has to be regarded as potentially significant" [24] Marcello and Cohen had an enduring friendship that began in 1959, when they were both hauled before the McClellan Committee hearings on organized crime to face the interrogations of an openly contemptuous Robert Kennedy.  As attorney general, Kennedy singled Cohen out as the principal target of his organized crime probe and concentrated his prosecutorial flame-throwing talents on the LA. Mafioso.

Cohen was also a friend of Melvin Belli, Jack Ruby's defense attorney. Cherita Cutting, a researcher specializing in JFK murder minutiae, reports that Belli "once played a practical joke on a conference of tax lawyers. Belli, the featured speaker, introduced to the crowd a man with a phony name who Belli claimed was an expert on reducing your taxes. It turned out to be Mickey Cohen, who didn't pay taxes because the government couldn't prove he earned money."

Cohen dominated the West Coast rackets by 1968, the year of Robert Kennedy's death. He also controlled the Santa Anita racetrack, where Sirhan was employed as a groom and exercise boy. [25]

Cohen had close business connections to the Ambassador Hotel for many years. But one of the most damning indictments against him was his tie to Thane Eugene Cesar -- in the opinion of most impartial and independent investigators, the unindicted killer of Robert Kennedy, a security guard from Lockheed with a security clearance and a registered .22 caliber firearm of the type used in the assassination -- through a close mutual friend of both, John Alessio, the shah of gambling operations in San Diego. [26]

Mickey Cohen's circle of friends, his presence among the super-partiot cadres of Kennedy's enemies, and that peculiar appearance in the limelight immediately after the Mineo killing, beg more questions about Hollywood power brokers than they put to rest.

They go on.

Sirhan, while tending horses at Santa Anita, had been befriended by horse trainer "Frank Donneroumas," an alias for Henry Ramistella, fugitive small-time gangster from New Jersey. Ramistella, Sirhan and Cohen were all close to Hollywood producer and anti-Castro Cuban exile leader Desi Arnaz. [27] (In 1966, Sirhan scrawled in his notebook that he had landed a job at Corona Breeding Farm, co-owned by Arnaz. Terry Welch, one of Sirhan's co-workers at the race track, told the FBI, "Desi Arnaz, Buddy Ebsen, and Dale Robertson, prominent television personalities, were well acquainted with Sirhan." [28] All  three were ultra-conservatives. "Sol" Sirhan, as he was known in this circle, was also a fierce anti-Communist.)

But the most telling Cohen link to Sirhan was Russell E. Parsons, Sirhan's "defense" attorney. Parsons achieved notoriety as consigliere of  the Cohen gang. [29] The Mob attorney had once written a letter of recommendation for him. Parson's syndicate connections were once dissected by the McClellen committee and its chief counsel, Robert F. Kennedy. Parsons dropped the ball in his "defense" of Sirhan. John Davis writes, "He made no effort to show that Sirhan might have been the tool of someone else and downplayed his association with racetrack gambling." [30] Worse, Parsons never objected to the prosecution's argument that the fatal shot was fired by Sirhan despite a statement from the Los Angeles coroner that the accused was in the wrong position to kill the Senator, who was shot from behind, not from the front where Sirhan stood.

Sirhan was railroaded by his own lawyers. The chief defense counsel in the Robert Kennedy case was Grant Cooper. At the time, Cooper also represented Johnny Rosselli, the mobster and Bay of Pigs veteran, in a card-cheating case and would soon be sentenced to prison himself for perjury for his courtroom performance in that case.  Cooper threw Sirhan's defense by suppressing vital evidence. He never cited the autopsy report that would have cleared his client,  revealing that the shot that killed Kennedy was not fired by Sirhan. 

Nixon had certain tasks to perform best handled by gangland cut-outs. One declassified FBI memo notes that a domestic Nazi leader and rancher in Southern California pledged up to $750,000 to the Mafia for a contract on the life of Robert Kennedy. [31]" Larry Jividen, a former Marine pilot and Justice Department informant who mixed with Nixon's business associates, discovered organized crime with an emphasis on drug smuggling. The word "Rosemark," Jividen reported in a confidential letter to the Justice Department, was a code word used by this clique in reference to "funds contained in the Union Bank of Switzerland and the Investment and Trade Exchange Central Bank in Zurich, Switzerland. Large amounts of money from underworld operations are funneled into these banks (casino skims, narcotics profits, prostitution income, etc)." It was from this account that Howard Hughes -- whose network, a clearinghouse of CIA/Mafia miscreants, comprises the second bridge connecting the Kennedy and Mineo killings -- was loaned the capital to buy TWA in  4 1961, Jividen noted "Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo appear to have been points for gold bullion pickups. During one flight, Donald Nixon was a passenger. My employers claim their influence permeated the highest levels of government." [32]

Howard Hughes, the scheming apparition of corporate power on CIA contract, another secret investor in Nixon's campaign, was never far from this circle of corrupt spies and racketeers. Robert Hall, the wire-tapping extortionist, doubled as a security contractor for the Summa Corporation in Los Angeles at 7020 Romaine Street, the  communications hub of the decaying millionaire's worldwide corporate holdings. Security at Summa was overseen by Vince Kelley, formerly the ranking officer of the LAPD's notorious "Glass House," the intelligence center of the police department, and much more, a nest of domestic spies who infiltrated prisons and leftist political organizations to gather information, disrupt their activities, and in general cripple organized resistance. George Yocham, the former police lieutenant who kicked in the murder weapon used to kill Hall, reported to Kelley, and so did Robert Hall.

It's possible that Sal Mineo, in his homework on the Robert Kennedy murder, learned of Bill Stout, the CBS correspondent, who through then DA John Van De Camp contacted the FBI to inquire about certain fully-annotated Bureau photos the reporter had obtained of the murder scene at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. In the photos of the pantry, unexplained bullet holes appeared. The FBI returned that forensic examiners had not conducted a ballistics investigation of the scene, an answer that did not address the question. A Bureau official assured Stout that he would investigate the matter thoroughly and "get back with him." Stout is still waiting.

Someone else was agitated about the bullet holes in the Ambassador Hotel pantry. In August 1971, criminalist William  Harper narrowly escaped an attempt on his life by a pair of gunmen pecking away at his automobile. The attempt to silence Harper occurred the day before he was to testify before a grand jury investigating ballistics evidence in the RFK assassination. [33] Harper testified in a sworn affidavit that "Senator Kennedy was fired upon from two distinct firing positions while he was walking through the kitchen pantry." Further, "no test bullets recovered from the Sirhan gun are in evidence. The gun was never identified scientifically as having fired any of the bullets removed from any of the victims." The firearm forcibly pried from Sirhan's grip "has not been connected by microscopic examinations or other scientific testing to the actual shooting."

Eight years later ...

Pop music heaven admitted a number of rock celebrities in 1976, including: Mal Evans, 40, the Beatles' road manager, shot dead on January 5; Florence Ballard of the Supremes, 32, dead of "naturalcauses" on February 22; Free's Paul Kossoff, 25, drug overdose, March 19; Duster Bennett, 29, in a March 26 car crash; Phil Ochs, 35, suicide by hanging, April; Keith Relf of the Yardbirds, 33, electrocuted on May 14; Tommy Bolin, 25, of Deep Purple and the James Gang, heroin overdose in December. Flo and Eddie were forced to cancel a tour of America and the UK booked a year in advance after their lead guitarist dropped nine stories from his room at the Salt Lake City Hilton and was killed. On November 9, 1976 San Francisco Chronicle columnist John Austin commented, "The accident has not yet been reported." The police, he observed, were "trying to keep the lid on it." Was the media blackout of the "accidental" fatality related to the death threat that Jim Martin, the band's manager, received a few days earlier?

On February 13, 1976, the front page of the Los Angeles Times teemed with political upheaval. A bomb exploded at the Hearst Castle. A fiercely-delivered denunciation was leveled by a "strained" Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at congressional investigators.  Nixon's ranking foreign policy advisor cursed a newly-released report from the House Intelligence Committee enumerating a litany of CIA abuses. "A vicious lie," he spat. Kissinger soundly excoriated the document, The Pike Report.  It was "flagrant," "a disgrace," a "new version of  McCarthyism" that "can only do damage to the foreign policy of the United States."

The swelling hordes of American conservatism heard, rallied, and dogged Pike into political obscurity for his "vicious lies" about the CIA.

Next to Kissinger's throes, the Times ran the obituary of veteran actor-singer Sal Mineo, stabbed to death in his carport at Hollywood Manor at roughly 9:15 PM. Neighbors heard the cries for help. The body was found by Ray Evans, a neighbor in the complex, a retired actor in the real estate business. "I saw a man in the fetus position, lying on his side," Evans told police. "Because of an incline, blood seemed to be coming from his head. I turned him over and I said, 'Sal, my God,' and I saw his whole chest covered with blood on the left side."

Witnesses gave homicide detectives a partial description. A white man with long brown or blond hair fled the murder scene in a yellow compact. [34]

The autopsy transcript states that Mineo suffered "a massive hemorrhage due to a stab wound to the chest, penetrating the heart." The murder weapon was a "heavy-type knife." There were, officially, no other injuries apparent. This observation clashed head-on with the testimony of eyewitnesses, who reported that Mineo had been stabbed repeatedly. This and other absurd contradictions were tell-tale signs that the fix was in. The name Robert Hall or one of his  associates may have fit the profile, but his name would never surface in the ensuing investigation.

Homicide detectives installed a 24-hour hotline for information about the Mineo murder on February 17, five days after the knife attack. The delay may have sabotaged the entire investigation.

The Hollywood press handled the story with its usual dearth of aplomb. Kimberly Hartman, in an unpublished Mineo biography, recalls, "a powerful battle had begun -- the image of Sal-the-Good-Son vs. Sal-the-Weirdo. Sal-the-Weirdo won out. [The] tabloid journalism did nothing to help the case. Some cops simply labeled it a 'fag killing' like the Navarro case only eight years before, and simply did not want to deal with it. The ones who did care were swamped with easily hundreds of tips, most of them fantasy and speculation." [35] 

Back in Mamaroneck, friends of Mineo's from Hollywood fought with his family at O'Neil Mortuary. "Michael Mason seemed to have been the center of all debates," Hartman recalls. "He claimed that  money was the first thing Sal's family asked about." It didn't occur to Mason that money had weighed heavily on his own mind and others who'd been close to Mineo. A small cabal headed by Mason tried to ostracize the family from the burial.  "Michael Mason told Sal's brother, 'It's too bad you didn't know him well enough to find these answers out for yourself. But I see why he didn't like you or have anything to do with you in recent years.' That statement was a low blow to Sal's family which he had always loved. Mason did not have his facts correct -- he was no better than anyone else in Sal's life." It seemed that even in death, "Sal Mineo was being pulled apart, and  Michael Mason's selfishness fueled the tug-of-war. Sal's family suffered more than anyone can know -- even more than 'friends' like Mason who took advantage of the good-natured actor."

Police still had no murder weapon, no suspects, motive or witnesses.

Mineo's body was flown to Mamaroneck, New York for the funeral at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, with 250 paying respects. Many more stood quietly outside, and some 300 onlookers surged in the street. Sal Mineo was buried on February 17, 1976, at Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.

On the same day the body was flown east, detectives revised their description of the suspect. He was a 20-30 year old white male, dark clothing, roughly 5' 7" to 10' tall, average build, dark hair.

Nearly a year and a half passed before the case was "solved." Burton S. Katz -- a prosecutor in the Manson murders, the district attorney who convicted Bobby Beausoleil and Steve"Clem" Grogan for the slayings of Gary Hinman and Donald "Shorty" Shea -- nailed down a grand jury indictment in the Mineo case in May 1977. [36]  LAPD detectives questioned Theresa Williams, an L.A hooker. As the police told it, Ms. Williams confessed that her husband had returned home on the night Mineo was killed, smeared with blood. He allegedly told her, "I just killed this dude in Hollywood." Police were skeptical at first. They were looking for a white male, and Lionel Ray Williams was African-American. But an examination of his arrest records turned up a fascinating detail. Williams had been arrested on forgery and robbery charges shortly after the Mineo murder, and was already incarcerated in Michigan.

The police claim that Ms. Williams called and freely offered to turn state's evidence against her husband. Mr. Williams responds from prison, "That's all crap. That's not true Police went to her. She had a prostitution case, and [the police] were going to take my kid from her." Williams maintains that continual police harassment drove his wife to attempt suicide. She was pressured "to the point where she put a bullet in her head," Williams said. "She tried to kill herself." [37]

Williams did have one connection to the case. In exchange for clemency, he had offered information about the Mineo case to Michigan police who notified the LAPD -- and by stepping forward with the first break in the investigation, Williams may have become the man who knew too much. He said that Mineo had been murdered "in a dispute with a drug dealer." (Bobby Hall with his amphetamine concession?) Williams was freed, the charges against him dropped with a proviso that he gather more information on the Mineo murder and get back with the Los Angeles homicide detail. [38]

The former pizza delivery man was charged on an LA County grand jury indictment. Williams pled not guilty to ten counts of  robbery, one count of armed robbery -- the latter mysteriously overturned despite the Los Angeles Times report that Williams "was armed  with a gun or knife in all the robberies except one." [39] The 21-year-old pizza delivery man was held on $500,000 bail and ordered to stand trial before Superior Court Judge Edward A. Heinz, Jr.

At trial, Hartman says, defense attorney Mort Herbert called two witnesses to the stand, both of whom claimed to have seen a white man running from the scene. "He produced written accounts from many of Sal Mineo's neighbors who had claimed to have seen a white man running away. He cited that even the police had been looking for a white man. Next, he pointed out the obvious -- Lionel Ray Williams was a black man. Another eyewitness verified that they had seen 'a swarthy white man, perhaps an Italian or a Mexican,' running down the driveway of the apartment building. All in all, Herbert punched many a hole in the prosecution's case."

The DAs office drafted a murder complaint. This was attached to ten complaints of robbery already attributed to Williams. It was a completely circumstantial case, but soon the Sheriff's Department filed a declaration in Beverly Hills Municipal Court claiming that Williams had confessed to fellow inmates. This development was overheard, police claimed, by a bug planted in Williams' cell. But transcripts of the bugging were withheld from the defense and even the judge.

Allwyn Williams (no relation to Lionel), a prison inmate, was the prosecution's star witness, purchased with a plea bargain. He testified: "We came to the discussion that he had killed someone famous.  I wondered who. 'Sal Mineo,' he replied. He started talking about it  He said he was in Hollywood, driving around below Sunset. He was going to rob someone for money." No money was stolen. "He stabbed someone. And he told me how he done it. He demonstrated."

"Allywn Williams," Hartman reports, "under cross-examination, admitted that he made up testimony about Williams driving a Lincoln Continental and using a pearl-handled knife in some attacks because he allegedly felt his statement, which linked Williams to the Sal Mineo murder, was not strong enough to get himself out of jail."  (Allwyn Williams was provided immunity for an LA robbery which he had participated in with the defendant). "Mort Herbert attempted  to show that Allwyn Williams had a motive for testifying against the defendant -- his own fear of going to prison. Herbert also was able to make Allwyn admit that if necessary he would have lied even further to get his felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. The prosecution's key witness also admitted that he had been taking drugs when the defendant supposedly discussed the murder. A following witness for the defense further discounted the prosecution's key witness by claiming that he had never heard L.R. Williams admit to the Mineo murder in the supposed conversation with Allywn  Williams."



1. Dennis Williams and Martin Kashdorf, "The Outcast," Newsweek, February 23, 1976, p. 25.

2. Susan Braudy, Who Killed Sal Mineo?, New York: Wyndham Books, 1982, p. 32 -- a novel based on the case. Mineo's closest friends insist that these reports were exaggerated, that he was drawn to the gay community because he found it exotic. But "Sal had some strange tastes," producer Peter Bogdonovich acknowledged, and "he was totally unaffected by it.  The murder was so shocking because as a person he was so innocent."  But bisexual and innocent are not mutually exclusive qualities. The Hollywood Paparazzi press, most notably Boze Hadleigh, reports that Mineo was bisexual, counting Rock Hudson among his paramours. See Boze Hadleigh, Conversations with My Elders, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987.

3. Elliot Mintz resurfaces in this mortal inventory to witness the unfolding of a covert operation designed to discredit the Beatle and his widow. Mintz was a thorough and highly credible historian of the 1960s, recalls Jim Ladd, a colleague at RADIO KAOS, an underground station in Los Angeles.  "During his ten years in the business, Elliot had logged over two thousand interviews and more than 50,000 telephone calls over the air. He explored the entire gamut of the movement during his time in the glass booth, from Baba Ram Dass to Buffy Sainte-Marie, from Jane Fonda to Jack Nicholson, from Norman Mailer to Abbie Hoffman. A self-taught intellectual, and one of the most well-read humans on the planet, Elliot was the counterculture's answer to William F Buckley." Jim Ladd, Radio Waves: Life After the Revolution on the FM dial, New York: St. Martin's, 1991, p. 187.

4. Hartman. Also, Mae Brussell, "Operation CHAOS" unpublished ms. And, Tim Hunter, "Who Done It," Chic, June 1977, p. 88.

5. Peter Bogdanovich, "The Murder of Sal Mineo," Esquire, March 1, 1978, p. 116.

6. Lisa Pease, "Sirhan and the RFK Assassination, Pt. II -- Rubrick's Cube," Probe, vol. 5, no 4, May-June, 1998.

7. Michael C. Ruppert, Internet posting.

8. William W. Turner and John G. Christian, The Assassination of Robert F Kennedy, New York: Random House, 1978, p. 265.

9. Hunter and Brussell.

10. Jim Hougan, Spooks: The Haunting of America -- The Private Use of Secret Agents, New York: William Morrow, 1978, p. 243.

11. Bill Farr and Bill Hazlett, "Tapes Raise Questions in Detective's Death," Los Angeles Times, September 10, 1976, p. B-1.

12. For the questioning of Eddie Fisher, see Hougan, p. 245. On the pharmacy connection, Mae Brussell, "Operation Chaos," unpublished ms.

13. Farr and Hazlett, p. B-1.

14. Hougan, p. 247.

15. William Farr, "Defense Attorneys in Killing of Detective Ask Access to Files," Los Angeles Times, November 13, 1976, p. A-22.

16. Gene LeBell, a Hollywood actor and stunt man in Hollywood. Among his long list of credits: As Good As It Gets (1997) Dantes Peak (1997), LA  Confidential, CIA II Target Alexa (1994), Darkman (1990), Die Hard 2 (1990) Total Recall (1990), among others.

17. Brussell.

18. Farr and Hazlett, p. B-1.

19. Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, Hollywood Kryptonite: Accident, Suicide, or Cold-Blooded Murder -- The Truth About the Death of TVs Superman,  New York: St. Martin's, 1996, pp. 9.

20. John Kendall, "Motive in Sal Mineo Slaying Baffles Police," Los Angeles Times, February 13, 1976, p. A-3.

21. A.J. Weberman, Coup D'Etat in America Data Base FBI FOIA Request #72, 182 approx 500 pp.; HSCA OCR 11.2.78 Brady.

22. Chuck Ashman, "The Conversion of Mickey Cohen," Chic, Vol. I, no 8. June 1977, p. 56.

23. Hougan, pp. 251-52.

24. John H. Davis, Mafia Kingfish: Carlos Marcello and the Assassination of John F Kennedy, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1989, p. 346.

25. Ibid.

26. Davis, p. 356. In 1968, novice "underground" journalist Lowell Bergman discovered that Alessio had enormous influence in southern California right-wing circles and a possible motive for wanting Robert Kennedy out of the way. Bergman went on to write for 60 Minutes in 1983, but in his youth lived in a commune and wrote for the resident underground newspaper. "What we were trying to do was break the monopoly on information. We tried to approach it from an academic point of view.  Some of us had experience in what was called 'power-structure research.'  What we were looking for was: Who ran San Diego? What we discovered was that the richest guy in town, [financier] C. Arnholt Smith, was in reality in partnership with John Alessio Thesecond-largest landowner, next to the Navy, at that time, was the Teamsters' Central States Pension Fund, which had been called by Robert Kennedy, the attorney general at the time, the 'piggy-bank' for the Mob" [John Freeman, "Lowell Bergman, Television-Radio Writer" (interview), San Diego Union-Tribune, May 26, 1996, p. E-l].

Like Cohen, C. Arnholt Smith and his San Diego business clique made illegal campaign contributions to the Nixon campaign in 1968. Harry D. Steward, the US attorney in San Diego, ran an investigation of the contributions -- and was forced to resign in December, 1974 after the Senate Judiciary Committee charged him with obstructing its probe. One of  Steward's career highlights was the 1970 conviction of Alessio, described by federal officials as the largest case of income-tax evasion at the time. But Alessio received a light sentence, three years in federal prison, and was paroled in two.

27. Davis, p. 352. Also see, John G. Christian and William W. Turner, The Assassination of Robert F Kennedy: A Searching Look At the Conspiracy and Cover  Up. 1968-1978, New York: Random House, 1978, p. 220.

28. Christian and Turner, pp. 220-21.

29. Dan E. Moldea, The Killing of Robert F Kennedy, New York: W.W. Norton, 1995, p. 116.

30. Davis, p. 354.

31. Christian and Turner, p. 320.

32. Hougan, p. 253.

33. Turner and Christian, p. 315. Harper also reported that Sirhan's prosecutors "attempted to establish that the Sirhan gun, and no other, was involved in the assassination. It is a fact, however. that the only gun actually linked scientifically with the shooting is a second gun, not the Sirhan gun."

34. Ellen Hume and Ted Thackrey, Jr., "Sal Mineo Knifed to Death," Los Angeles Times, February 13, 1976, p. A-1.

35. Kimberly Hartman, "Pretty Boys Make Graves," unpublished ms., ch. 20.

36. "Judge Burton S. Katz," press release, Santa Barbara Speaker's Bureau, P,O. Box 30768, Santa Barbara, CA 93130- 0768. Katz went on to be a judge, in which capacity he presided over the murder trial of John Sweeney -- convicted on minor charges of simple assault and voluntary manslaughter for the strangulation murder of actress Dominique Dunne.  He has taught at law schools, police academies, and the California Specialized Training Institute. "Menendez. Simpson. Bobbit. King," boasts the Bureau's release. "Everyone immediately recognizes these  names because of their high-profile cases -- and controversial verdicts."

37. "Sal Mineo," Mysteries and Scandals, El Channel, February 14, 1999.

38. Ibid.

39. Bill Farr, "Mineo Slaying Suspect Charged," Los Angeles Times, May 4, 1978, p. B-8.

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