Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Killer Prophet


Three men from a local hard rock hangout on Front Street known as The Catalyst (which had been threatened several times with a bombing) had conferred with a private investigator after reading the press release and decided to come forward with what they knew.

District attorney Peter Chang met with them during the early morning hours on Thursday, and that same day, October 22, the Sentinel   published the press release with the contents of the note that had been found on Dr. Ohta's car.   It said:

             Halloween . . . 1970

             today world war 3 will begin as brought to you by the people of the free  universe.  From this day forward any one and ?/or company of persons who misuses the natural environment or destroys same will suffer the penalty of death by the people of the free universe.

I and my comrades from this day forth will fight until death or freedom, against anything or anyone who does not support natural life on this planet, materialisum must die or man-kind will.





Those who knew the tarot deck understood, according to Jason Shultz of the Sentinel, that the knights symbolized elemental power.   Schultz quoted "Will Ma of Sacred Grove"—apparently a New Age establishment in Santa Cruz--to the effect that the Knight of Wands represented acting out to transform the world; the Knight of Cups was about acting in a heartfelt manner; the Knight of Pentacles referred to being methodical in one's quest; and the Knight of Swords "represents air and means using intelligence and logic in a cerebral fashion, sometimes combative."

Knight of Wands tarot card
Knight of Wands tarot card

The murder/arson incident appeared to have been planned.

The three men who met with Chang told him that they were acquainted with someone who had expressed sentiments consistent with those in this note.   During hikes, he'd often talked about "ripping off materialists" and he'd seemed rather zealous.  They hadn't taken him seriously, but when they had read the note the evening before, one man reportedly had paled and said, "This is right on."  Yet they were afraid that giving his name would bring his wrath against them, since he was a loner and might not have revealed his ideas to other people.  These informants were also hesitant to turn in a "brother."  Still, they believed they had to do something.  In recent weeks, they said, this man had "dropped a lot of revolutionary talk on our heads."

Finally they gave in.   Their friend's name, they revealed, was John Linley Frazier, 24, a.k.a. John Linley Pascal, and he lived in a shack downhill and not far from the Ohta property.  His mother, Pat Pascal, a rabbit breeder, owned the property and rented out some of the dilapidated buildings there to college students and hippies.  Frazier was a vegetarian who collected guns and did drugs, and whose personality seemed to have changed in recent weeks.  The informants described him as having long blondish hair, a full beard, a short stature, and a medium build.

The last known sighting of Frazier had been on October 14, walking away from the Ohta property.   At that time he'd been wearing a beige straw hat with red, white, and blue hatband, dark trousers and a green coat.  He also had on moccasins, though he often went barefoot. 

John Linley Frazier
John Linley Frazier

The police did not tell the press whether Frazier was one of the three young people sought in connection with the stolen Oldsmobile, although two persons were reportedly found in the search area who did fit that description.   Whatever became of questioning them is unclear.

On Thursday morning, the police went looking for Frazier at his shack off Cornwell Road.  They found that he had rigged a cable-and-plank drawbridge over a steep ravine, to make it difficult for anyone to visit.  He was not at home.   While the outside of the six-by-six-foot shack looked decrepit, inside was carpeted, clean and more presentable.  It was a bare half mile from the Ohta residence, and from his place, Levin and Fox write, it was clear that Frazier could look up through the trees and see the mansion.

Frazier's shack
Frazier's shack

Posting men to wait (two deputies waited there for 20 hours), the police had the suspect in custody by dawn on Friday, October 25.   Apparently he had slipped past them during the night and gone inside to sleep.  As the sun came up, they went in and found him in bed.  He did not resist arrest (although a San Jose reporter wrote erroneously that a gun battle had ensued, with more than a dozen shots fired), and his only words upon being taken into custody were to ask for a glass of water.

Nevertheless, the police had not given up on their suspicion that more than one person had been involved in the massacre.  It seemed unlikely that one lone gunman could have subdued five people, so they were still actively looking for others.


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