Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Killer Prophet

Hippie or Madman?

At 1 that day, Frazier was placed in a line-up.   One witness who identified him had seen him driving Mrs. Ohta's station wagon toward Felton on Tuesday morning.  Three others identified Frazier as the person they had seen.  Two others claimed that he'd been driving so erratically that he'd nearly run them off the road.

Car used in getaway
Car used in getaway

John Linley Frazier was arraigned before Municipal Court Judge Donald O. May on October 25 on five counts of murder.   He stood with his hands tightly jammed into his denim coveralls, clearly agitated.  On Frazier's behalf, Deputy Public Defender James Jackson, of Britton and Jackson Law Firm, entered a plea of not guilty, and looked into getting a psychiatric assessment.

The police had lifted fingerprints from the Rolls Royce and from a beer can still intact in the incinerated house, and they were able to match those to Frazier.   They also said they had his fingerprints on a typewriter inside the home.  He was the only person against whom they did have proof, and the local paper printed a statement to the effect that the reports of three young, long-haired people being in the green car had proven to be false.  Yet that reporter also pointed out that the police had not explained the mystery of the three sets of footprints leading from the train tunnel to the river.

Then more information was forthcoming.

A check on the boys' schools revealed that Mrs. Ohta had not picked them up as usual on October 19 and the schools had called Dr. Ohta.   He and Mrs. Cadwallader had left his office at different times to retrieve the boys from their respective schools.  That meant they had arrived at the family home at different times.  The lone gunman theory was beginning to make more sense, especially if Mrs. Ohta had been alone at home when the killer arrived.  With a gun, he could have subdued one person, and then two at a time.

A close friend of Frazier's, who remained anonymous, told reporters that he "seemed like the last person who would do something like that.   He must have played at two different lives."  He talked about Frazier as a reliable auto mechanic and a family man with a wife and 5-year-old child, but said that he'd lately adopted a hippie lifestyle and sometimes talked in ways that made no sense.  "All of a sudden he seemed like just another wired-up hippie."  He wore a strange symbol around his neck on a chain and often went without shoes and even without a last name.  He wanted to be left alone.

Reporters fanned out to ask former school chums about the alleged killer and heard conflicting reports, from "never a problem" to "rebellious" to "tough guy."

Frazier's estranged wife, Dolores, who lived in the area, offered some information to police about his movements during the days before the crime.   She had helped him clean out his shack on Saturday night and he had spent that night with her, leaving on Sunday afternoon with a loaded pistol, a pair of binoculars, and an orange backpack loaded with supplies.  He'd left behind his driver's license and a book on his favorite subject, the Tarot, saying he would not need them any longer.  Dolores also told authorities that the stolen green car had been left in an area where Frazier often went to swim and hike.  DA Chang quickly enlisted her assistance for his case.

The Catalyst continued to receive bomb threats, with notes to the effect that "the only good hippies are dead hippies," so the three men who had given the police the critical information about Frazier issued a statement in the Sentinel in which they expressed the sentiments of the "hip" community.  "We are all citizens of Santa Cruz County, and we are all concerned about what happened here this week, and what might happen if hatred and hostility continue to grow between straights and longhairs - it is foolishness to mistrust each other now."

High-intensity lights were installed around the sheriff's office to protect the prisoner from vigilantes, and the police maintained strict surveillance.    The community tensions were palpable.

Although the authorities were sure they finally had their man, they were puzzled as to why Frazier would have acted as he had.   From reports offered by his acquaintances, he clearly had planned the murders and had targeted October 19 as the date when "big things would be happening."  What was that about?  Why that date?  Why such blatant slaughter?  They tossed around theories, but no one was certain.

In the meantime, as court dates approached, mental health experts were already at work to unlock the secrets of this apparently deranged killer.


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