The Zebra Killers
A Shocking Crime
Richard Hague, 30, and Quita, 28, had been married for seven years. Richard was a mining engineer who worked for a local office of the Utah International Company. Quita was a reporter for the Industrial City Press in South San Francisco.
On October 19, they ate supper at their home on 399 Chestnut Street in Telegraph Hill, and decided to go for a stroll. They held hands as they walked. Ahead of them, they noticed two young black men stationed on either side of the sidewalk. As the couple passed between them, one of the men reached out and grabbed Richard's arm.
Quita bolted downhill, but the man drew a gun and pointed it at Richard's chest, threatening to kill him if Quita didn't return, Howard writes. Her husband urged her to cooperate. Reluctantly, she did so, in what was arguably the couple's worst mistake of the night — it's unlikely the men would have killed Richard if Quita had fled, because she would have been able to describe them to the police.
The men ordered the couple into a white cargo van, making them lie facedown on furniture pads stacked in the back. Their hands were tied behind their backs with twine. They were almost rescued. Officers in a passing patrol car sensed something amiss and pulled up next to the van. One of them rolled down a window and asked the men if everything was okay.
"Everything's fine, officer," the driver responded politely. "We had to fix a flat." The men were well-dressed and looked the officers in straight in the eye without flinching, Howard writes. They didn't seem to be doing anything illegal, so the policemen drove on.
As the van drove down the freeway, one of men snaked a hand up Quita's sweatshirt, Howard writes. Next to her, her husband protested, and one of the men hit him in the face with a lug wrench, breaking his jaw in two places.
The van drove into the warehouse district of San Francisco and cruised to a stop alongside the railroad tracks. One of the men pulled Quita from the van, carrying a 16-inch machete in his other hand. He dragged Quita to the tracks, and as she begged for her life, he slammed the blade down on her neck, over and over again.
Richard miraculously survived his machete assault and managed to stagger into the street, where the professor and his wife found him, stunned and mutilated beyond belief.