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Herbert William MULLIN





Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Mutilation - In Mullin's view, his murders were the only way to prevent another earthquake from destroying California
Number of victims: 11 - 13
Date of murders: 1972 - 1973
Date of arrest: February 13, 1973
Date of birth: April 18, 1947
Victims profile: Lawrence White, 55 / Mary Guilfoyle, 24 / Rev. Henri Tomei, 64 / James Gianera, 24 / Joan Gianera, 23 / Kathleen Prentiss, also known as Kathy Francis, 30 / David Hughes, 9 / Daemon Francis, 4 / Robert Spector, 18 / David Oliker, 18 / Brian Scott Card, 19 / Mark Dreibelbis, 19 / Fred Perez, 72
Method of murder: Beating / Stabbing with knife / Shooting
Location: Santa Cruz, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison in August 1973, with possibility of parole in 2025
photo gallery

Herb Mullin was born on April 18, 1947. Mullin seemed totally normal throughout his childhood. The son of a World War 2 veteran, Mullin was an extremely bright and sensitive boy who was involved in sports and voted "most likely to succeed" in High School. By the age of thirty-six, he was a raging schizophrenic and a prolific Serial Killer.

The summer after his High School graduation, Mullin's close friend Dean Richardson was killed in an auto accident. This seemed to trigger the start of his odd behavior and he soon had built a shrine to his dead friend in his bedroom and began to obsess about reincarnation, religion, and impending natural disasters. Drugs became a big part of Mullin's life and his deteriorating mental state was coaxed along by huge doses of acid. His behavior frightened his family and friends and he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and was institutionalized on and off throughout the remainder of his time as a free man.

Nothing seemed to help however. Mullin complained of hearing voices and adopted many different persona's, re-inventing himself alternately as a yoga disciple, amateur boxer, hippie, and a sombrero-wearing Mexican. The fads never lasted long before he began his odd search for the newest road to peace of mind. He eventually settled on murderer and began his killings on October 13, 1972, near his hometown of Felton, California.

Mullin spotted a homeless man along a quiet stretch of road, pulled over and lifted the hood of his car, feigning car trouble. When the old man offered assistance Mullin bludeoned him to death with a baseball bat. Nobody paid much attention when the man's body was found a few days later.

Next Mullin picked up a young hitchhiker in Santa Cruz named Mary Guilfoyle and stabbed her to death, taking time to slice her body open and pull out her organs. Her body was not discovered until Febrary the next year. Switching gears on November 2 the killer strolled into a Los Gatos Catholic Church and stabbed Father Henri Tomsi dead in the confessional booth.

Mullin shot drug-dealing acquaintance Jim Gianera and his wife dead on January 25, 1973, in the couple's Santa Cruz home. He applied a finishing touch by stabbing their corpses repeatedly before leaving to kill another acquaintance, Kathy Francis, and her two young sons, shooting them dead and again knifing their bodies after death in another case of overkill.

February 10 proved to be an unlucky day for four teenaged boys that Mullin stumbled upon in a wooded state park. The youngsters had set up a campsite and invited Mullin into their large tent after he happened upon them while wandering the woods. He repayed their kindness by slaughtering them with gunfire as they sat trapped inside.

The bodies were discovered inside their blood-soaked tent a week later. By that time Mullin had already killed yet again. On February 13 Fred Perez was working on the driveway of his home when he was shot and killed by the lunatic slayer. A neighbor witnessed Perez' murder and Mullin was arrested a short distance away. His killings were finally over.

The rest of the story was a dizzying display of bizarre behavior by Mullin throughout his time in jail and during his subsequent trial. It was evident during the police interrogation immediately after his arrest when he responded to investigators questions by screaming out "Silence!" and got worse from there. The clean-cut killer claimed he had stopped a disasterous earthquake from striking California when he killed his victims, thus saving countless lives.

He also stated that voices, including his father's, had ordered him to kill and that he had telpathically gained permission from the boys in the tent before dispatching of them. Mullin constantly ranted and spent considerable time jotting his twisted theories down on paper. Some of the highlights occured during his entertaining trial, at the beginning of which he predictably pleaded innocent by reason of insanity.

His lawyer told the court of Mullin's strange ideas, such as his theory that his family had conspired to hide bisexuality from him as a child and that he should have had the privilege of having orgasms, courtesy of his own family members, by the age of six.

Mullin eventually took the stand in his own defense and preached to the courtroom that there was a grand conspiracy to deep him from becoming "too powerful in his next life", one of his popular reincarnation theories. Also, because Einstein died on his birthday, Mullin claimed he was therefore the "designated leader of my generation". As for the killings themselves, they were consented to by his victims of course. "Every homosapien communicates telepathically, it's just not accepted socially", he told the weary court.

Somehow, the jury muddled throught this circus and madness and found Mullin sane and guilty of ten murders in August of 1973. He was sentenced to life in prison and will be eligible for parole in 2025.


Herbert Mullin

Around the same time Edmund Kemper was killing, a second serial killer roamed the area. But Herbert Mullin had a motive far different than that of any other serial killer of that time. In Mullin's view, his murders were the only way to prevent another earthquake from destroying California.

Mullin, born on April 18, 1947 (the 41st anniversary of the San Fransico earthquake of 1906) in Salinas, California. By the time he was in his twenties, he had became a moody, hostile dabbler in Eastern religions and illegal drugs. He was prone to violent outbursts.

In 1969 he began immatating every movement of his brother-in-law, which terrified his parents. This behavior was known as echopraxia, and it was a strong symptom of schizophrenia.

The day after he began mimicing his brother-in-law, Mullin checked into a mental hospital, where he was diagnosed as a schitzophrenic. He checked out six weeks later. By October of that year he had re-admitted himself to another mental institute, only to be re-released weeks later.

In 1972, a 24 year old Mullin arrived in Santa Cruz to visit his parents. Soon, he began recieving telepathic messages from his father saying "Herb, I want you to kill me somebody."

On the 13th of October, he did just that. He clubbed an old man to death on a road in the Santa Cruz mountains. A few weeks later he stabbed a young female hitchhiker to death and left her body in the hills.

On November 2, All Soulds Day, Mullin stabbed a Roman Catholic priest to death in his confessional. Around this time, he believed he'd been chosen by Albert Einstein as the "designated leader" of his generation, and his voices had changed; now they belonged to his victims, giving their permission to be killed.

In January of 1973, Mullin killed 5 more to prevent the disaster from occuring. In early February, he found a tent with four teenage campers inside. he told them to leave, then shot them, and left them dead where they fell.

On February 13, while loading firewood into his car, Mullin heard the voices yet again. He then drove through Santa Cruz, shot an old man, then left. Witnesses gave a description of the car, and police had him captured within minutes. He accepted his arrest.

During his trial Mullin gave rambling discussions of his earthquake theory, and a rationale of his crimes: "A rock doesn't make a decision while it's falling, it just falls." The jury decided that he was sane, and found him guilty on 10 counts of murder. He currently resides at Mule Creek State Prison in California.


Herbert Mullin

"The guy is a paranoid schizophrenic and he is dangerous"

A doctor warned Mullin's family of what will happen.

Mullin grew up in a household that his father described as 'oppressively religious'. He was pretty normal, even being voted "most likely to succeed" in high school. The beginning of the end of this normal life was when his friend died in a car crash. Mullin went into his own world following this. He arranged his room furniture around a photo of his friend, and told his girlfriend that he was 'turning gay'.

In February, 1969, Mullin went into a mental institution for six weeks. By this time he had been completely fucked up by LSD and pot. He had been hearing 'voices', and had shaved his head and even burned his cock with a cigarette because of the 'voices'.

He was put back in the nuthouse where he started writing heaps of letters to complete strangers. He signed these letters, "a human sacrifice, Herb Mullin." The writing was on the wall.

In June 1970, Mullin went on holiday to Hawaii. He was committed once again. Back in Santa Cruz Mullin's nutso behaviour had attracted police, and he ended up moving away to San Francisco. He moved around a lot over the next 15 months, until the voices began to tell him that he must kill. He moved back home in September 1972.

The first victim was Lawrence White on October 13, 1972. Mullin seen the old man walking alone by the side of the road. He stopped his car, told the old fellow there was something wrong with the engine, then, as the old guy was leaning over, beat the living fuck out of him with a baseball bat. He left the corpse lying where it fell.

Eleven days later Mullin picked up a hitchhiker, Mary Guilfoyle, and stabbed the sacrifice through the heart. He then dismembered the body, scattered the remains around the road, and drove home.

Mullin's next act was on November 2. He walked into St. Mary's church and entered the confessional. He then confessed his sins to Father Henry Tomei. Once he had released all his guilt he dragged the priest out of the confessional box and stabbed the fucker to death. Some say this was done to protect himself, but I prefer to believe it was a just good sense of humour.

"I saw the light over the confessional and the voice said: 'That's the person to kill' "

In December Mullin bought himself a pistol to aid him in his quest.

Mullin's paranoia had spun completely out of control by this time, and his next victim would pay dearly for his perceived crime against Mullin. On January 25, 1973, Mullin went after the guy who had introduced him to marijuana. Jim Gianera would pay for his involvement in the plot to destroy to Mullin.

Mullin went to Gianera'a old address where he met Kathy Francis, 29, who had moved in recently. She gave Mullin Gianera's new address. When he arrived at the new address he shot his former friend, then decided to punished others for Gianera's perceived crime. He stabbed and shot his wife to death. Mullin must have felt energetic this day because he then left the crime scene and returned to Kathy Francis's house and shot her to death in her sleep. He then found her two children, aged four and nine, sleeping in the next room. Two bullets later and they were never going to wake up again.

My favorite Mullin's murder was committed on February 6. Mullin was hiking in a nearby state park when he met four boys (aged 14-19) out camping. Before the kids had a chance to know what was happening Mullin had whipped out a .22 rifle and blasted all four into oblivion.

A week later Mullin finally fucked up for good. He was driving through a neighbouring street when he seen an old man working in his garden. Mullin pulled the car over, got out, and shot Fred Peruse. He was dead before Mullin had driven away. Unluckily for him though a nosy bastard next door had taken down Mullin's number plate. Mullin was arrested very shortly afterward.

Once in custody Mullin admitted to everything. He explained how the murders where in fact for the good of man, and that he had saved the world from earthquakes. Unfortunately for Mullin during his court case the jury didn't buy this story and found him guilty of ten murders. He was given life, but will come up for parole in 2020.


Mullin was known to water his doormat every day.

At same time as Mullin's crimes Edmund Kemper was also in his "Co-Ed Killer" murder spree and Santa Cruz became known as "Murderville USA."

In Whoever Fights Monsters, Robert Ressler described Mullin as "docile, polite, and handsome, but uncommunicative... Every few minutes he would ask, 'Sir, can I go back to my room now.'"

Ressler goes on to say that he believes that Mullins should not be in prison, that he is in fact insane and should be in a mental institution. According to Ressler, Mullin still believes that what he did was good for society, that he saved us all from certain death.

Another short guy who became a killer - Mullin was 5' 7".

"It was to avoid the great earthquake that was coming earlier this year. And it was prevented"

Mullin tells his psychiatrist how he saved the world.

Mullin gave his own version of the conversation he had with Father Henry Tomei -

H.T. - Herbert, do you read the bible?

H.M. - Yes.

H.T. - The commandments, where it says to honour thy father and mother?

H.M. - Yes

H.T. - Then you know how important it is to do as your father says.

H.M. - Yes

H.T. - I think it's so important that I want to volunteer to be your next sacrifice.


This is Mullins reason for murder, in his own words. It was taken from an early interrogation.

Q. You say it started with revenge, but that it also had to do with preventing earthquakes, which I guess other people had been doing. Other people were killing other people, which was keeping the earth quite. In particular the San Andreas fault? Or in general? Or what?

A. All faults. We human beings, through the history of the world, have protected our continents from cataclysmic earthquakes by murder. In other words, a minor natural disaster avoids a major natural disaster.

Q. But if murder is a natural disaster, then why should you be locked up for it, if it's natural and has a good effect?

A. Your laws. You see, the thing is, people get together, say, in the White House. People like to sing the die song, you know, people like to sing the die song. If I am president of my class when I graduate from high school, I can tell two, possible three young homo sapiens to die. I can sing that song to them and they'll have to kill themselves or be killed - and automobile accident, a knifing, a gunshot wound. You ask me why this is? And I say, well, they have to do that in order to protect the ground from an earthquake, because all of the other people in the community, because all the other people in the community had been dying all year long, and my class, we have to chip in so to speak to the darkness. We have to die also. And people would rather sing the die song than murder.

Q. What is the die song?

A. Just that. I'm telling you to die. I'm telling you to kill yourself, or be killed so that my continent will not fall off into the ocean. See, it's all based on reincarnation, this dies to protect my strata.

The Wacky World of Murder


Herbert Mullin (1972-1973) was a 24-year old religious former scholar-athlete at Santa Cruz high school who suffered some form of mental aberration after the 1965 motorcycle death of his best friend. He withdrew from society and turned his bedroom into a shrine to his best friend.

In 1969, he told his family he wanted to go to India and study religion. His parents put him in a mental hospital where he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and released. He began experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs, and was in and out of mental hospitals for the next two years where he underwent treatment for hearing voices about an upcoming great earthquake. What he didn't tell doctors is that one of the voices were telling him to kill in order to prevent the earthquake.

He started killing by driving up in the mountains and pretending to have a disabled vehicle where he would kill passerbys who stopped to render assistance. He beat 2 such people to death with a baseball bat, ripping the innards out of one victim with his bare hands, and leaving the pieces for the vultures. He then came to believe that some of the voices were telepathic messages from people begging him to kill them, so he bought a gun and went into state parks looking for pick up messages. He shot 5 people in one day at one park, a group of 4 campers at another park three months later, and 2 other people at various other times. The victimology represented no particular social group except for all victims being from the Santa Cruz area. A jury in 1973 decided he was fit to stand trial, and he was sentenced to life with eligibility for parole in 2025.


MULLIN, Herbert William

Born in Salinas, California, in April 1947, Mullin was the son of Catholic parents, reared by his devout mother in an atmosphere that his own father regarded as oppressively religious.  Still, Herbert seemed normal enough through his teens, participating in high school athletics and winning the class vote of confidence as "most likely to succeed."

The June 1965 death of Mullin's best friend in a car crash appeared to change everything, producing a sudden and startling shift in Herb's personality.  His bedroom was transformad into a shrine, with furniture arranged around the dead boy's photograph, and Mullin warned his girlfriend that he might be "turning gay."

By February 1969, Mullin seemed obsessed with Eastern religions, his family noting that he had become 4 1 more and more unrealistic" in daily behavior.  A month later, they persuaded him to enter a mental institution, but he refused to cooperase with psychiatrists and was released after six weeks. 

October found him in the depths of full-blown paranoid schizophrenia, exacerbated by consumption of LSD and marijuana.  Mullin heard "voices" commanding him to shave his head or burn his penis with a cigarette, and he obeyed their every order.  Briefly returned to the hospital, he began writing letters to dozens of total strangers, signing them la human sacrifice, Herb Mullin."

An ill-advised trip to Hawaii in june 1970 resulted in Mullin's brief commitment to a mental institution there.  Back in Santa Cruz, his odd behavior led to conflicts with police, and his problems were not erased by 15 months of hiding out in cheap San Francisco hotels.  By the time he carne home again in September 1972, the disembodied voices were commanding him to kill.

On October 13, 1972, while driving aimlessly through the Santa Cruz mountains, Mullin spotted elderly transient Lawrence White.  Pulling his car to the side of the road, Mullin asked White to help him with some "engine trouble," then beat the old man to death with a baseball bat and left his body where ˇt lay. 

Eleven days later, he picked up coed Mary Guilfoyle, stabbed her in the heart, then disemboweled her, scattering her organs on the shoulder of a lonely road, where skeletal remains were found in February 1973.  On November 2, Mullin spoke too freely in the confessional at St. Mary's Church, afterward fatally stabbing Father Henry Tomeˇ in a bid to protect himself from exposure.

Mullin's crimes coincidentally overlapped those of serial slayer EDMUND KEMPER, earning Santa Cruz an unwelcome reputation as "Murderville, USA." By November 1972, Herbert was hearing brand-new voices, emanating from prospective victims, begging him to kill them.  He bought a pistol in December and resumed the hunt.

On January 25, 1973, Mullin went looking for jim Gianera, the man who had "turned him on" to marijuana years earlier.  Herb now regarded that act as part of a plot to destroy his mind, and he meant to avenge himself.  Calling at Gianera's old address, he received new directions from 29-year-old Kathy Francis.  Moving on, he found Gianera at home, shot the man to death, then knifed and shot Gianera's wife for good measure.  From there, Mullin doubled back to kill Kathy Francis and her two small sons, shooting all three as they lay in bed.

On February 6, Mullin was hiking in a nearby state park when he met four teenage campers.  Approaching the boys with casual conversation, he whipped out his gun and killed all four in a rapid burst of fire before they could react or flee.  A week later, driving through Santa Cruz, Mullin pulled to the curb and fatally shot Fred Perez while the old man was working in his garden.  This time, neighbors saw his license plate and Mullin was arrested by patrolmen moments later.

In custody, Mullin confessed to his crimes, insisting that the homicidas were necessary to prevent catastrophic earthquakes from destroying California.  Charged and convicted in 10 of the murders (omitting White, Guilfoyle, and Tomeˇ), Mullin was sentenced to life imprisonment.  He will be eligible for parole in the year A.D. 2020.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans


Serial killer wants to come home

23 march 2006

IONE — Herbert William Mullin wants to come home to Santa Cruz County. He'd like to live in Boulder Creek and find a wife. He's thought about auditing a psychology course at UC Santa Cruz. He says he would be a hard-working, law-abiding citizen.

But Wednesday the California Board of Prison Terms refused to release the convicted serial killer, saying he should stay behind bars for at least another five years, the maximum time allowed between hearings.

Mullin was convicted in 1973 of 10 slayings in Santa Cruz County and one in Santa Clara County.

The panel's action came after a roughly two-hour hearing at Mule Creek State Prison, during which Mullin discussed his guilt, his life in prison and his hopes for the future.

"I just want to get back to living my life free," the 1965 San Lorenzo Valley High School graduate told the panel of two commissioners, whose identities are kept confidential under prison rules.

Mullin's convictions stem from a five-month killing spree in late 1972 and early 1973. His victims included strangers and acquaintances, men and women. He killed a woman and her two young sons, ages 4 and 9, shooting them all in the head and stabbing the 4-year-old in the back. He stabbed a 64-year-old Catholic priest in a confessional booth in a Los Gatos church.

Though he was convicted in 11 murders, he's confessed to killing 13.


"This is ugly. These are very ugly crimes you've been convicted of," a commissioner said.

As the commissioner recited the names of his victims and the circumstances of their deaths, Mullin was calm, impassive, a lifted eyebrow or turn of the head the only signs of any agitation.

Though he was argumentative at times, he maintained that composure throughout the hearing.

"The people I am accused of killing, I did kill," Mullin said after the commissioner finished. "But I'm not guilty by reason of insanity."

Mullin was 26 when he entered the state prison system. Now he's less than a month away from his 59th birthday. He's a slight man, dwarfed by the male and female correctional officers who escorted him, shackled, into the hearing room. He's balding and wears large wire-rim glasses.

Though in 1973 Mullin said he killed to prevent earthquakes, he didn't give that explanation when asked about his motivation Wednesday. Instead he said he was suffering from "undifferentiated schizophrenia" at the time.

"I was not a thinking individual," he said, blaming his parents for "denying him maturity" and "not teaching me the facts of life."

His parents didn't explain the "pecking order" to him, he explained, as an example, adding he's learned about the system of deference to those in power while in prison.

"The state should be punishing my parents, at least chastising them publicly," Mullin said. "They're the ones who made me do it. They put me in a situation where I became mentally insane."

Mullin said his parents have since died.

Back then, Mullin said he was having a "terrible time." He took LSD and marijuana, was in and out of mental hospitals, and sought outpatient treatment in Santa Cruz.

But he's changed, he said. He's healed. He attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and hasn't taken any kind of medication since 1976.

He's taken vocational courses in cooking, landscaping and cabinetry, and studied tai chi.

According to a prison report read at the hearing, he's worked as a janitor for the past five years, and received positive evaluations from his supervisor.

Mullin suggested grocery clerk or gas station attendant as possible employment opportunities if he were released.

A commissioner reminded him the world had changed while he was in prison, and that gas stations were now self-serve.

Mullin insisted he was ready to face the world, to be a benefit to society and to demonstrate rehabilitation works.

"I'm extremely remorseful and sorrowful for my part in committing this crime," Mullin said. "I pray for the souls of the victims every day."

But Santa Cruz County prosecutor Ariadne Symons, sitting a few feet away from Mullin, said his "disregard for human suffering was astonishing." He had no words for the families of his victims, she said.

As to his plan to seek shelter and help finding a job at New Life Community Services in Santa Cruz, Symons said it's doubtful he could find a place.

Symons said she serves on the agency's board, and those who seek help there must accept responsibility for their actions, something Mullin has never done.

"I don't care how well he behaves in prison," she said, urging the commissioners to keep Mullin locked up. "Prison is also about retribution. He's spent 32 years in prison and he hasn't begun to pay his debt to society, not only for the 13 people he killed but also for the families, the loved ones in this community."

Parole was denied because of the "cruel and callous" manner in which Mullin carried out his crimes, the fact that he hadn't accepted responsibility for them and the continuing danger he poses to society, a commissioner said, explaining the decision to Mullin.

"You are not the victim here," he said. "The victims and their families are the victims. You are the individual that made them victims."

Herbert Mullin's victims

Lawrence White, 55

Mary Guilfoyle, 24

Rev. Henri Tomei, 64

James Gianera, 24

Joan Gianera, 23

Kathleen Prentiss, also known as Kathy Francis, 30

David Hughes, 9

Daemon Francis, 4

Robert Spector, 18

David Oliker, 18

Brian Scott Card, 19

Mark Dreibelbis, 19

Fred Perez, 72


Serial killer from Santa Cruz County denied parole

26 march 2006

BOULDER CREEK - Serial killer Herbert William Mullin wants to come home to Santa Cruz County and find a wife.

`I just want to get back to living my life free,'' Mullin told the Board of Prison Terms on Wednesday. But the board denied his freedom bid and told the Mule Creek State Prison inmate to try again for parole in five years.

Mullin was convicted in 1973 of 10 slayings in Santa Cruz County and one in Santa Clara County during a five-month killing spree in late 1972 and early 1973.

He killed a woman and her two young sons, ages 4 and 9, shooting them all in the head and stabbing the 4-year-old in the back. He stabbed a 64-year-old Catholic priest in a confessional booth in a Los Gatos church.

The board's decision followed a hearing at the prison in the Northern California community of Ione.


Herbert Williams Mullin (1947 - ) was a serial killer who operated in California in the early 1970s.

Childhood and youth

Born on April 18, 1947, and raised in Santa Cruz, California, Mullin had a relatively normal childhood. His father, a World War II veteran, was stern but not overtly abusive. He frequently discussed his heroic war activities and showed his son how to use a gun at an early age. Mullin had numerous friends at school and was voted "most likely to succeed" by his classmates. However, shortly after graduating from high school, one of Mullin's best friends was killed in a car accident, and Mullin was devastated. He built a shrine to his deceased friend in his bedroom and later expressed fears that he was gay, even though he had a long-term girlfriend at the time.

As he entered adulthood, Mullin's behaviour became increasingly unstable. He broke off his relationship with his girlfriend for no apparent reason, started obsessing over impending earthquakes and began asking his sister to have sex with him. He claimed a desire to go to India to study religion, although he never did so.

In 1969, at the age of 21, Mullin allowed his family to commit him to a mental hospital. Over the next few years, he would enter various institutions, but would discharge himself after only a short stay. He burned cigarettes out on his own skin, talked to himself, attempted to enter the priesthood, and got evicted from an apartment after he repeatedly pounded on the floor, shouting at people who were not there.

Murder spree

By 1972, Mullin was 25 and had moved back in with his parents in Santa Cruz. By now he was hearing voices in his head that told him an earthquake was imminent, and that only through murder could he save California (Mullin's birthday, April 18, was the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which he thought very significant).

On October 13, 1972, Mullin went out and battered a homeless man to death with a baseball bat. He was to claim that the victim was Jonah from the Bible, and that he had sent Mullin a telepathic message saying, "Pick me up and throw me over the boat. Kill me so that others will be saved."

The next victim was Mary Guilfoyle, 24, who Mullin picked up hitch-hiking. He stabbed her to death, sliced open her stomach and dumped her corpse at the side of the road. When Guilfoyle's body was found, it was mistakenly thought to be a victim of another serial killer operating in the area at the time, Edmund Kemper.

In November, Mullin claimed his third victim when he went to confess his sins but ended up stabbing the priest, Father Henri Tomei, to death. After that, Mullin decided to join the U.S. Marines and actually managed to pass the physical and psychiatric tests. However, he was refused entry when it was found out that he had a number of minor arrests for his bizarre and disruptive behaviour in the past. This rejection fuelled Mullin's paranoid delusions of conspiracies, behind which he believed was a powerful group of hippies.

Having purchased several guns, Mullin decided to kill Jim Gianera, a high school friend who had sold him cannabis, a drug that Mullin thought might have worsened his mental condition. However, when Mullin went to Gianera's house on January 25, 1973, he found that his old friend had moved away. The house was now occupied by Kathy Francis, and she gladly gave Gianera's new address. Mullin thanked her and immediately went to the address he had been given, where he slaughtered both Gianera and his wife with shots to the head, then stabbed their bodies repeatedly. Having accomplished his mission; Mullin then went back to Francis' house, where he shot her and her two sons, aged 9 and 6, dead. Because Francis' husband — who was away at the time — was a drug dealer, the five murders were thought to be motivated by drug trafficking. (It would later be pointed out by prosecutors that the murder of Kathy Francis eliminated Mullin's claims of not guilty by reason of insanity because he killed her to remove a witness who could link him to the Gianera killings.)

On February 10, Mullin was wandering around Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park where he saw four teenaged boys out camping. He walked over to them, engaged in a brief conversation and claimed to be a park ranger, then, without provocation, pulled out a gun and shot all of them to death.

The final murder took place three days later on February 13. Mullin was driving along when a voice apparently told him to kill someone. He pulled over and shot dead an old man who was mowing his lawn. Then he got back into his car and cruised off. It was broad daylight and there were a number of witnesses, and Mullin was quickly arrested. In the space of four months he had killed 13 people.

Trial and imprisonment

In custody, Mullin confessed to his crimes, and also his motive, that he had been told by voices in his head to kill people in order to prevent an earthquake (and he claimed the fact that there had not been an earthquake recently was due to his handiwork).

Mullin was eventually charged with 10 murders (he was not charged with the first three), and his trial opened up on July 30, 1973. Mullin had admitted to all the crimes and therefore the trial focused on whether he was sane and culpable of his actions. The fact that he had covered his tracks and shown premeditation in some of his crimes was put forth by the prosecution, while the defense argued that the defendant had a history of mental illness. On August 19, the verdict was delivered. Mullin was declared guilty of first-degree murder in the cases of Jim Gianera and Kathy Francis — because they were premeditated — while for the other eight murders Mullin was found guilty of second-degree murder because they were more impulsive.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment and will be eligible for parole in 2025, when he will be 77.


Herb Mullin: Killing to save California from Earthquakes

By Shirley Lynn Scott

Unnatural Disasters

"The line between inner and outer landscapes is breaking down. Earthquakes can result in seismic upheavals within the human mind." -- William S. Burroughs

Why did Herbert Mullin brutally slaughter thirteen innocent victims, including children, campers, and a Catholic priest, who was stabbed in his confessional booth on "All Souls Day"?

If you asked the police, Mullin was whacked-out druggie with "Legalize Acid" tattooed on his belly. Mullin's lawyers argued that he was a deluded, paranoid schizophrenic. And if you ask serial killer Edmund Kemper, who terrorized Santa Cruz in the same time frame, "Herbie was just a cold-blooded killer . . . killing everyone he saw for no good reason," he said. "I guess that's kind of hilarious, my sitting here so self-righteously talking like that, after what I've done."

To hear Herb Mullin tell it, he is a hero, a sacrificial scapegoat, who killed his "consenting" victims to save California from a cataclysmic earthquake. His father, war veteran Martin William Mullin, had telepathically commanded his son to murder: "Why won't you give me anything? Go kill somebody -- move!"

Even Governor Ronald Reagan's name got tossed in the "who's responsible" roster. As the governor of California, his administration rapidly shut down the mental health hospitals in the early 1970's. After Mullin's trial, the jury foreman wrote an open letter to Reagan, accusing him and the legislators of being "as responsible" for the murders as Mullin. Reagan called Mullin's release a "psychiatric mistake."

In the end, a natural disaster might have been preferable to the unnatural disaster called Herbert Mullin. His rampage began on October 13th 1972 and ended January 13th, 1973. He killed thirteen people. Mullin bashed the skull of alcoholic drifter with a baseball bat, eviscerated a female hitchhiker, stabbed a priest to death in his confessional, shot and stabbed a drug dealer's wife and children and a young married couple, murdered four teenage campers executioner style, and shot a retired boxer with a rifle in his front yard.

There was no evident pattern to his mayhem. Mullin himself was articulate and polite, sitting in on Bible study groups and working for Goodwill Industries. He had even been voted "Most Likely To Succeed" by his high school peers. The community, which had been horrified by senseless murders, clamored for some sort of rhyme or reason. Yet, at the trial, as he spouted his bizarre philosophies, Mullin created more questions than he answered. Santa Cruz was shocked that a madman such as this could be roaming the streets.

Clearly, Mullin was mentally ill with paranoid schizophrenia. He said his victims telepathically gave him permission to kill them. But schizophrenics can choose to "disobey" their voices. And although many serial killers use mental illness to excuse their heinous behavior, schizophrenics are not more likely to kill than the sane population. So what pushed Mullin over the edge? And would the jury, who saw for themselves that Mullin was genuinely disturbed, find him legally insane?

Normal Childhood, Abnormal Adult

"I believe that my father has been unequally blamed for my failures. But surely, if he had given me the six-year old homosexual "blow job" oral stimulation that I was entitled to, like most other people get, I would never had taken LSD without his permission." -- Herbert Mullin after his arrest

Herbert Mullin was born April 18th, 1947, a date which held great significance for him later. April 18th was the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. It was also the anniversary of Albert Einstein's death. Both of these events would, in Herb's twisted mind, give him a cosmic duty to kill.

As a child, Herbert Mullin was described as bright and gentle-natured. When Herb was five, the Mullins moved from a small farming community to San Francisco, where his father, Martin William Mullin, worked as a furniture salesman. Herb and his older sister attended parochial school. By all accounts, the Mullins were a well-adjusted, educated family. Bill Mullin had been a military hero in WWII, and he was considered stern, but never abusive. He was proud of his service, and relayed war stories to his son, and even taught him how to use a gun. Sometimes the elder Mullin would playfully box with his young son in the kitchen before dinner -- Herb would later interpret these matches as a deadly challenge by his sadistic father.

According to the adult Herb, his entire childhood was destroyed by a conspiracy led by his parents. He saw his parents as "killjoy reincarnationalists," who "believe that by spoiling the enjoyment of others they improve their birth-position in the next life." Herb later testified that he believed his father threatened to kill anyone who would play with Herb, and even went door to door asking that everyone ignore his son. Even the Communion services were diabolical: "When I was in the second grade they told me that Jesus Christ, the person, actually lives in the Holy Eucharist. . . . It is a lie, designed to induce naiveté and gullibility in young children. Thereby making them susceptible to receive and carry out telepathic subconscious suicide orders."

But this is schizophrenic hindsight. At the time, Herb seemed happy. When he was halfway through high school, the Mullins moved to Felton, a small town among the majestic Redwoods in Santa Cruz county. Despite being uprooted at a vulnerable age, Herb made many friends in high school and was envied as one of the "popular" crowd. He played varsity football, had a steady girlfriend, and was voted "most likely to succeed." (A macabre prophecy, considering that Herb would become Santa Cruz county's most prolific serial killer.)

After graduating in 1965, Herb went to Cabrillo College and studied engineering. He considered joining the army. Everything was going great. But then paranoid schizophrenia changed all that.

The incident that stands out as the "trigger" to Herb's deteriorating sanity was the tragic death of his best friend, Dean Richardson, who was killed in a car accident the summer after high school graduation. Herb was devastated, and fell into a state of macabre despair, building "shrines" in his room to Dean, where he spent hours alone. He wondered if Dean's death was some sort of cosmic sacrifice, and became obsessed with the idea of reincarnation. Although raised as a Catholic, Herb began to fervently study Eastern religions, looking for answers -- answers to the tragedy of a lost friend, and answers to the voices that were suddenly haunting his thoughts. He changed his major from Engineering to Philosophy at the state college he attended, but dropped out after a few weeks.

In the spring of 1966 he ran into a friend of Dean's at the beach named Jim Gianera. Gianera gave him some pot, and told him about the anti-war movement. Mullin later said that "Gianera spearheaded a movement to befuddle and confuse me," and that the pot Gianera gave him damaged his brain. "If Gianera had given me some Benzedrine instead, I would have become an artist."

He alienated his longtime girlfriend with his sudden involvement in hallucinogenic drugs. He talked about an impending California earthquake, and moving to Canada to avoid it. His weird glares and bizarre ramblings gave her the creeps. And he was becoming violent. When he told her in 1968 that he might be gay, the relationship was over.

On the surface, Herb's rebellious activities were typical of the times. He experimented with drugs and horrified his military-bred father by declaring himself a Consciousness Objector to the Vietnam war. He announced that he was going to India to study yoga. But his behavior escalated from weird to alarming. One night in 1969, while visiting his sister, he mimicked his brother-in-law's every gesture and word. (This is called echolalia and echopraxia, symptomatic of schizophrenia.)

His sister later described it: "When my husband would eat, Herb would eat. Whatever my husband would do, Herb would do. And that went on for four hours. Then he just sat and stared at us." The next day his family took him to a mental hospital, where he voluntarily committed himself, but he was soon out on his own. Herb later asked his sister to have sex with him, and when she declined, he asked if is brother-in-law would sleep with him.

The whole family grimly worried for his safety, as well as their own.

Because he had been so normal as a child, the Mullins thought Herb's suddenly scary behavior was drug-induced. After all, it was Santa Cruz in the late 1960's -- marijuana farms and acid labs flourished in the nooks of the Loma Prieta mountains. Counter-culture blossomed in the laid-back beach town, where hippies lived off the land, women hitchhiked, and drugs were easily accessible. Even fifth graders were selling pills at school, according to the local papers.

It wasn't a stretch to think Herb was on drugs -- "Legalize Acid" was tattooed on his belly. Although he dabbled in acid and pot use, he did not indulge more than his peers -- but mixing recreational drugs with mental illness is a concoction for psychosis.

A Danger to Others

"If I was allowed to go into the Coast Guard or the Marine Corps, I would not have taken all those peoples' lives." -- Herb Mullin

Schizophrenia is a hideous mental illness, which can devastate the life of a promising young adult. Typically, symptoms flare up in the late teens to early twenties, including hearing voices, an intense paranoia of others, and delusional thinking.

After his release from the Mendecino State Hospital in 1969, Herb took a dishwashing job in South Lake Tahoe, but soon quit. He returned to Santa Cruz, where a ranger found him sitting cross-legged in a trance-like state, as if meditating. When the ranger asked him to leave, Mullin continued to stare straight ahead, but slowly reached for a hunting knife by his side. The ranger caught him before he grabbed the knife, and took him to jail, but he was soon released.

Mullin drifted down to San Luis Obispo, and told his roommate that he had been "receiving messages" which were telling him to do things. After meditating, he "ritualistically" burned the end of his penis with a lit cigarette, and later made an aggressive pass at his male friend, whose uncle was a psychiatric doctor. Mullin was promptly committed to a psychiatric hospital: "As a result of mental disorder, said person is a danger to others, a danger to himself, and gravely disabled."

In 1970 he met an older woman, and flew to Hawaii with her, but within days he was back in the psychiatric ward. He preached yoga, non-violence, and left the premises to look for a job while wearing his hospital gown. When his parents paid for his flight home, he scared them so much with his psychotic rants that they pulled off the road to call the police.

Herb was released, and returned to Santa Cruz. His sanity continued to deteriorate, and his behavior grew increasingly erratic. He blazed through fads as if trying to secure an identity and peace of mind. He shaved his head, went on a macrobiotic diet, and rapidly lost weight. Later he wore a big black sombrero and faked a Mexican accent, then became a boxer.

Although he preached anti-violence, he smashed a hatchet against a fireplace when an Asian woman ignored his suggestion that they have a biracial child together. Mullin swung from counter-culture to ultra conservative -- while in court for bizarre behavior on the streets, he demanded that the judge legalize LSD and marijuana, yet at he later despised hippies and flower children. After being a conscientious objector, he tried to join the Marines. Herb wasn't just bisexual, as he insisted in court, or biracial, as he pretended to be. He was bi-everything -- bipolitical, bispiritual, bicultural.

Herb knew there was something wrong. He obsessed over his life, trying to figure out what went wrong, and who sabotaged his mind. He blamed his father for being too sexually uptight, and later accused him of being a mass murderer who commanded him to kill by telepathy. He blamed the drugs he took for messing up his brain, and targeted the drug dealers. He blamed the hippies for brainwashing him into being a conscientious objector. He tried drug treatment centers, he tried outpatient clinics for the mentally ill, but didn't stick with anything. He later even tried Bible study meetings, but made everyone uneasy when he declared, "Satan gets into people and makes them do things they don't want to."

Critical time

In May 1971, When Herb was 23, he moved to San Francisco, away from the watchful eye of his family. Donald Lunde, a psychiatrist who examined Mullin and later wrote The Die Song, believes that this was a critical period in Herb's psychosis. He lived in decrepit apartments among alcoholics and drug addicts, sinking further into his bizarre belief systems. Mullin walked into the YMCA with a Bible, and soon became a fierce boxer. In his first Golden Gloves tournament, he wouldn't stop assailing his opponent -- trainers had to pull him away. He punched a speedbag until his knuckles were covered with blood. If left unattended, he stood still and loudly chattered with himself.

After losing his first match in the ring, Mullin left the boxing ring with the plans to become a priest. He dabbled in art. After punching the floors of his apartment, and getting into screaming matches with God, the apartment manager evicted him. "He left the human race that day," said an artist friend.

In September 1972, Mullin moved in with his parents, determined to make something of himself. But he stopped taking his medication, and he festered in his anger at his father while living under his roof. And to top it all off, a major earthquake was predicted to devastate California in the next few months. Although the eccentric, self-taught scientist who grimly announced the tremblor wasn't taken seriously by most, there was one person who took it as a call to action. Where most people saw a crackpot, Mullin saw a prophet.

Murder Prevents Earthquakes

"Make no mistake, Mr. Mullin hears voices, and the voices told him to kill. The acts were not acts of murder -- but acts of sacrifice." -- James Jackson, Mullin's attorney

The male transient

On a wet October morning, Friday the thirteenth, Herbert Mullin found a baseball bat in the garage, and went for a drive. Earlier in the week, he claimed that his father had been sending him telepathic messages to kill: "If I didn't kill, it would bring shame to the family by showing cowardice," he said. "It was kill or get out."

As he drove along the windy road that followed the river through the redwoods, Mullin spotted a transient walking alone. After he passed him, he pulled over, popped the hood of his '58 Chevy station wagon, and pretended to have car trouble. When the homeless man, Lawrence White stopped to take a look at the engine, Mullin bashed his head with the baseball bat. He then pushed the lifeless body of the would-be good Samaritan down the side of the road, and drove off. "Then," Mullin said, "the ball was rolling."

White was an easy target, and wasn't missed. Between stints in the drunk tank, the 55-year-old transient slept under bridges and in the woods where he wouldn't be hassled. He was a "blank," barely mentioned in the papers when his battered body was discovered days later. No family came to his funeral, and no one rushed out to find his killer.

Mullin later claimed that White looked like Jonah from the Bible, and sent him telepathic messages: "Hey, man, pick me up and throw me over the boat. Kill me so that others will be saved."

The female hitchhiker

As a means of understanding serial killers, renowned FBI investigator Jon Douglas used this figure of speech: "If you want to understand the artist, look at his work." Mullin took the notion a step further -- if you want to understand the artist, recreate his work. After reading Irving Stone's biography on Michelangelo, The Agony and the Ecstasy, Mullin decided that, as a serious artist, he should do what the famous Renaissance sculptor did -- dissect a body. "Michelangelo spent hours and hours secretly dissecting bodies so he could find out about the form of the human body for his painting and sculpture and stuff. That's why his works are so much better than anyone else's. It gave him insight others didn't have." His mom had given him the Michelangelo book, hoping that Herb would be inspired to use art as an emotional outlet. What it inspired was another murder, and the most grisly one in Mullin's career. (In a rare twist of maternal wrath, Herb blamed his mother for this killing, believing that she gave him the book as a "hint" to dissect someone. "I think she was trying to tell me what to do, so I could have this insight too.")

Mary Guilfoyle was running late for a job interview, so she did what many young women in Santa Cruz did, despite the warnings -- she hitched a ride. Although she was fortunate that Edmund Kemper wasn't making the rounds that day on this main thoroughfare near Cabrillo Community College (just a few blocks from his duplex home,) she underestimated the driver of the '58 Chevy station wagon that pulled up alongside her. No doubt that the twenty-four year old Guilfoyle had heard the cautionary tales about women, last seen hitchhiking, who were missing. Or raped. Or found decapitated. But the slight, doe-eyed young man behind the wheel didn't look like a lecherous brute. He was handsome, soft-spoken and not much bigger than her.

With Guilfoyle relaxed in the car, Mullin pulled off onto a quiet side street, yanked out a hunting knife, and stabbed her in the chest and back. Guilfoyle died instantly. But she would not be found for months.

After dragging her body into a deserted area off the hillside road, Mullin opened Guilfoyle up and unraveled her organs. Mullin thought he could see inside people's heads -- but now he wanted to see inside their bodies. Whatever it was he saw, it was enough to dissuade him from recommitting this grotesque and morbid autopsy again. If voices were commanding him to kill, he was overextending into fetishistic savagery.

The Catholic Priest

On November 2, All Souls Day, one of the holiest of Catholic celebrations, Mullin stumbled into a church in Los Gatos, just over the hills from Santa Cruz. He had been drinking, and decided to go to St. Mary's Catholic Church "to give me strength to never attempt to kill again." Within moments he was brutally stabbing a priest to death in his confessional booth with his hunting knife. (He later claimed he carried the knife into the church to "protect" himself.)

Mullin thought the church was empty, but when he heard Father Henri Tomei in one of the booths, he decided, "Well, if you (the priest) are in here, I guess I should kill you." He tried to force the confessional door open. Tomei, hearing the commotion, opened the door to see what was going on. Mullin attacked Tomei with a hunting knife, stabbing him in the heart as he struggled, trapped in the confines of his narrow confessional. A parishioner walked in and, seeing the struggle, screamed and ran out. She got a glimpse of a young man dressed in black -- struggling with the priest, it must have been a blur of black and blood.

The community was outraged by the senseless murder of 65-year-old Tomei, a hero in the French Resistance movement World War II. Some worried that it was the work of a Satanic cult. Civic leaders attended his funeral, and so did the police, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man dressed in black. But Mullin did not return. He did, however, leave fingerprints at the crime scene.

That Mullin's third victim would be a Catholic priest fits with his fleeting malice toward organized religion. Religion was fine with Mullin, as long as it was his own bizarre concoction. In 1970 he disrupted a Sunday morning service in a Catholic church, telling the startled congregation that "what you are doing is wrong." Mullin then offered his own philosophy as an alternative, but was physically tossed out before he could harvest any converts. He tried to persuade his fellow mental patients at a psychiatric ward in San Luis Obispo to help him change "the spiritual nature of the world." He got into yelling matches with God, terrifying his roommate in San Francisco. Yet Mullin's rebellion against religion often flipped into a full embrace of Catholicism. He carried a Bible around, and talked about becoming a priest. His mother was shocked by his murder of a Catholic priest. "He'd been a deeply religious child, you know, altar boy in the Catholic Religion," she said.

Sanctified Killing

By killing Father Tomei, Mullin seems to have struck close to the source of his anger -- his own stern, Roman Catholic father. Father Tomei's murder agitated him more than any of his victims, according to psychiatrist Donald Lunde. In his typical pattern of "kill and make up," Mullin now wanted to appease his father, and tried to follow in his footsteps by joining the armed forces. The military seemed like the ideal solution -- Mullin could indulge his violent urges with the blessings of the state.

In November, he applied to join the Coast Guard. When he was denied in December after failing the psychological exam, he lapsed into his paranoia that it was all a conspiracy against him. The hippies and war resistors were to blame -- they brainwashed him by giving him drugs and talked him into being a Conscientious Objector. Now the voices were back, urging a sacrifice. And this time he was going after the people who ruined his life. "The peace advocates and flower children had played tricks on my mind, and I had to reap vengeance," he told Dr. Lunde.

He targeted a long time friend and fellow drug user, John Hooper, and brought a hunting knife to his house. But there were nine other people there. Mullin realized it was time to upgrade his killing method, and bought a gun. At the gun shop he gave his occupation as a "sketch artist," lying about his stints in the psychiatric wards.

But for some reason, Mullin decide to hold off on killing the flower children. Instead, he applied to the Marine Corps. The recruiting sergeant was reluctant, but after Mullin's badgering he recommended him for service. He wrote in his official report: "Herbert William Mullin is an intelligent and highly motivated young man, with an ultrazealous eagerness to enlist in the USMC . . . Because of Herb's earnest desire to improve his lot and climb above his peers, as it were, I submit that Herbert William Mullin can, and most likely will, be a benefit to whatever unit he is assigned and a credit to his corps." Mullin was tremendously excited that his application had been accepted -- he now had a purposeful mission.

On January 15, 1973, Mullin passed both the physical and psychiatric exams for the Marines, but when he stubbornly refused to sign a document acknowledging his arrest record, he was dismissed. He was devastated, bitterly denouncing his parents for their failures in raising him. But they had enough of Herb's rantings, and told him it was time to move out. On January 19, Mullin found a shabby apartment near the beach, where he sat alone, his resentments festering, and the kill-voices filling his brain.

He decided to kill the "most important peace advocate," Jim Gianera, his high school buddy.

The Hippie Massacre

"This thing has a pattern to it. It's not a case of some crazy man running around shooting people." -- Santa Cruz Police Captain Overton, trying to quell public concern, after the Gianera/Francis murders

In Mullin's distorted logic, Jim Gianera represented everything that messed up his life. Gianera gave him the drugs that caused his brain to malfunction; Gianera told him about the peace movement which made all of society shun him, and he even "tricked" him out of buying land. Mullin, alone and fuming in his disappointments, decided that Gianera had duped him.

The Mystery Spot cabin where Kathy Francis and her two sons were shot (UPI/San Francisco Chronicle)

On January 25, 1973, Mullin drove to a shanty area hidden away on muddy road near the "Mystery Spot," a popular Santa Cruz tourist trap in the mountains. Soaked by the rain, he waited for Kathy Francis to come to the door of the wooden shack she shared with her husband Bob (who was in Berkeley, closing a drug deal) and her two children, 9 year-old David and 4 year-old Daemon. When Mullin asked to see Jim, Kathy told him that Jim and his wife Joan moved to Western Avenue in town. Mullin thanked her and left. But he would be back.

When Gianera let the casual acquaintance into his home, Mullin cried "You're claptrapping me!" and shot Jim as he tried to escape. Wounded, he dragged himself upstairs, where his wife was taking a bath. Mullin followed him and shot them both in the head. With his hunting knife, he stabbed both of the Gianeras to the point of overkill. The Gianeras would be discovered later that day by Joan's mother, who was babysitting their infant girl.

The decision to go back to Mystery Spot Road and kill Kathy Francis and her two boys was the most "logical" of Mullin's otherwise unfathomable killings. Francis was a potential witness, and he was terrified of jail. He drove back to the Francis home, parked his station wagon down the road so it wouldn't get stuck in the mud, shoved the cabin door open, and opened fire. He shot Kathy in the chest and head, and killed the two boys as they played chinese checkers on their bunk bed. In his rage he stabbed all three, even though they were apparently dead.

The massacre looked like a "drug burn" to the local authorities. Both Bob Francis and Jim Gianera were known marijuana dealers. After Bob Francis was found and cleared as a suspect, the police asked him come up with any suspects. Bob produced a long list of drug dealers, rivals, and other misfits, but Herb Mullin was not on the list. In fact, the last that Jim Gianera had seen of Mullin was in the summer of 1971, when Mullin did 10 hits of acid during a visit. A few months later Mullin sent Gianera a weird letter, asking him who he was going to vote for in the upcoming November elections. Bob Francis and Jim Gianera laughed at it, and didn't give Mullin much thought after that.


Santa Cruz county was petrified. In 1970 John Linley Frazier terrorized the town with his cold-blooded execution of the Ohta family and secretary. A note under the windshield wiper of the Ohta's Rolls Royce was frightfully Mansonesque: "Today world war 3 will begin as brought to you by the pepole of the free universe," and warned that anyone abusing the environment for the sake of materialism will die. Gun sales rose sharply, especially among homeowners, who took the threat seriously. Some thought it was a bloodthirsty ecological cult, but Frazier, who was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, had acted alone. He did have some competition, however . . .

Female hitchhikers began vanishing in April 1972. Some had been found decapitated. On February 5, 1973, Alice Liu and Rosalind Thorpe disappeared. The next day, a 79-year-old widow was found raped and strangled to death in her bathtub. Before the month was over, another six victims would be discovered. And many hitchhikers were being raped. Was this the work of one fiend?

A few days after the Liu and Thorpe disappearance, Guilfoyle's skeleton was discovered on February 11. Earlier, Cynthia Schall's body parts had been found strewn along the coast, and Mary Ann Pesc's head was discovered in the Loma Prieta mountains. Yet college women continued to hitchhike, insisting it was a lifestyle.

The Teenage Campers

In Henry Cowell State Park, the Card brothers built a temporary campsite out of plastic sheets and spare wood, far from the ranger's route. They chose a spot called the "Garden of Eden," and on February 10th, the four teenagers who lived in it were about to be permanently expelled. The wrath of the camp rangers would have been nothing compared to the wrath of Herb Mullin, self-styled avenging angel.

Mullin discovered the illegal campsite when he wandering around in the woods. The four boys, Brian Scott Card, David Oliker, Rober Spector, and Mark Dreibelbis, invited him in, but Mullin was hostile. He demanded that the boys pack up and leave, because they were defacing government property. (Mullin was angry that he had been hassled by a ranger for doing the same thing a while earlier, and didn't think it was fair that these teenagers should get away with it.) The boys looked at the scowling Mullin, comic in his intent to enforce the law, and laughed at him. As they argued, Mullin said, "I decided to kill them, and asked them telepathically if I could, and they all answered yes. They were all in a sitting position, and it was all over in a few seconds." Later, Mullin would say that "they asked for it." He meant it literally, but prosecutors took it as proof of his hatred for renegade campers, hippies, flower-children, and other counter-culture deviants. Had he ever really asked for the victim's "permission," it's likely he would not have had many takers.

The scene of carnage in the woods, discovered a week later by the brother of one of the victims, revealed a desperate struggle that lasted more than a humane "few seconds." One of the teenagers was shot trying to claw his way through the plastic walls. They were trapped, and Mullin viciously shot them one by one. When Mullin was finished, he took their rifle and twenty dollars.

Come Catch Me

"We must be the murder capital of the world right now." -- Santa Cruz District Attorney Peter Chang

The Final Victim

On February 12, trapshooters found Mary Guilfoyle's remains. Again, police warned against the danger of hitchhiking, and implored young women to stay out of the cars of strangers. "It's like Russian Roulette," they said. But this warning carried little weight with the victim Mullin would hit tomorrow -- who would have known that puttering in your front yard at eight in the morning could be deadly?

On February 13, Mullin planned to bring some firewood to his parent's home. But a telepathic message came from his father: "Don't deliver a stick of wood until you kill somebody." The voice suggested Uncle Enos, but when Herb resisted, the voice wasn't as particular. Just kill somebody, anybody.

Mullin drove by Fred Perez as he worked in his driveway. It was a still, foggy morning. He shot the retired prize-fighter once in the heart, and he died instantly. Mullin sat quietly in his car for a moment, holding the rifle he took from the campsite a few days ago. Then he backed up, and drove away slowly.

If, for Mullin, the young campers represented his own "flower child" phase that he now wanted to wipe away, his thirteenth victim, Perez, oddly enough, represented someone who Mullin wanted to be. "He was someone I respected," Mullin said, although he didn't know him. He had no explanation for why he shot Perez. The prosecution would later argue that it was a "come catch me" crime, that Mullin was ready to call it quits.

This time there was a witness -- a neighbor heard the shot, and peering out her window, caught a glimpse at the killer's vehicle. Mullin was headed toward Felton, his Chevy station wagon filled with firewood for his parents, with the rifle in the front seat, covered by a paper bag. A policeman pulled him over without backup, and arrested him. Mullin didn't resist. But he wouldn't speak either.


At the police station Mullin sulked and refused to talk -- even routine questions such as "do you have an attorney?" or "would you like to make a phone call?" met with Mullin's loud reply of "Silence!" He continued to chant the word "silence" until everyone had had enough. Frustrated investigators ordered him to his cell. As they took him away, Mullin announced, "you people were responsible for the three million killed in World War II."

The doctor at the police station who examined Mullin was surprised by the garish tattoos on his belly -- "LEGALIZE ACID" and "Eagle Eyes Marijuana." Other tattoos read "birth," "Mahashamadhi," and "Kriya Yoga." Strange tattoos for someone who appeared so clean cut and hated hippies with a passion.

At his sparse apartment, where Mullin had lived for the last three weeks, police found a Bible, the paperback book Einstein -- The Life and Times, an address book with Gianera listed, and newspaper articles about the recent murders. The revolver had been discovered in his station wagon, and ballistic tests were soon underway.

They also found the following note:

Let it be known to the nations of earth and the people that inhabit it, this document carries more power than any other written before. Such a tragedy as what has happened should not have happened and because of this action which I take of my own free will I am making it possible to occur again. For while I can be here I must guide and protect my dynasty.

Like the thick morning fog, speculation rolled through the Santa Cruz valley. Was this diminutive young man the same guy who was beheading hitchhikers? The day following his arrest, officials announced that ballistics proved that Mullin had also killed the Francis family and the Gianeras. Those who knew the 25 year-old Mullin remembered him as bright, deeply religious, but somewhat uptight. But he had fallen into heavy drug use, and "blew his mind."

Another killer?

Mullin was charged with six counts of murder. The count rose to ten after the bodies of the campers were discovered two days later on February 17. Bodies seemed to be turning up on a daily basis. But now that they had a suspect in custody, Santa Cruz authorities looked at the recent unsolved murders, hoping to tie them to Mullin. Investigators compared Mary Guilfoyle's skeleton with the remains of other women found. Los Gatos authorities submitted the fingerprints found at the church where Father Tomei was stabbed to death. Reporters clamored for to know if it was the same killer.

District Attorney Peter Chang, with some resignation, said, "We must be the murder capital of the world right now." When asked why the murder rate in Santa Cruz was so high, Chang said, "First, we've had a homicidal maniac whom we know has killed ten people." After a reporter asked about the additional five bodies of female hitchhikers, Chang grimly responded, "We then have another homicidal maniac."

As much as they would have liked to tie all of the murders to Herb Mullin, there was no evidence that linked him to the murdered coeds. The "skillfulness" of the decapitations of two women found on February 15, the same day as Mullin's arraignment, convinced investigators that another killer was working the area. Mullin's murders were not as anatomically precise or obsessive. Although Mary Guilfoyle was similar to the other killer's victim profile, she was not decapitated or dismembered. For now, there were no links between Guilfoyle and the other unidentified serial killer currently prowling the area.

People flipping out

Authorities tried to calm the public by playing up the drug dealer connection between Mullin and his victims. Gianera and Francis were known dealers, and the camping teenagers were described as "flower-children." The campers might have been the victims of a drug deal gone bad. Tying the elder, conservative Perez to "drug culture devotee" Mullin was more difficult, but they found a way -- Perez had a grandson who did drugs, who was close to Mullin's age. Maybe they had a falling out. "This is the result of people flipping out, and people taking drugs, and people doing their own thing," said D. A. Chang. Homeowners who were terrified by the Ohta slayings in 1970 could relax. These murders were a counter-cultural byproduct, not a menace to the good citizens of Santa Cruz.

But the court would soon see that drugs alone could not account for Mullin's bizarre behavior.

Diminished Capacity

"It looks like he is going to make my job easy." -- District Attorney Chang on Mullin's courtroom antics

Mullin was charged with ten counts of murder (he had not yet been charged with killing Lawrence White, Father Henri Tomei, or Mary Guilfoyle, his first three victims.) At his hearing on March 1, Mullin carried in a two volume legal book, and startled the court by trying to plead "guilty." But the judge refused to accept a guilty plea in a case of such magnitude. "I won't accept that," Mullin replied. "You gave me a choice and I chose."

When his lawyer tried to intervene, Mullin said, in his clipped manner of speech, "I refuse counsel." He later insisted again on representing himself.

Public Defender James Jackson with Herbert Mullin. Courtroom sketch by Don Juhlin (Donald Lunde, Murder and Madness)

When the judge refused, Mullin said, pointing to his lawyer, James Jackson, "I don't care to be represented by a longhair."

The judge tried to assure Mullin of Jackson's competency, despite the fact that his bushy hair was a little over the collar. (James Jackson, who had been Frazier's defender, would later represent Edmund Kemper.)

"In that case, I plead guilty to ten counts of first-degree murder." Back to square one. Mullin was furious that he couldn't represent himself. The judge was quickly losing patience with Mullin, and the trial hadn't even started. He seriously doubted Mullin's competence to stand trial. D. A. Chang said, "You can't just hand a guy a complaint and let him plead guilty to ten counts of first degree murder. It we let him plead guilty, we would be thrown out on our ear by the Supreme Court."

Psychiatrists were called in to examine Mullin. It was unanimous -- Herbert William Mullin was a paranoid schizophrenic. Typically, schizophrenics (Greek for "split" and "mind") suffer from auditory hallucinations (hearing voices), fragmented thinking ,and delusional belief systems of self-importance, including being psychic. Despite rational evidence proving otherwise, a schizophrenic will be convinced that there is a grand conspiracy against them, so huge it can span from the FBI to intergalactic UFO's. Mullin's extensive hospital records, along with his one-on-one examinations with the doctors, convinced everyone that he was seriously mentally ill.

Everyone agreed that Mullin killed at least ten people. The trial would determine whether he was legally insane when he did it. Legally speaking, insanity is determined by the McNaughton standard, which says that if a defendant understood the difference between right and wrong, then the defendant was guilty. If a defendant makes an attempt to conceal the crime, this can be taken as evidence that the defendant knew it was wrong. If Mullin was found legally insane, then he would be considered not guilty. Therefore, any actions Mullin took to hide what he did would be closely examined.

Also at issue was the notion of "diminished capacity." If Mullin did not understand the meaning of his actions, he could not be found guilty of first degree murder. His defense knew that "diminished capacity" was crucial to prove, and constructed their case on Mullin's weird doctrines of dementia.

Mullin sat in his jail cell, ceaselessly scribbled out his philosophies, convinced he could explain the grand design behind his killing. He wrote on Jonah, Einstein, and earthquakes. These delusional belief systems would support his case, but not for the reasons in which he hoped. These bizarre notes would provide important evidence for the defense in attempting to prove his insanity.

Serial Killer Rivalry

"Yes, judging from my years in Atascadero, I would say he is mentally ill." -- "Coed Killer" Edmund Kemper's evaluation of Mullin

While waiting for trial, Mullin came face to face with the other "homicidal maniac" who had been terrorizing Santa Cruz, Edmund Emil Kemper III. After a murderous bender in April 1973, when he dismembered his mother and her friend, he drove nonstop to Colorado. After being disappointed that there wasn't a national manhunt out for him, he stopped at a payphone called Santa Cruz police to confess that he was the notorious "Coed Killer." Finally, after repeated calls, they sent officers to the phone booth, where he was patiently waiting.

Someone thought it would be amusing to give Kemper and Mullin adjoining cells. The two mass murderers mixed like fire and brimstone. At 6' 9", Kemper towered over the petite Mullin, and hassled him in any way he could. Kemper boasted of his power over Mullin: "Well, [Mullin] had a habit of singing and bothering people when somebody tried to watch TV. So I threw water on him to shut him up. Then, when he was a good boy, I'd give him some peanuts. Herbie liked peanuts. That was effective, because pretty soon he asked permission to sing. That's called behavior modification treatment." He also called Mullin a "creep with no class," and offered to rat on Mullin if he heard him say anything incriminating. In return, Mullin was disgusted by Kemper, and complained constantly about the noise when he was trying to meditate.

Both Mullin and Kemper viewed their own killing rampages as missions, and thought the other was a heathen. Mullin killed to save the world from earthquakes, and despised Kemper as a brutish sex maniac. In turn, Kemper said that Mullin "was just a cold-blooded killer . . . killing everyone he saw for no good reason." Kemper thought he was the one with the social statement, making a "demonstration to the authorities of Santa Cruz" by killing the young women society treasured the most. Together, the lumbering Kemper and diminutive Mullin must have looked like the Laurel and Hardy of multiple murder.

Kemper is well-known for his mother issues. Mullin, on the other hand, was transfixed by his father. Killing a Catholic Father, and a retired war veteran might be considered displaced aggravation against his own parent. He insisted that his father, Martin William Mullin, was a mass murderer. "I want his fingerprints to be taken and compared with all murders which occurred in California and Oregon since 1925," he demanded. In addition to being responsible for all murders on the West Coast since the twenties, Herb also believed that his father telepathically ordered Dean Richardson to commit suicide by crashing his car in 1965.

The Die Song Explained

"We human beings, through the history of the world, have protected our continent from cataclysms by murder. In other words, a minor natural disaster avoids a major natural disaster." -- Herb Mullin

Herb Mullin's trial began July 30, 1973, with the now predictable disruptions and objections by the defendant. The formal plea had been entered as "not guilty, and not guilty by reason of insanity." On the second day, the shackled Mullin interrupted the proceedings by hobbling over to the judge and handing him a "spacey" note, entitled "Observations of an Observer from a Point on the San Francisco Peninsula," a two-page rant claiming that someone had been going through his personal notebook.

"Stark raving mad"

"Make no mistake. Mr. Mullin hears voices, and the voices told him to kill," said defense attorney James. "These were not acts of murder, but acts of sacrifice." Jackson focused on Mullin's bizarre behavior before the murder spree. Mullin thought he was a Mexican laborer, columnist Herb Caen, and an eastern philosopher. Jackson then dramatically introduced his client's "Kill-joy sadism" conspiracy theory. Everyone in Mullin's life was out to destroy his chances for happiness, both in this life and the next. He had to kill them.

Herbert Mullin takes the stand. Courtroom sketch by Don Juhlin (Donald Lunde, Murder and Madness)

The courtroom fixated their attention on the scowling, dark-haired Mullin, as he rocked back and forth slowly in his chair. He showed little emotion through the course of the trial, staring straight ahead at the wall when witnesses testified. Mullin was annoyed that his defense was intent on proving insanity -- he couldn't wait to get on the stand himself, and tell them the truth of why he killed.

The prosecution was brief. Bob Francis testified on Mullin's voracious consumption of LSD. Weirdly, Mullin nodded his head in agreement as Francis talked, as if it proved the necessity to kill Gianera. Joan Gianera's mother recalled finding the young married couple shot to death in the bathroom. Ballistics experts and medical examiners portrayed for the jury the extent of Mullin's violent overkill, while Mullin hunched over, taking extensive notes.

The "Die Song"

On August 4, psychiatrist Donald Lunde testified on behalf of the defense to Mullin's clinical diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, and played a cassette where Mullin described his philosophy:

You see, the thing is, people get together, say, in the White House. People like to sing the die song, you know, people like to sing the die song. If I am president of my class when I graduate from high school, I can tell two, possibly three young male Homo sapiens to die. I can sing that song to them and they'll have to kill themselves or be killed -- an automobile accident, a knifing, a gunshot wound. You ask me why this is? And I say, well, they have to do that in order to protect the ground from an earthquake, because all of the other people in the community had been dying all year long, and my class, we have to chip in so to speak to the darkness, we have to die also. And people would rather sing the die song than murder.

I believe man has believed in reincarnation for maybe, consciously, verbally, for ten thousand years. And so they instituted this law . . . they used to do it back then, ten thousand years ago. . . . Well, they let a guy go kill crazy, you know, he'd go kill crazy maybe twenty or thirty people. Then they'd lynch him, you know, or they'd have another kill crazy person kill him. Because they don't want him to get too powerful in the next life, you know. . .

"He told me," Lunde later wrote in his book The Die Song, "that if I would prepare a chronology of the world's wars and famines and compare it with a list of major earthquakes throughout history, I would see that when the death rate goes up, the number of earthquakes goes down."

The Jonah theory

Mullin believed that the duty of sacrificing yourself or others (by murder) for the sake of the community was best demonstrated by his interpretation of Jonah. The thirteenth man must be a scapegoat and sacrifice himself for the others:

I mean . . . you read in the Bible about Jonah -- there was twelve men in the boat -- Jonah was in the boat, you know, it was just like Jesus you know, and Jonah stood up and said, 'God darn! If somebody doesn't die, you know all thirteen of us are going to die. And he jumped overboard, you know, and he was drowned, you know. And the sea . . . about in a half hour or so, it calmed down.

When Dr. Lunde said that Jonah was pushed, and didn't die after all because he was spit up by the whale, Mullin responded defensively, "I'm asking you to swallow this Jonah story and believe that a minor natural disaster will prevent a major natural disaster."


Did Mullin come up with the "killing to stop earthquakes" theory before or after he was caught? Dr. Donald Lunde said that Mullin devised this theory years earlier, citing Mullin's letters written to the UN and other organizations, requesting statistics on yearly death tolls and natural disasters. Among his personal

notes were disjointed theories on the phenomenon. Because Mullin was born on April 18th, the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, he believed he had a privileged position among his generation to save it from future earthquakes. Einstein died on April 18th, which proved (to Mullin) that Einstein sacrificed himself so that Mullin would not have to be killed in Vietnam, but could save the coast from earthquakes instead. "It's grandiose," said Dr. Lunde.

Repressed sexuality

Another conspiracy, Mullin argued, was his family's attempt to hide "the healthiness of bisexuality" from him. He said that for most, homosexual behavior begins around the age of eight. But his parents maliciously hid this from him. Mullin speculated that everyone in his family practiced homosexuality. He wrote that his entire family, including his aunt and uncle, Bernice and Enos, were in on the plot to retard his sexuality:

When I was five years old I feel intuitively that Bernice and Enos Fouratt talked my parents into ignoring me. My parents actually did not tell me the necessary facts of life, sex and death rate, social conversation techniques, etc. Bernice and Enos did not have any children.

Why did Bernice and Enos convince my parents that I should be shunned? My guess is that my cousins and sister were having orgasms at age six. When I was five Bernice and Enos wanted to stop my mental and physical growth. They did not want me to mature.


. . . I think they were jealous and envious of the fun and I and my parents were going to have when I started to grow up normal. I think they believe in reincarnation and that by confusing and retarding me they might improve themselves in the next life.

Lunde testified about details of Mullin's homosexuality, which at one point Mullin interrupted, in attorney-like fashion, and said, "I'll stipulate that I'm bisexual."

Father Drove Me Kill Crazy

"My father told me he would kill a person in the next life if they associated with me." -- Herb Mullin

Both the prosecution and defense looked at William Martin Mullin as a reason behind the murders, but with drastic differences in the level of responsibility. The prosecution blamed Mullin's intense hatred of his father, while Herb Mullin blamed his father directly for the murders. He was the murderer, as far as Herb was concerned, because he was "telepathically" issuing the kill-commands to his son. William Mullin was a Marine, who was proud of his World War II service, and according to Herb, taught his son that violence is "natural," and taught him how to shoot a gun with the aim of a marksman.

It is hard to know the extent of William Mullin's rational influence over his son. It is not a crime to tell your son war stories, or to teach him to how to handle a gun. Perhaps William Mullin was attempting to engage his child in the events in his life that rendered the most meaning, which can be true for many war heroes. And the boxing matches in the kitchen had seemed to be no more than a little playful roughhousing before dinner. But for Herb, these gestures were intimidating. He thought his father was challenging him.

Boxing with father

After Herb's experience in the ring, he returned to his father's house, a month before the murders began. He cornered his father with his fists up: "Come on, let's go, it won't last long." Herb punched his father out. "It scared me," the elder Mullin told Dr. Lunde. "It was such a departure from what we had normally done all our lives . . . He was not the same kid we had raised and known."

Herb's father appeared to be a stoic, stern, but reasonable man. William Mullin even wrote a letter supporting Herb's CO status, which must have greatly upset him. Later Herb wrote to his dad: "My conscientious objection thing was against your will. Well, that is past now. I don't know who was right or who was wrong. All I know is that I got hurt real bad because of all the confusion. Would you let me live in your home again?" But at the trial, Mullin blamed his father for sending him to San Jose State University, knowing that the anti-war movement was strong on the campus and he somehow wanted to trick his son into falling in with the counter-culture.

Herb was caught in an spiral of rebellion and reconciliation with his father, doing things that hurt him, then trying to win back his approval. One psychiatrist, in his testimony for the prosecution, said that Mullin's "inability to express hate to his father led to some of it being misdirected to others."

"Father was a Marine Corps sergeant and was used to ordering people to kill," said Herb. "I feel I was under my father's control, like a robot." Throughout the trial he asked Dr. Lunde and his attorney to compare the his father's fingerprints to evidence from all the murder cases in Oregon and California since 1925. If Herb could prove his father was a mass murderer, perhaps they would go lighter on him.

Mullin takes the stand

On the stand in his own defense, Mullin was described by one reporter as "striking a lecturer's pose." He stood in the witness box with his many notes, and blamed his family, friends, and teachers who wanted to keep him from becoming "too powerful in the next life." Reincarnation wasn't just a cosmic ponderance -- for Mullin, it explained everything. Everyone was bargaining for power and position in the next life.

"I am chosen as a designated leader of my generation," he said, because Einstein died on his birthday. This birthday also "gives me an extremely dominant position in the reincarnation." He believed that his parents told him that "they were going to give me a good time in the next life but they couldn't this time."

"One man consenting to be murdered protects the millions of other human beings living in the cataclysmic earthquake/tidal area. For this reason, the designated hero/leader and associates have the responsibilities of getting enough people to commit suicide and/or consent to being murdered every day," Herb Mullin explained to the jury.

As far as his victims go, Mullin said, "I never thought about them. I wasn't thinking, I don't think. I was reacting." He claimed his victims consented to die, in fact were willing to die, and told him so by psychic transmissions. "Every homosapien communicates by mental telepathy. . . It's just not accepted socially," he said.

He blamed his father, and asked that he be removed from the courtroom before he continued his testimony, but the judge refused. But his the elder Mullin was moved so that his son wouldn't have to look at him.

He also blamed the Santa Cruz police for not keeping him incarcerated after he was arrested for drug possession. "I never would have killed anyone if they sent me to jail. If they don't punish you for breaking the law, what were they doing? Waiting until I broke a big law so they could put me in prison all my life?"

Disobeying Commands:

Mullin admitted that he could, and did disobey commands to kill. He had received telepathic commands to commit suicide, but refused. "If he was the victim of irresistible voices, he would have killed himself," said prosecutor Chris Cottle.

He said that he ignored messages to kill. "I received a message in December I did not act on. I just didn't want to kill anymore -- I just didn't think it was right." This last statement was crucial to the prosecutions case against Mullin. He was admitting he knew the difference between right and wrong. He was not his father's "robot," powerless to disobey, as he had previously said.

He was capable of selectively obeying his father's messages to kill. When he heard his father tell him to kill his uncle Enos, Mullin refused, and the voice then suggested an alternative victim. For all the fearful wrath Mullin associated with these telepathic commands, they were surprisingly reasonable and willing to negotiate.

Mentally Ill, but Sane?

Prosecution's case

If Mullin was legally insane, and did not comprehend what he was doing was wrong, then why did he take such careful measures to cover his tracks? Assistant D. A. Chris Cottle told the jury that after killing White, he sandpapered the blood stains off of the baseball bat. He picked up the shell casings at the Gianera house, he claimed, "because they belonged to me." Mullin shot Francis and her kids because they were witnesses. He ground off the serial number on his .22 caliber gun. While the prosecutor presented his case, Mullin, who usually avoided looking at anyone in the court, glared at Cottle.

But Mullin had already undermined his case with reckless comments. Sometimes he sounded coolly sane and rational. In an earlier interview, Mullin said that he killed Joan Gianera because "she was a witness and I didn't want to be punished."

The quake theory was "developed as an afterthought," according to one court-appointed psychiatrist who had examined Mullin. He killed Gianera for getting him into drugs, and Joan, Kathy and Daemon and David because they were witnesses. He killed the campers because "he had a thing about hippies, an he described them as hippies." Another court-appointed psychiatrist said that his motivation was pure hatred. "He told me John Gianera introduced him to LSD, and that ruined his life and he took revenge."

In a strange split, Dr. Charles Morris testified that after examining Mullin, he concluded that he was legally insane when he murder the transient, the hitchhiker, and the priest, but legally sane during the last ten murders. In January, when he quit doing LSD in hopes of becoming a Marine, Mullin killed out of revenge (with the exception of Perez). He had been made morally numb by killing his first three victims, so that killing again, especially out of anger, no longer carried moral consequences. Perez was shot, he argued, because Mullin was tired and wanted to get caught.

Dr. Morris contended that it was probably LSD that precipitated the murders. In response, defense attorney Jackson read a note from Mullin, and asked the doctor if the rambling was written by someone on drugs.

The doctor acknowledged that it was possible. The note was dated July 1973, months after Mullin had been incarcerated. It was a complaint, written to the judge by Mullin regarding court procedure.

Mullin's claim that he heard the victims telepathically agree to be killed, said Dr. Morris, was a concocted rationalization. "He developed this belief as an afterthought," he said, and wasn't surprised by Mullin's cosmic sacrificial excuses. "He's an individual with a high mental capacity and an interest in the occult, psychology, and philosophy."

One doctor testified that Mullin told him, "I chose to be vindictive (because these people) caused me to be an objector in the greatest country on earth, so I punished them."

Legal Insanity

There was no question that Mullin was mentally ill. To prove the legal definition of insanity, the defense had to demonstrate that Mullin did not know the difference between right and wrong at the time of the murders. If he was found legally insane, then he would be found not guilty by the jury. If the jury found that Mullin was suffering from "diminished capacity," in that he did not understand the meaning of his actions, he could not be found guilty of first degree murder. The prosecution told the jury it did not matter "why" Mullin killed. Motives are ambiguous, and not necessary to prove. In countering the defense's theory that Mullin's delusions made him kill, the prosecution said, "simply because two plus two equals seven (in his mind) does not mean Mr. Mullin is not responsible for his acts."

In closing, the defense asked the jury to consider the fact that Mullin "kills people because he has to but he doesn't know why. I suggest that a person who kills thirteen people and doesn't know why . . . is MAD!"

The prosecution told the jury, "There's no question he's mentally ill, seriously mentally ill. But that does not mean he's legally insane." He hid his crimes, and even ground down the serial numbers on his gun.


The six man, six women jury deliberated for over fourteen hours, finding Mullin sane and guilty. The verdict was delivered on August 19th, 1973. Mullin premeditated the deaths of Jim Gianera and Kathy Francis, thereby making two counts of first degree murder. The rest were considered "impulse" by the jury, therefore second degree murder.

"It's as insane as Mullin is," said his defense attorney Jackson. "They were afraid because he might get out and kill somebody -- which is not an illogical consideration. They didn't want his fourteenth victim to be one of them." The prosecution was disappointed with only two counts of first degree murder. Mullin only shrugged when he heard his verdict. Mullin was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole in 2025.

But Mullin's case didn't sit right with the jury foreman. He soon took action.


The primary resources for this article were the Santa Cruz Sentinel and the San Francisco Chronicle, dated between February 1973 and August 1973.

King, Brian. Lustmord: The Writings and Artifacts of Murderers. Burbank: Bloat Books, 1990

(This book has a preface written by Herb Mullin, and includes some of his letters and drawings.)

Lunde, Donald, and Jefferson Morgan. The Die Song. New York: Norton Books, 1980. (Out of print)

Lunde, Donald. Murder and Madness. New York: Norton Books, 1975. (Out of print)



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