Village Murders – Frenzy Times Five

NEW YORK: The state’s Gay Activist’s Alliance helped New York cops after a series of five murders in the Greenwich Village area. The carbon-copy killings are said to follow the pattern described in a novel about a man who makes a habit of murdering gays.

When it was found that five men had died in this rash of brutal killing, three 24-hour hot-lines were opened – one by the police, one by the GAA and one by the Mattachine Society, the US homosexual law reform society – all appealing for information about the killer or killers of the five gays.

The city’s Village Voice put together an account of the slayings ‘from innumerable telephone calls and visits to the Homicide Bureau, calls on the Village leather and gay waterfront bars, discussions with bartenders, managers, customers, and a day at the GAA switchboard.

Victim No 1: Jose Ronnie Cabo, called Pepe by his friends … stabbed ten times, head gashed, Cabo’s nude body was found on a closed sofa convertible that went up in flames on January 4. Cabo had four Maltese dogs. Two died in the fire, two were saved.

‘Jose Cabo was a hairdresser with a receding hairline. Conscientious about his appearance, he wore a hairpiece, was about five feet eight inches tall, weighed 145 lbs, somewhat effeminate in manner. He came to New York from Havanna 11 years ago, joined the army, served at Fort Dix, worked as an Eastern Airlines steward between New York and Miami, frequented the waterfront bars and occasionally went to the trucks. (Lately there have been increased incidents of robberies and muggings at the trucks. Regulars report a knifing on January 12 which may not be linked with the homicides.)

Jose Ronnie Cabo, stabbed 10 times.

Seen In Bars

It’s been established that on the night of the murder, Cabo stopped of at his two favourite bars: Danny’s on Christopher Street and Peter Rabbit on West 10th near the river. Both bars are owned by Joe Nieri. An acquaintance claims Cabo was also at the Roadhouse and was seen there at 2am talking to a tall blonde who wore a knit seaman’s cap. Cabo had been drinking.

Victims No 2 and 3: Donald McNiven, 41, and John Beardsley, 53. Victims maintained adjacent apartments. Bodies found on floor of MacNiven’s living room, Macniven stabbed 51 times. Beardsley stabbed 30 times. Both bodies badly burned. Police claim Beardsley’s underpants were charred. MacNiven was wearing tiny undershorts at the time of his assassination.

‘Beardsley was a graduate of Harvard, had a PhD and was listed in both the New York and Philadelphia social registers. He tutored, wrote a couple of books, worked for a short time at a publishing house – the same firm where MacNiven worked as a statistical clerk prior to his death. Beardsley, according to Homicide, liked to go to the better gay bars; MacNiven was a heavy drinker and preferred the raunchier places. Like Cabo, he frequented Danny’s and Peter Rabbit. He also liked the trucks.

Donald MacNiven, stabbed 51 times.

‘Early on the day of the murders, MacNiven was seen drinking at Danny’s. Tipsy, he returned to his building and had a few more with his neighbour, Beardsley, then left at about 11 pm. Beardsley remained at home. Police are eager to know McNiven’s activities between 11 pm and 7am, at which time a neighbour heard scuffling, and a new voice, described as “strong and groggy and definitely not New York, but I can’t place the accent.” Later still, that neighbour smelled smoke in the hallway. He called the Fire Department. Shortly after, MacNiven and Beardsley’s bloody, smouldering bodies were found.

John Beardsley, stabbed 30 times.

‘The Medical Examiner claims that MacNiven had a high alcoholic content at the time of his death. Detectives are checking out names in Beardsley’s address book. They include European royalty and New York cultural figures.

Victim No 4: Robben Borrero, 23, body fished out from the river at the Morton Street pier, approximately 1 pm January 17. According to Dr Rho, who performed the autopsy, there had been no obvious evidence of a violent nature, no gunshot wounds, knife wounds or strangulation. The body had been dead for a month to five weeks. Robben had been reported missing by his mother a week before the Christmas holidays. Police are to investigate further They claim there is no connection between the three murders and Borrero’s drowning.

Robben Borrero, fished from the river.

Robben Borrero was an early member of the Gay Liberation Front. At one time he was with a gay consciousness-raising group, belonged to the Gay Community Group at Queen’s College (members say he showed up sporadically for meetings), and was vice-president of Homosexuals Intransigent, a Village gay group.

Somewhat Self-Destructive

‘According to Craig Schoomaker, president of the latter group and one-time roommate of Borrero, “Robben was somewhat self-destructive, but he wasn’t the kind of person who’d kill himself.” The director of Borrero’s City Hospital therapy group agrees, “Robben seemed to be in control.”

‘During the last few months, Robben Borrero had been living, on and off, with a lover in a small apartment over the One Potato restaurant at Hudson and West 10th. His lover, a Christopher Street fixture during the summer, had spent time in a Florida State mental hospital. He was released last May and Robben sent him the money to return to New York.

Major Tranquilliser

‘The lover was on Thorazine, a major tranquilliser used primarily for schizophrenia. According to Robben’s therapist, the lover was a “tall blonde, over six feet, much bigger than Robben. He had been violent with Robben many times, destroying things like Robben’s paintings.”

‘Physically, Robben was built like Jose Cabo. He was about five feet seven inches tall, weighed about 135lbs, had black hair. Both Jose Cabo and Robben Borrero were beardless and of Hispanic origin.

Victim No 5: Robert Koleda, 27 years old, body discovered floating in water near Pier 66, 26th Street and waterfront, about 5 pm, January 17. The person who discovered Koleda was walking his dog when he “noticed the top of a head and a white ear.” He phoned the police and the Mattachine Society.

“No Connection”

‘Koleda had been in the water four or five days. Detectives claim he had no gay history and there was no connection to the gay murders. Also that Koleda had a history of mental disturbance, there was no apparent violence and he was a drowning victim.’

The Village Voice seems to be the only US paper to have treated the rash of gay slayings with the seriousness it deserves. In another story it reported that Robben Borrero had been found wearing leather with a chain around his neck.

One theory that police started working on was that the killings were the work of one man with a grudge against gays, as the pattern of the murders seems to follow a novel of gay murders which is a village best-seller.

To quote: ‘Some details of the book, called Cruising by Gerald Walker, differ from the real-life account of the homicides. But the fact meets the fiction on several key points.

‘For example, the killer, who is portrayed as a man who hated homosexuals, finds his victims by picking them up in Greenwich Village gay bars and being invited to their homes.

Stabbed and Naked

‘And the victims are later found naked, dead of multiple stab wounds.

‘“We’ve gotten all kinds of tips” said a homicide detective. “This seems no more far-fetched than the rest. Maybe some lunatic would be impressionable enough to be influenced by a thing like this.”

‘The book was discussed in a December 28 Village Voice article – only a few days before the first homicide was discovered.

‘While Cruising is not found on the shelves of most bookstores, the homosexual shops of the Village say the book has been their number one best-seller over the past year. “We’ve sold so many it’s hard to keep it in stock,” said the proprietor of the Legend Gallery at Charles Street and 7th Avenue. “What Portnoy’s Complaint was to middle-class Jews, Cruising has been to the gay community. It’s about the fears we all live with.”’

This is just one lead homicide squad detectives are following up.

Another lead is this: several gays have come forward and told police they have been “brutalised”. Each witness gave an identical description of the man who’d assaulted them.

Another Pair Slain

Days later another pair of men were found dead in their plush Brooklyn apartment.

The VV reported: ‘The men, found Saturday afternoon with their feet and hands tied behind their backs with rope, shared the one-bedroom cooperative apartment in Henry Street for nearly a year.

‘The apartment was owned by Nelson Roberts, a 32-year-old teacher. He shared it with Lance Raiford, a 23-year-old senior at Queen’s College.’

Where Were They?

Police say it is possible that the men met their murderer or murderers on Friday night and were returning to the apartment together. Detectives hope they will find out where the men spent their last hours and thus link them to the killer.

‘Despite some similarities in the deaths,, police say at this point, there is no connection between the Brooklyn slayings and the murder of homosexuals in the Village recently.

Police were called to the Henry Street apartment block after loud music had been playing all night, annoying the neighbours.

Inside the 30th-floor apartment, which commanded Manhattan’s East Side, police found the two bodies. Nelson, clad only in his undershorts was lying on a bed, his head wedged between the mattress and the head-board. His neck was broken. On the living room floor, wearing dungarees and a white T-shirt, was Lance. He had been stabbed once at the base of the spine.

Cruising In Britain

The controversial book, Cruising, which may have served as a scenario for at least some of these slayings, is on sale in Britain, published by Lord Thomson’s Sphere Books.

Sphere Books, the British publishers of Cruising, the novel said to be the scenario for the Village gay murders, report that they have sold only 14,500 copies of the book since August.

A spokesman said: “It may be a bestseller in the States, but it doesn’t seem to have hit Britain in a big way at all.”

The only mention of the Village murders in the British press so far has been in the Evening Gazette, Colchester, which treated the story with a rather tasteless headline: “Police Go Gay In Hunt For Knife Maniac”

The Evening Gazette reported that ‘ten detectives are posing as homosexuals in the ‘gay’ bars, bookshops and cinemas of New York’s Greenwich Village in an effort to find the killer.’

“They Have So Many Friends”

Meanwhile in New York one of the detectives in charge of the gay slayings case told the New York Times’ “Homosexual homicides are always tough because they have so many friends.”

Lieutenant James Skennion continued: “We’ve asked for the homosexuals’ cooperation and we’re getting it, although some have over-reacted. If we can get information, we don’t particularly care about their feelings.”

L A Gets Gay Synagogue

LOS ANGELES: A synagogue for gay men and women has been founded here, it has been disclosed.

The Metropolitan Community, believed to be the first of its kind, generally follows the liberal ritual, and is now a year old.

In that time it has gained 60 members, and instituted regular study sessions. Last autumn it welcomed more than 175 gays for its High Holyday services.

Liberal Rabbi

Rabbi Erwin Herman, the regional director of the (liberal) Union of American Hebrew Congregations, who encouraged the establishment of the synagogue told our reporter: “The congregation came about because of a yearning by these people to form an organised Jewish worship group.”

Pow-wow With TV Chiefs

NEW YORK: The Gay Activists’ Alliance has written a letter to the three US television network Standards and Practices Committees, asking for a meeting to discuss, with reference to codes of practice, the recent rash of anti-homosexual remarks, jokes and characterisations on the networks.

Signed by the alliance president Bruce Voeller, the letter charges that the practices chieftains have not been ensuring that shows ‘contain no slighting or offensive references to minority groups’.

The letter says: ‘We have no objections … to humorous remarks or skits dealing with homosexuality and depiction of homosexual characters on television … But sniggering “fag” and “dyke” jokes won’t do nor will the suggestion that the mere fact of homosexuality is hilarious. In short, we do not object to jokes that deal with our lives – but our lives themselves are not a joke!’

The alliance has cited as acceptable the sketches on the Burns and Schreiber comedy specials (ABC television) dealing with a homosexual son and his father and a homosexual drunk at a bar asking a heterosexual couple what they do sexually. Also, a bit on the Mary Tyler Moore segment in which two women are after the same man, who, it turns out to the great relief of one of the smitten, turns out to be gay.

Fifth Formers Defend Gays

BIRMINGHAM: Fifth-formers have come out strongly on the side of Birmingham Gay Liberation Front members whose educational visit to their school has been mauled by the local and national press.

Halfway through December a party of five gays from Birmingham GLF went to Coleshill Comprehensive School in Warwickshire as part of a school conference on sex education. At the time the visit seemed to go smoothly, no one was worried, shocked, assaulted. Instead the GLF members met a lot of school-kids and put over the problems gays face and the theories of gay liberation.

Paper Tigers

Then Birmingham GLF published their newssheet. A copy went to the Birmingham Post and Mail group.

The next thing the gays knew was that they had scandalised parents by going to the school, according to the Birmingham papers.

Then the national papers picked up the story, and as queer-bashing in print is a Fleet Street hobby, the papers invented a ‘row’ over the sex talk.

That was something that neither Birmingham GLF nor the school knew anything about.

A spokesman for Birmingham GLF told Gay News: “There was no particular response from the school until this week.

“It seems that everything has been stirred up by the local papers. The Birmingham Post got hold of a copy and as far as we know phoned up parents and said ‘Isn’t this shocking?’ just to get a story.

Girls Take More Interest

“We were just part of a conference on sex education. For some reason the girls seemed far more interested in what we were saying than the boys.

“Now the fifth formers have rung up the newspaper and told them that they weren’t corrupted in any way by meeting us. We’re glad the kids are backing us. We’re also grateful to the school for their backing.”

Mr Thomas Wilson told the Daily Telegraph: “I was not aware of any row and have received no complaints from parents.

Positive Help

“I thought it was a risk to invite a homosexual speaker, but it turned out to be of positive help to the pupils to understand better the problems homosexuals have to face.”

Mr Dennis Prosser, a retired magistrate and chairman of the school’s governors told The Times he’d not known the gays were attending the sex-ed conference until afterwards. But, he said, “If you are going to have a talk on homosexuality, it is better to get someone who can talk with authority.”

Parents had been sent a letter telling them what was going to happen at the conference and that they could deny their children the right to hear all or any of the speakers.

All Aspects Of Sex

Mr Wilson went on to say that the pupils had asked the school to arrange the conference to reflect all aspects of sex.

Meanwhile The Daily Express reported someone from Birmingham GLF as saying: “We don’t see what all the fuss is about.”

The secretary of the school’s parent-teacher association, Mr Louis Power admitted that he was “concerned” that gays should be allowed into the school.

He said: “I don’t complain about sex education itself. But there is no need to push homosexuality in front of youngsters so strongly.”

It’s Official

EDINBURGH: The Edinburgh University Senatus has now voted to recognise the Teach-In on Homosexuality on March 8th as an official University event, and referred the question of financial support back to the Principal and Deans’ Committee, which previously rejected a request for assistance, has had to have second thoughts and has coughed up £50 of University money for the event. A cheerful Mike Coulson, one of the organisers of the Teach-In, said it had been a small but significant victory for working within the system – and in retrospect an enjoyable exercise in beating the establishment at its own game.

Death May Have Been Murder

LONDON: Police suspect that a Spanish waiter found strangled in a friend’s room may have been murdered. And they say, it’s hard to investigate the real cause of his death because he was “a homosexual (and) it is more difficult than usual to make enquiries. Everything is very secretive in homosexual circles.”

That’s what Inspector Robert Tapp told Westminster Coroner’s Court. Inspector Tapp also claimed: “The evidence clearly shows a homosexual tendency, and it is not unusual for these persons to be involved in fights.”

Open Verdict

The eight-man jury at the court returned an open verdict on Fransisco, who was found dead in South Kensington in the room of his waiter friend Juan. He had a white chiffon scarf and a yellow vest tied round his neck with a red workman’s lamp hooked over the ligature.

The Inspector said that for nearly 24 hours Fransisco’s body had remained undiscovered.

Through an interpreter, Juan told the court that Fransisco had spent the night with him the night before he is thought to have died.

Secretive Circles

The Inspector said: “Had he been in some other area that we know he frequented at times, we would have found some person who saw him going off with somebody.

“From 7.30 on the Saturday until his discovery (about 6 pm) the next day, we have found no person at all who saw him.”

For this he blamed “the very secretive homosexual circles”.

Suicide Suspected

The pathologist. Dr Michael Crompton, showed the jury the grubby and bloodstained ligature and showed how it had been tied.

He said it was possible that Fransisco had tied it himself.

End of the Affair

Juan, who said that his affair with Fransisco had ended in September, said £15 in cash, a rosary, and a mug were missing from his room. He added that Fransisco had been very depressed and had said he’d wished he were dead.

A police constable said broken beads, a broken paintbrush, a broken mirror and blood were found on the bed.

Dr Crompton said Fransisco’s face was bruised as if he’d been punched. His nose was broken and his face was slashed.

It was that that prompted Inspector Trapp to say: “It is not unusual for these persons to be involved in fights.”

Insufficient Evidence

Coroner Mr Gavin Thurston said: “This is a case in which we would not be justified in saying further than that there is insufficient evidence.”

The police are still investigating the case as a possible murder. Inspector Tapp told the Kensington Post.

Who’s Kidding Who: Ep. 3 – Star Turns

LONDON: The British press is taking great trouble to point out that popular musical entertainers are not gay.

Ray Connolly interviewed David Bowie, Brixton’s answer to Garbo — at least inasmuch as he won’t give interviews, according to his Mainman organisation. So Connolly’s interview with David Bowie appeared in the Evening Standard making the now obligatory statement that David is not a homosexual.

Mr Connolly, known for his accuracy, ascribed to David and his wife Angela a daughter aged 18 months called Zowie – last heard of as a son in Newsweek.

Photograph: Allan Warren, Camera Press London
Next day Tony Palmer, the former pop-writer got it on for the mums and gave us the low-down on Liberace’s life.

Mr Palmer, who just happened to mention that he’s spent the last four months making a documentary about Mr Liberace – a property he obviously has an interest in selling – confided to readers of The Observer “Contrary to gossip, he is not lonely nor oppressed by his mother. His taste is controlled, even demure … He is not a homosexual …”

Above and around Mr Palmer’s effusions about Liberace’s ‘demure’ taste were pictures of Liberace’s chintz and tinsel Hollywood home, with the Star posing just off centre in electric blue lounging clothes.

Young Hustlers Upset School Chiefs

COLUMBUS: Here in Georgia, homosexuality and gay hustling in this city’s 40,000-student public school system, has educators and city bosses “worried” and “concerned”. One local school cites the case of ‘Johnny Smith’, a 13-year-old, as an example of the ‘problem’.

The school’s head calls Johnny a “discipline problem” who has already been held back a year in school and, the head says, Johnny has a juvenile court record.

“They Have Nice Houses”

The school’s head called Johnny into his office. The boy is small and blonde. He was dirty because he’d just finished a game of basketball on the school play-ground.

Johnny said he first “went down to the church” with his older brothers and some other boys.

“You just sit down by the church, and men come by and pick you up and they take you to their houses,” he said. “Some men are old, some young … they have nice houses.”

The school head said he first became aware of the kid-hustlers last year when he was leaving services at the downtown church on a week-night.

I came out of the church and I met one of my students,” he told this reporter. “He was pretty far away from home. I knew that corner. There’s only one reason that people would be down there.”

He said that the church was in the area of Twelfth Street between Sixth Avenue and Second Avenue. This section is also the site of the bus depot where soldiers from nearby Fort Benning arrive for a night on the town.

He said: “I called the boy into my office the next morning, and he admitted to me that he and other students nad been going down there for some time.”

$25 A Night

The school head went on incredulously to say that the boys later told him they could make between five dollars and 25 dollars a night by standing on the corner by the church and waiting to be picked up by gays.

The school head who told the boys’ parents also took two of them down to the police station to see detectives.

He reported “The parents’ reactions ranged from ‘there’s nothing I can do about it’ to ‘I can’t believe my son would do such a thing.”

He said the police were “very cooperative and tried to help. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to make an arrest in a case of this type.”

Money for Mum

Johnny spoke frankly and matter-of-factly.

The boy said he would often earn 25 dollars from a man if he would “do right”.

“I gave some of the money to momma,” he said.

Women Demand Human Rights

LONDON: Militancy isn’t a male prerogative. And women took to the streets in London to demand their rights as Tory MPs talked the Womens Rights Bill into the ground. Next day the CHE women were having their national conference in Manchester.

The Women’s Rights demonstrators were meeting at Caxton Hall and marching on the House of Commons bearing flaming torches.

Women hissed and jeered from the packed galleries of the House of Commons as Martin Maddon, the Tory MP from Hove talked the Bill out.

The Bill, a private member’s Bill (and therefore only discussed on Friday afternoons) has been tabled by Mr Will Hamilton, the Labour MP for Fife. It demands an end to lower wages for women and the introduction of equal opportunity for women in industry.

Women marching from the House of Commons to 10 Downing Street after the Anti Discrimination Bill had been “talked out”. Photographs: Serena Wadham

But it doesn’t go far enough. Mrs Ethel Chipchase, vice-chairman of the Trade Union Congress’s women’s advisory committee complains it’s a bill without teeth.

May Hobbs of the Night Cleanersn Union calling for action at Caxton Hall.

The Bill aims at making it illegal to advertise for an exmployee of either sex, just as it’s illegal now to advertise for someone who is or is not a certain colour.

The Caxton Hall rally supporting the Bill featured May Hobbs of the Night Cleaner’s Union and Audrey Wise, the Labour candidate for Coventry.

May Hobbs said once the Bill finally became law – after Martin Maddon has been persuaded to stop his bloody-minded histrionics – women’s equality will have to go on evolving and not become frozen by the law.

Audrey Wise warned: “Don’t be misled into thinking that equality is an abstraction: we don’t want all the disadvantages men already have.”

Many of the keenest supporters of the Bill went to Manchester the next day for CHE’s conference for gay women.

ED: We tried to get a more exciting picture of the Women’s Rights demonstration, but the clerical staff belonging to NATSOPA, one of the print unions, was on strike, and despite our having ordered a photograph, it couldn’t be printed for us. We’d like to thank Time Out and Angela Phillips, the photographer, for letting us use their picture of the rally.