“It’s sick but it’s a sick group of people.”
–Jury foreman, Ann Jiminez murder trial
December 27, 1968.
1480 Waller Street, San Francisco, California.
Right there at the heart of the peace-and-love capital of the world, Holy Mecca of Hippiedom, native stomping ground of the Grateful Dead and birthing-hole of the psychedelic movement, they humiliated, raped, and beat Ann Jimenez to death over the course of three hours—all because she supposedly stole a pair of boots.
Not too groovy, baby. Not too groovy at all.
You can’t find pictures of Jiminez today.
The poor kid was only nineteen when she died. Her murder and murder trial were sensationalized for a time but then poof, it was as if she’d never been at all. Just another young pilgrim lost on her way to enlightenment.
Around the time Jiminez’s murder trial was wrapping up, the Manson Family was out there cutting up movie star Sharon Tate and her friends. To this day those horrific events are covered continuously. Accounts perpetually start off with an obligatory, superfluous declaration that Tate “sure was beautiful.”
Tate was beautiful, obviously. More importantly, she was a good person with a generous heart. She didn’t deserve what happened to her. Those murders were terrible. I don’t mean to marginalize them at all.
Still, I can’t help but think of Jiminez and how small her life must have felt looking up at the big screen at all those celebrities selling the Hippie Myth of egalitarianism and love. I look at how small her terrible death seems today, swallowed up by tabloid shadows, and it bothers me.
She just wasn’t pretty enough to be mourned, I guess.
It’s not the saddest story in the world, but it’s still sad as hell. I think about the kid and wish I could reach back through time and help her.
Poor, dead Ann Jiminez who never fit in anywhere.
I imagine her huddled there in that San Francisco flophouse feeling desperate and lost, feeling like a failure as a human being. Looking for love and acceptance, finding only drugs and bullshit ideologues.
“The Haight has changed,” she wrote to her sister the day before she died.
She knew she was in a bad place. Maybe, if she had just a little bit longer, she would have escaped. Hell, maybe she stole the boots that got her killed so she’d have something to wear on her back home. Highly unlikely, of course, but doesn’t Jiminez deserve some poetic license, at the very least?
Doesn’t matter. The kid’s dead. They killed her.
Two days after Christmas, nonetheless.
Not even slightly groovy, baby.
“She grew up fast—and she didn’t really grow up at all…”
—Mother Beatrice Jiminez (January 19, 1969, The San Francisco Examiner).
Ann Jiminez was born to Antonio Maldonado and Beatrice Jiminez in Everett, Washington, 1949.
Antonio left Ann and her two little sisters when Ann was nine years. He was an alcoholic and a troubled man, which isn’t hard to imagine when you consider that he was a World War II veteran who’d been captured by the Japanese and put through the The Tragedy of Bataan, one of the most horrific events of an overall horrific era. He’d gone off to war a good, proud man, but had back with demons.
Ann’s mother stuck by her children after Antonio left. Somehow, even while raising three girls alone, she managed to earn a medical technologist certificate and to start a respectable career. Admirable. Tough lady.
Still, life was chaotic and fearful for Ann. She soon reached 280 pounds despite standing only 5’5″ tall. Some newspapers said she had a glandular problem. Whether or not that’s medically verified or just the assumption of her mother, we can’t be certain. All we do know is that whether triggered biologically or psychologically, she was conspicuously big at a time before being big was common in America.
“And yet, she seemed to want people to accept her, to like her. She tried so desperately to have people like her…”
—Mother Beatrice Jimenez, The San Francisco Examiner (January 19, 1969)
Eventually, Ann started running away from home, which got her committed to a psychiatric hospital. As it did for many people sent for “help” in that dark period of the mental health industry, the experience made things exponentially worse for Ann.
“She was more mixed up than ever when she came out,” her mother told The San Francisco Examiner. “They put her in in a barracks with girls who were sex perverts, everything…vicious people. She was terrified.”
When the newly mixed up Ann was seventeen, she ran to Los Angeles with a boy and married him. It didn’t last long before he got mixed up in hard drugs. They separated. Ann later miscarried his child.
Eventually, the kid found her way down to San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury, most happening place in America at the time, where you’d better wear some flowers in your hair and all that crap. Dumb kids humping a tie-dyed marketing scheme and falling for a manufactured Utopia that was never anything like the Boomers still to this day pretend it was—at least not entirely.
“Rape is as common as bullshit on Haight Street.”
—Chester Anderson, April 27, 1967 edition of alternative press magazine Helix.
An unnamed source told the San Francisco Examiner, “She never really fit in here. She wanted to swing with the crowd, but she didn’t really know how.”
Well, looking back at “the crowd,” it probably indicated something good about Ann’s character that she didn’t fit in with them. It didn’t feel that way to Jiminez, of course.
Something she wrote to her sister bothers me more than anything else.
“I’m sorry I’m such a big disappointment to mom and you kids,” she’d written, “but I am what I am. I’m not taking any dope. Mom should be glad to hear that.”
Nineteen goddamn years old. Too young to be declared a disappointment. She should have had years to rebound, find herself and her love. That’s what she went to the Haight to find. Someone should have warned her that the only love there was reserved for the beautiful people, rich kids rebelling against their own entitlement, taking a vacation from the pressures of affluence before eventually moving on from that whole “flower power” bag and taking that job in daddy’s company.
It was all bullshit, Ann. But, then again, you already know that better than I do, don’t you?
The Killing Grounds
Boomers still drool about it to this day—the vaunted Haight Ashbury of San Francisco, California, main locus from which the Hippie revolution/marketing-scheme was born. The Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, and Janis Joplin all launched their legends there. It was Home Base for the free love movement, free clinics, Diggers, freaks, and heads. It was the greatest party of your life combined with the most meaningful life pursuit possible and the most ecstatic spiritual experience you could have.
It was also almost entirely a bunch of hogwash. At least, it was almost entirely hogwash that way by the time Jiminez got there.
To be fair, at one time, all the idealistic political and spiritual notions were mostly authentic. The folks of the Haight were sincerely concerned with changing the injustices of their time and in repairing the psychic damage of a nation. They wanted civil rights for all. They wanted peace in Vietnam. They wanted a culture that was less authoritarian over their bodies and sexual expressions.
The thing is, in the Haight, all that good stuff really culminated in 1967 with the Summer of Love, a gathering of counterculture icons, thought leaders, artists, and hangers-on the likes of which the world had never seen before and has never seen since. That event was so powerful that it tugged at the imaginations of every American and proved to be an irresistible lure to those souls who had become unmoored or unwanted by the traditional America of their homes.
This brought waves of Haight immigrants who were either ill-equipped emotionally and intellectually for the revolution or who didn’t even care about it to begin with. Crooks, pushers, wandering souls, and lots of burnt-out druggies overran the place
By the time Jiminez got to the Haight, most of those who’d created the Free Love environment had already bailed. The streets were overcrowded. Meth and heroin replaced weed and shrooms. Pushers preyed on the flower children, and dirtbags abused the spirit of “free love” to screw underage kids who didn’t know what the hell they were doing in life. The Kerouac-inspired backpackers found themselves as regular old street kids, dirty, hungry, and desperate.
Poor Ann Jiminez, young and looking for love and a place in the world, wandered into this blasted netherworld. She went expecting open arms and instead found dirty hands buried in trench coat pockets.
She was no naïf herself by that point, but her letters home indicate a sensitive girl who wanted to make right. She just couldn’t figure out what right was, and she just couldn’t get a hold of herself. Hell, though, she was only nineteen.
In 1968, feeling lost and confused at nineteen was a sign of moral degeneracy. In 2020 it’s just commonsense par for the course.
The tortuous ordeal started because Jiminez supposedly stole a pair of boots.
We’ll never know if she actually did steal the footwear because she died a few hours after the accusation. At least one person claimed she was innocent of the theft, though. Liberty Thomas, Jiminez’s roommate, said that though Jiminez was an awkward outcast, she wasn’t a thief.
“One thing, she was honest,” Thomas told the newspapers, “she never took those boots, I’ll tell you that.”
Whether guilty or innocent, Jiminez soon found herself subjected to “motor ethics,” as one of those involved would later describe it. We can’t know exactly what motor ethics meant to those people, but apparently it had something to do with murdering young women over the suspected robbery of boots.
Theresa “Sunny” Henderson, owner of the supposedly stolen boots, kicked off the festivities. She led Jiminez upstairs to a room frequently used for orgies and, once there, cut the girl’s bra strap with knife.
What ensued was later called a “turnout,” which seems to have resembled the kind of gang-initiation rites you hear of today. Except this one went terribly wrong.
At least, that’s the story the assaulters told authorities. The thing to remember, though, is that the whole “turnout” shtick was crucial to their defense. If true, it meant that they never went into the act with the intent to commit premeditated murder.
A lot about that claim doesn’t really add up to what transpired, but that was what they claimed, nonetheless.
Whatever you choose to call the ordeal, what followed was a group of as many as fifteen young people beating and raping young Ann Jiminez. With lipstick they scrawled vulgarities over her naked body.
They took turns on her for three hours while lookouts provided watch.
A classy fellow named Clyde Shafley shaved her pubic hair smooth with a straight razor.
A gentlemanly scholar named Joseph Henderson personally got the full-on rape party going.
Joseph Henderson, husband of the previously mentioned Sunny Henderson, put in an effort good enough to get himself on trial for murder.
Larry “Blackie” Garrett, Jiminez’s ex-boyfriend, got his licks in, too.
Thomas R. Longfellow made contributions significant enough to get himself a notable convicted for rape.
The losers and wastoids pummeled the poor goddamn kid for three hours. It was so chaotic and so brutal that when coroners determined it was a blow to the temple that killed Jiminez, there was no way to be sure who delivered that fatal blow. So many had kicked her in the head that it could have been anyone They’d also dragged her down a flight of steps and bounced her head off each one as they went.
The scene that was left behind was so bad that investigators didn’t even like fully describing it. These weren’t small town cops on their first murder cases. These were hardened homicide detectives (an interesting but inconsequential tidbit is that that the inspectors assigned to the case were Dave Toschi and Bill Armstrong, the same guys who investigated the Zodiac killings).
No one was ever convicted of murdering Ann Jiminez.
As many as fifteen people participated in a three-hour-long assault on her. Many eyewitnesses attested to witnessing the event. All of those involved even outright admitted their own presence there. Still, no one was ever convicted.
The trial garnered national attention, mainly because, same as the Manson Family killings, it validated mainstream America’s suspicions that something was seriously wrong with that whole Hippie thing. Right there, in the heart of Hippiedom, they were given all the evidence they needed that sex, drugs, and rock and roll were the instruments of the Devil.
A multi-pronged defense was used to protect those who’d tortured Jiminez.
Inconsistencies in eyewitness accounts were exploited (nearly all of the witnesses were speed freaks or general drug heads). For instance, Liberty Thomas told police she’d seen a deported Canadian named Ron Pogue deliver some heavy kicks to Jiminez’s head, but Thomas then later said that she’d left the scene for a while and only heard about Pogue’s kicks second-hand.
Garrett’s 68 IQ was used to basically suggest that he was too stupid to plan anything at all, including murder. Dr. Martin Blinder, defense witness, floated this idea. Blinder also supported the claim Jiminez willingly went along with the “turnout” and that turnouts were a common thing in that crew. This was one turnout that simply got out of hand.
Now, I’m not doctor, but I’d suggest that even if Jiminez had initially consented, there comes a point when she should have been able to rescind that consent. Say, about the time she was getting booted in the mouth.
All the accused were either whacked out on drugs or else living a lifestyle so generally drenched in illicit chemicals that their minds were jelly.
One fellow claimed to have been stone sober through the whole thing. He only watched. His name was Joel Radtke.
When asked why he didn’t help Jiminez, Radtke said, “There was one of me and fifteen or sixteen of them. What is one person supposed to do?”
The defense also sullied Jiminez’s character by saying she did drugs, had gonorrhea, tattoos, experience with group sex, and an illegitimate pregnancy. Ah, yes, the good old “she was asking for it” defense.
Not long after the August–September, 1969 trial, the Manson Family media train started up. Those killings involved an even more bizarre setup and a beautiful victim and quickly subsumed all over national news, including Jiminez’s murder.
There’s not much of one, really.
Except for some San-Francisco-specific outlets, the story’s been mostly forgotten. Probably not too surprising considering it happened more than fifty years ago at this point.
Still, it bothers me.
Jiminez was only nineteen when she died. She’d made some bad choices with her life, but she wasn’t a bad person. She’d felt unloved and unwanted for most of her life. She’d drifted down to the supposed nexus of “free love” to fill the hole in her heart.
It’s not the saddest story in the world. Still, it bothers me.
I think of that kid huddled up in a flophouse trying to find a way to escape herself. Trying to figure out a way to be all the things she dreamed about in her best dreams. Trying to be beautiful.
I think of her joining a crowd of young people who seemed to be just like her and then her heartbreak at finding out that not only were then not like her, they didn’t want her around, either. Just like everyone else.
It took guts for her to go there in the first place. Let’s not forget that. She could have stayed home and wallowed in her self-loathing. Instead, she sought adventure. She fought for freedom. She tried to be something more than they said she was.
I think of that night she wrote home to her sister, suspecting that something was seriously wrong with the city around her. I think of her feeling like a failure and a loser.
I think of the moment her “friend” cut her bra strap and the assault began. I think of the fear she must have felt as the turnout turned truly violent. As boots cracked down on her head and slimy dirtbag losers had their way with her body.
I think about all that stuff and it just bothers me, that’s all.
It just bothers me.