SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A man convicted along with three others in the racially motivated killing spree that terrorized San Francisco in the 1970s died in a prison cell while on hospice care, officials announced Thursday.
Jessie Lee Cooks, 76, was found dead Wednesday in his bed at the California Medical Facility, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said. The cause of death will be determined by the Solano County Coroner, officials said.
Cooks was sentenced in San Francisco County on March 29, 1976, to serve life with the possibility of parole for first-degree murder, kidnapping and first-degree robbery.
Cooks, Manuel More, J.C.X. Simon and Larry C. Green were convicted of targeting white victims between October 1973 and April 1974 in a rampage that terrorized San Francisco and left 14 people dead.
The murder victims included a woman who was beheaded with a machete, an 81-year-old man and a 19-year-old college student carrying a teddy bear as a Christmas present.
The attacks were known as the “Zebra murders” because investigators communicated their information in the case over the police broadcast band Z. The wounded included Art Agnos, who would go on to serve as San Francisco’s mayor.
The mayor at the time, Joseph L. Alioto, ordered a citywide dragnet to catch the killers. Police officers stopped and questioned nearly every young Black man they encountered between the ages of 20 and 30 who were 6 feet tall or a few inches shorter. Those questioned and cleared were given a card to show other officers who might detain them for questioning.
J.C.X. Simon passed away at San Quentin State Prison in 2015 at age 69. Manuel Moore passed away at California Health Care Facility in Stockton in 2017. He was 73.
Larry C. Green, 69, is incarcerated at California State Prison-Solano in Vacaville.