Charles Ng / From Death Ranch With Leonard Lake / To Death Row Alone

Leonard Lake and Charles Ng 

Charles Ng - wilseyville_001Charles Ng and Leonard Lake was a match made in hell. And Death Ranch was their heaven.

Leonard Lake

Leonard Lake, a native of San Francisco, was born on July 20, 1946. His mother sought to teach pride in the human body by encouraging Leonard to photograph nude girls, including his sisters and cousins. This “pride” however, soon developed into a precocious obsession with pornography. In adolescence, Leonard extorted sexual favors from his sister, in return for protection from the violent outbursts of their younger brother, Donald. By his teens, Leonard displayed a fascination with the concept of collecting “slaves.”

Leonard Joins the Marines

Charles Ng - lakeHe served a noncombatant tour in Vietnam as a radar operator. He also underwent two years of psychiatric therapy at Camp Pendleton for unspecified mental problems. His ultimate discharge came in 1971.

Back in civilian life, Leonard moved to San Jose and was married. He developed a reputation as a gun buff and a “survivalist.” He was also a sex freak. His favorite hobby was filming bondage scenes, including female partners other than his wife. He and she were soon divorced, once she learned this fact about her husband.

Charles Ng - lake_008In 1980, Lake was charged with grand theft, after ripping off building materials from a construction site. He got off easy with one year’s probation. Married a second time in August 1981, he moved with his wife to a communal ranch at Ukiah, California. There a “renaissance” life-style was practiced, complete with medieval costumes and surgical alteration of young goats to produce “unicorns.” A few months after his arrival in Ukiah commune, Leonard Lake met Charlie Ng.

Enter Charles Ng

charles-ng-1Charles Ng was born in 1961 in Hong Kong. He was the son of wealthy Chinese parents. Ng, who was in constant trouble, was expelled from school in Hong Kong. He was later expelled from an expensive private school in England, for stealing from fellow students. A subsequent shoplifting arrest drove him to California, where he joined the Marine Corps after a hit-and-run incident.

Charles Ng was an expert martial artist and self-styled “ninja warrior” who was “born to fight.” Ng talked incessantly of violence to his fellow leathernecks. In October 1979, he led two accomplices in stealing $11,000 worth of automatic weapons from a Marine arsenal in Hawaii. He was arrested. During psychiatric evaluation, Ng boasted of “assassinating” someone in California, but never named his victim. He escaped from custody before his trial and was listed as a deserter in 1981. That’s when he answered Leonard Lake’s ad in a war gamer’s magazine.

Best Buds

charles-ng-2The two men hit it off at once. They began collecting automatic weapons from illegal sources. A team of federal agents raided the ranch in April 1982, arresting Lake and Ng for firearms violations. Released on $6,000 bond, Lake promptly went into hiding, using a variety of pseudonyms as he drifted around northern California. His second wife divorced him after the arrest, but they remained on friendly terms.

As a fugitive, Charles Ng was denied bail, and he struck a bargain with military prosecutors in August, pleading guilty to theft in return for a promise that he would serve no more than three years of a 14-year sentence. Confined to the military stockade at Leavenworth federal penitentiary, Ng was paroled after 18 months, avoiding deportation with a reference to the phony birthplace shown on his enlistment papers.

Ng Returns

wilseyville_001Upon release from prison, Ng returned to California and again teamed up with Leonard Lake. By that time, Lake had settled on two and a half acres of woodland near Wilseyville. He had constructed a fortified bunker beside his cabin and was stockpiling illegal weapons and stolen video equipment.

His every thought was recorded in various diaries, including details of “Operation Miranda,” entailing collection of sex slaves to serve his needs after a nuclear holocaust. On the subject of females, Lake wrote: “God meant women for cooking, cleaning house and sex. And when they are not in use, they should be locked up.” An oft-repeated motto in the diaries advised, “If you love something, let it go. If it doesn’t come back, hunt it down and kill it.”

On February 25, 1984, shortly before his reunion with Charles Ng, Leonard Lake described his life as “mostly dull day-to-day routine still with death in my pocket and fantasy my major goal.” If authorities are correct, the first death in Lake’s pocket may have claimed brother Donald, reported missing by their mother after he went to visit Lake in July 1983. Donald was never seen again.

The Shoplifting Incident

On June 2, 1985, employees of a lumberyard in South San Francisco called police to report a peculiar shoplifting incident. An Oriental man had walked out of the store with a $75 vice, placed it in the trunk of a Honda parked nearby and then escaped on foot before they could detain him.

lake_005The car was still outside and officers found a bearded white man at the wheel. He cheerfully produced a driver’s license in the name of “Robin Stapley.” He bore no resemblance to its photograph. A brief examination of the trunk turned up the stolen vice, along with a silencer-equipped .22 caliber pistol. Booked on theft and weapons charges “Stapley” evaded questions for several hours, then asked for a drink of water, gulping a cyanide capsule removed from a secret compartment in his belt buckle.

He was comatose on arrival at the hospital, where he would linger on life-support machines over the next four days, before he was finally pronounced dead on June 6th.

It All Starts Coming Together

A fingerprint comparison identified “Stapley” as Leonard Lake, but the driver’s license was not a forgery. Its original owner was also the founder of San Diego’s Guardian Angels Chapter. Stapley had not been seen at home for several weeks. The Honda’s license plate was registered to Lake, but the vehicle was not. Its owner of record, 39-year-old Paul Cosner, was a San Francisco car dealer, who had disappeared in November 1984, after leaving home to sell the car to “a weird guy.” Lake’s auto registration led detectives to the property in Wilseyville, where they discovered weapons, torture devices and Leonard’s voluminous diaries.

Serial numbers on Lake’s video equipment traced ownership to Harvey Dubs, a San Francisco photographer reported missing, along with his wife Deborah and infant son, Sean, on July 25, 1984. As detectives soon learned, the equipment had been used to produce ghoulish “home movies” of young women being stripped and threatened, raped and tortured, at least one of them mutilated so savagely she must have died as a result.

The Actors of Snuff Films

Leonard Lake and Charles Ng were the principal stars of the snuff tapes. One of their “leading ladies” was quickly identified as the missing Deborah Dubs. Another reluctant “actress” was Brenda O’Connor, who once occupied the cabin adjacent to Lake’s with her husband, Lonnie Bond, and their infant son, Lonnie, Jr.. They had known Lake as “Charles Gunnar,” an alias lifted from the best man at Lake’s second wedding and another missing person, last seen alive in 1983.

O’Connor was afraid of “Gunnar,” telling friends that she had seen him plant a woman’s body in the woods, but rather than inform police, her husband had invited a friend, Guardian Angel Robin Stapley, to share their quarters and offer personal protection. All four had disappeared in May of 1985. Another snuff-tape victim, 18-year-old Kathleen Allen, made the acquaintance of Lake and Ng through her boyfriend, 23-year-old Mike Carroll.

Carroll had served time with Charles Ng at Leavenworth and later came west to join him in various shady enterprises. Allen abandoned her job in a supermarket after Lake informed her that Carroll had been shot and wounded “near Lake Tahoe,” offering to show her where he was. Her final paycheck had been mailed to Lake’s address in Wilseyville. Aside from videocassettes, authorities retrieved numerous still photos from Lake’s bunker, including snapshots of Leonard in long “witchy” robes, and photos of 21 young women captured in various stages of undress.

Some Were Still Alive

Six of the women in the pictures were finally identified and found alive. The other 15 have remained elusive, despite publication of the photographs. Police suspect that most, or all of them, were murdered on the death ranch. Gradually, the search moved outward from Lake’s bunker, into the surrounding woods.

A vehicle abandoned near the cabin was registered to another missing person, Sunnyvale photographer Jeffrey Askern, and police soon had a fair idea of what had happened to Lake’s vanishing acquaintances. On June 8, portions of four human skeletons were unearthed near the bunker, with a fifth victim, and numerous charred bone fragments, including infant’s teeth discovered on June 13th.

Number six was turned up five days later and was first to be identified. A 34-year-old drifter, Randy Jacobson was last seen alive in October 1984, when he left his San Francisco rooming house to visit Lake and sell his van.

And There Were More

Two of Jacobson’s neighbors, 26-year-old Cheryl Okoro and 38-year-old Maurice Wok, were also on the missing list, linked to the Wilseyville killers by personal contacts and cryptic entries in Lake’s diary. Three more skeletons were sorted out of scattered fragments on June 26, and authorities declared that Leonard Lake and Charles Ng were linked with the disappearance of at least 25 persons.

One of those was Mike Carroll, who reportedly agreed to dress in “sissy” clothes and lure in gays for Charles Ng to kill. But he then too died when Charlie tired of the game. Donald Giuletti, a 36-year-old disc jockey in San Francisco, had offered oral sex through published advertisements and one of the callers was a young Oriental who shot Giuletti to death in July 1984, critically wounding his roommate at the same time. Lake’s wife recalled that Ng had boasted of shooting two homosexuals and the survivor readily identified Charlie Ng’s mugshot as a likeness of the gunman.

Two other friends of Ng, and occasional coworkers at a Bay Area warehouse, were also on the missing list. Clifford Parenteau, age 24, had vanished after winning $400 on a Superbowl bet, telling associates that he was going “to the country” to spend the money with Ng. A short time later, 25-year-old Jeffrey Gerald dropped from sight after he agreed to help Ng move some furniture. Neither man was seen again. Charles Ng was formally charged with their deaths, in two, of twelve, first-degree murder counts filed against him.

The Evidence

Stacks of video tapes revealed ‘home movies’ of hog tied women, orgies, and young girls being forced into oral sex and torture. One of the sex tapes show a terrified 33 year old Debbie Duds being sexually abused so badly she could not have possibly survived.

On the same tape, Lake and Ng are seen sexually abusing Brenda O’Connor, who had, along with her young son and husband, disappeared in May of 1985. Brenda is seen tied to a chair, pleading for the life of her son and husband, as well as for her own. Ng then unties Brenda and forces her to strip naked before placing her in leg irons.  She is then brutally sexually abused by both Ng and Lake.

The Way To Survive

On tape, Lake was heard to say, “By cooperating with us, that means you will stay here as a prisoner. You will work for us, you will wash for us, you will fuck for us. Or you can say no, in which case we’ll tie you to the bed, we’ll rape you, and then we’ll take you outside and shoot you. Your choice!”

Police estimated that 21 “missing” women; daughters, wives, girlfriends, were shown as victims of malicious attacks in the tapes or captured on still photos. Veteran homicide sleuths who thought they had seen everything winced at the screams of luckless victims being raped and sodomized. Cries of children in the background particularly distressed casehardened detectives.

Female captives were seen withering on the floor, humiliated in front of other male and female captives. Still photographs showed naked young girls raging in age from 12 to early twenties forced to engage in kinky sex trysts.

On one of the videotapes Lake promises to kill the terrified, naked girl and bury her like “Mike” if she doesn’t cooperate in a sex orgy.

The Digging Begins

On June 8, hordes of police started digging outward from Lake’s bunker, working with meticulous care, to preserve evidence. With the help of sheriff’s canine dogs they uprooted some fifty pounds of human skeletons and fragmented bones, teeth and partial remains of missing men, women and children. They found jewelry, rotted clothing and several driver’s license, including that of Stapley and Mike Carroll. A rotted corpse was eventually identified as Randy Jacobson.

Donald Giuletti, 38, a favorite San Francisco disc jockey answered an ad in a sex tabloid offering free oral sex by an Asian male. He was found shot three times in the study of his home. Giuletti’s roommate identified the man who visited Giuletti that night as Charles Ng.

The Victims Of Charles Ng and Leonard Lake

Other victims named in the indictment include Mike Carroll and Kathleen Allen, Lonnie Bond and family, Robin Stapley, Don Giuletti, and three members of the Dubs family. Charles Ng is also charged as an accessory to murder in the disappearance of Paul Cosner. (Remains of Stapley and Lonnie Bond were found in a common grave on July 9, bringing the official body-count to 12 known victims.)

On July 6, 1985, Charles Ng was arrested while shoplifting food from a market in Calgary, Alberta. A security guard was shot in the hand before Ng was subdued. Charges of attempted murder were reduced to aggravated assault, robbery, and illegal use of a weapon, with Ng sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment upon conviction.

Charles Ng Extradited To The States

On November 29, 1988, a Canadian judge ruled that Ng should be extradited to the United States for trial on 19 of 25 charges filed against him in California. Ng’s appeal of the decision was rejected on August 31,1989, but further legal maneuvers stalled his extradition until 1991.

Even that was not the end, however, as Charles Ng pulled out all the stops, using every trick and legal loophole in the book to postpone his trial for another seven years. He fired attorneys, challenged judges, moved for change of venue (granted, to Orange County), lodged complaints about jailhouse conditions. In short, used the cumbersome California legal system to hamstring itself.

In October 1997, Ng’s stubborn refusal to cooperate with his latest court-appointed attorney, and won yet another delay in his trial, with jury selection pushed back to September 1, 1998.

Police in San Francisco, meanwhile, grudgingly admitted “accidentally” destroying vital evidence in one of the 13 murder counts filed against Charles Ng, but 12 more still remained for his trial.

Ng Would Represent Himself

In May 1998, Judge John Ryan permitted Ng to fire his lawyers and represent himself, with a stern warning that the trial would begin on September 1, whether Charlie liked it or not.

On July 15, Ng tried for yet another postponement, claiming that his glasses were “the wrong prescription” and his personal computer was not fully programmed, thus hampering his defense. Judge Ryan, unmoved, denied the motion and scheduled pretrial hearings to begin on August 21.

Charles Ng’s trial was the longest, most expensive criminal proceeding ever, in a state notorious for courtroom marathons, finally ending on May 3, 1999. Charlie was convicted and the jury recommended death. The judge agreed. Charlie remains on death row.


credit – murderpedia