Orange County Devil Worshipping Killer Died Quietly
Devil-worshipper, Steven Craig Hurd, who was convicted in 1975 of two of Orange County’s most notorious murders, died in prison five years ago, without any notoriety, after spending most of his life in prison.
Steven Craig Hurd, who was serving two life terms for brutal slayings a day apart in 1970, died at a local hospital outside Mule Creek State Prison in Amador County from a brain hemorrhage on May 28, 2005.
Orange County prosecutors were not notified of Hurd’s death, and the California Department of Corrections did not issue a press release to the media.
Who Was Steven Craig Hurd
At the time of his death, Hurd had been in custody in jails, mental hospitals or prisons for 35 years for the hatchet slaying of Santa Ana gas station attendant Jerry Wayne Carlin, 20, and the stabbing death of Florence Nancy Brown, a 31-year-old mother of five.
The ritualistic killings on June 2 and 3, 1970, touched off a wave of fear throughout Orange County and Southern California as the slayings came in the wake of the Manson family serial murders in Los Angeles County in 1969.
The Orange County Register listed Hurd’s crime spree as one of the “50 Most Notorious Cases” in Orange County history during a series in 2009 to mark the 120th anniversary of the county.
Steven Craig Hurd, who was 55 when he died, was the leader of a small band of Satan worshippers who traveled together in the summer of 1970 committing random acts of violence.
The group confronted Carlin during his graveyard shift at a Santa Ana gas station on June 2, 1970. Steven Craig Hurd and follower Arthur ”Moose” Hulse, now 57, forced the newlywed into the station’s restroom, where they hacked him to death with a Boy Scout hatchet. Hulse later licked the blood off the hatchet, Hurd claimed.
The day after Carlin was slaughtered, the group of Satanists, who included two teenagers and a 31-year-old drug-using homeless woman, hijacked a station wagon driven by Brown when she exited the I-5 Freeway at Sand Canyon.
According to the testimony of one of the accomplices, Brown was forced into an orange grove in Irvine, where she begged for her life and asked if she was going to die.
Steven Craig Hurd answered her by stabbing her more than 20 times.
Evidence presented during Hurd’s trial revealed that the group buried Brown’s body in a shallow grave near El Cariso on that Ortega Highway.
After The Murder
Steven Craig Hurd told state psychiatrists that he returned to the gravesite several days later, dug up the body, ripped out Brown’s heart and ate it. He said it tasted like chicken.
The five Satan worshippers, including Steven Craig Hurd, were arrested on a tip about three weeks after the killings.
Three co-defendants were convicted of lesser crimes and were released within a few years.
Hulse was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and remains in prison. He is now 57.
Steven Craig Hurd spent five years at Atascadero State Mental Hospital after his arrest when he was declared mentally unfit for trial.
But he eventually was tried in Orange County in May 1975, convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, with parole possible after seven years. There was no death penalty when his crimes were committed.
Parole Denied Every Time
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office successfully opposed Steven Craig Hurd’s parole seven times, starting in 1981.
In an April 1, 2002 letter to the state Board of Prison Terms, Deputy District Attorney Doug Woodsmall objected to Hurd’s parole bid, offering that Hurd’s murders were “carried out in an especially heinous, atrocious, cruel and callous manner.
“Both he and his crimes are indelibly impressed in the public consciousness of Orange County citizens,” Woodsmall wrote. “In a matter of days, Hurd involved himself in two of the most brutal and vicious killings in the history of Orange County.”
“His total depravity clearly marks Steven Craig Hurd as a subject both unfit and unsuitable for parole now or in the future.”
Steven Craig Hurd Called A Monster
Deputy District Attorney Ted Burnett appeared in person at Mule Creek prison in 2002 to object to Hurd’s application for parole. “The man’s a monster, and he should stay in prison forever,” Burnett said at the time.
The infamous notoriety and attention the media gave Steven Craig Hurd during his crime spree, arrest and trial in the 1970s eluded him in death. No one knew that he had died.
Assistant District Attorney David Brent, head of the DA’s homicide unit, said he was unaware of Hurd’s death until this week.
“I’m not happy anyone dies, but I am glad he did not have a long life, based on what he did to his victims in 1970,” Brent said.
A Disturbed Human Being
Orange County Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno, who prosecuted the Hurd case as a deputy district attorney in 1975, said he too was unaware that Hurd had died, but he declined further comment.
William Gamble, who was Hurd’s lawyer during his headline-making trial in 1975, said he also was unaware that his former client had died.
“He was a very confused young man with a serious mental illness who was easily led astray by this doctrine of Satanism,” said Gamble, who now is a criminal defense attorney in Santa Maria.
Jim Carlin, Jerry Wayne Carlin’s older brother, was told of Hurd’s death earlier this week. Jim Carlin, now 61 and an attorney for the federal government, said he was relieved to learn that his brother’s killer was never released from prison because he felt he would still have been a danger to others.
As Told By Larry Welborn of The Orange County Register – 2010