We don’t like to think about why some murder victims attract tons more publicity than others — and thus, it would seem, more sympathy. Creating a perverse star system, these rankings are a virtual American Homicide Idol that reveals our sneaky truths. As an indisputably cute and by all accounts kind fifteen-year-old Alameda girl conjured hundreds of anguished message-board postings from strangers who hallooed when her alleged killer was captured quickly, two other East Bayites slain within 36 hours of Ichinkhorloo “Iko” Bayarsaikhan’s October 31 murder have been, as these things go, voted off the program.
Shot to death on 68th Avenue in East Oakland on November 1, 30-year-old Roosevelt Gaither — “Tuff McGruff” to his pals — was a music lover, a NUMMI autoworker, “a provider” for his kids Imani and Rovell, and had no criminal record, according to one memorial MySpace page, whose author adds that Gaither “loved to roll a fat one” and “had a beautiful smile that was very contagious.” Gaither himself listed “any Jet Li shit” as his favorite films and, as his hero, his girlfriend.
Early on the morning of November 2, the strangled body of Loretta Beckwith — a 45-year-old Tupperware seller, assistant restaurant manager, PTA treasurer, equestrian, wife, and devoted mother of Brant, Reid, and Krysta — was discovered on Antioch’s Live Oak High School campus. On her Legacy.com guestbook pages, mourners remember how her smile lit up rooms. “She was such a nice lady,” a fellow soccer mom wrote. Beckwith was strangled with a ligature, e.g. a cord, rope, or length of cloth.
Both killings remain unsolved.
This middle-aged woman and young man do not linger on our radar screens, but not because those who knew them loved them any less.
Hate crime, part 1: On November 2, a Moraga homeowner called the police to report that between 8:45 and 9:15 p.m., a vandal spray-painted “We hate old people” across the garage door of said home, according to the police log.
Hate crime, part 2: Perhaps driven by political sentiments, or perhaps simply in a peeling mood, someone peeled a bumper sticker off a Walnut Creeker’s car and “wrote obscenities” on its bumper using a Magic Marker, according to a November 4 police report. The bumper sticker said “I LOVE RUDY.”
Go bares: Elsewhere in the WC, around 7 a.m. on November 3, a man approached a woman on South Villa Way and asked her for a light. Aged around sixty, he was wearing a white shirt and white socks — and no pants. Some five hours later, another man exposed himself in broad daylight on Marchbanks Drive. An hour later on Francisco Court, a woman arrived home “to find her house a mess,” the police report reads, and also to find that two people “were having intercourse in her room.”
Knock, knock: The onslaught of aggressive, dodgy-seeming solicitors continues. They rove the East Bay, usually bearing clipboards but remarkably vague when asked questions. On one Montclair doorstep, a man with bad teeth told a homeowner — who reported it to his neighborhood-watch group — that he was “not selling anything; just working on his communication skills.” Several Rockridgers report visits from a small boy aged around eight who — after ringing a single doorbell as many as ten times in a row — asks for work while peering intently past residents into their homes. And a young female solicitor has unnerved Rockridgers by asking to use their restrooms. “Anyone going door to door is supposed to display a permit from the Oakland Police Department,” City Councilmember Jean Quan asserts in her newsletter. “We recommend that you not open your door to anyone you do not know.” Wishing to aid investigations when and if their homes are burgled or vandalized, many Rockridgers have been installing outdoor CCTV cameras. Costing $125 and up, they come in hardwired and wireless versions, shaped like domes, soda cans, flying saucers, and lamps. They record video onto VCR cassettes or DVDs and directly onto hard drives. Say cheese!
About that Iko Bayarsaikhan case: Watching a TV news report on the first arrests made after the Alameda teen’s murder, one Oaklander recognized the Masterson Avenue house where one of the warrants was served. She’d witnessed a shocking scene while driving past that very house one evening in June 2006, and described it at the time on a Laurel District neighborhood-watch site: “I was on my way to B of A,” she wrote, “and noticed a group (6-10) young Asian men/boys (looked like high school kids aged 14-18) … intently focused on something. I slowed my car and noticed that one boy was beating the back of the head of another boy. Most boys were wearing the long oversized double white tee shirts or gray sweatshirts and hanging blue jean pants. I was a bit frightened. … One boy had his white tee shirt wrapped over his head.” Seeing that she was dialing 911, the assault ended and “most of them ran into the house.” After reporting the incident to the cops, she drove away, surprised that “as opposed to dispersing in all directions,” the youths had simply entered a home, where she presumed some of them lived, and thus “they were not too concerned with being found.”