The Capture Of Tookie


Pretty good article depicting the capture of Tookie Williams and the last time Albert Owens, Tookie’s first victim, was seen :

Today, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger holds a clemency hearing for condemned murderer Stanley Tookie Williams. He will hear from prosecutors and those who believe Williams is a changed man. The officers who helped bring him in saw a different Williams. Below is their story.

Guns drawn, a small team of Los Angeles County homicide investigators waited out the night inside a crowded house in Los Angeles, eager for their suspect to walk through the door.

Exhausted but alert with adrenaline, Gene Hetzel, then a 39-year-old detective, watched for the doorknob to turn.

He had been hunting Stanley Tookie Williams for days, working on little sleep.

Now, as he waited for Williams to come home, his main worry was the body builder’s size, his massive chest, his 22-inch arms.

“We had already put together information about his physical size. We weren’t going to take any chances as far as an altercation,” Hetzel said.

It was March 14, 1979 – three days after Williams shotgunned three members of a family during a motel robbery in Los Angeles.

The search for the shooter had led detectives to the Los Angeles home of James and Ester Garrett, with whom Williams had been staying. The married couple had already disclosed to detectives their conversations with Williams in which he described the murders.

So as not to arouse suspicions, the Garretts went about their nightly routine: They watched television, talked, ate dinner. The detectives kept a quiet vigil.

“We’d been up all day, into the wee hours of the previous night, looking for Williams,” Hetzel said. “It was warm, because we had so many people in that small house.”

Finally, their patience looked as if it was about to pay off. Late into the night, Williams arrived at the house. Detectives heard him walking toward the front door.

But then – nothing. Mysteriously, Williams simply turned around and got back into a car with friends.

Hours later, Hetzel learned that Williams was in custody. Other officers had stopped the car Williams was driving and arrested him on a weapons violation. He had two loaded shotguns inside the car.

Thirteen days earlier, on Feb. 28, 1979, Ed Nyberg, in his third year as a patrol officer for the Whittier Police Department, was working the graveyard shift on the west side of the city.

He stopped at a 7-Eleven on Whittier Boulevard at about 3a.m., just to check for any problems. In that era, the area was dotted with massage parlors, a notorious hangout for criminals, Nyberg said.

“I tried to stay out there and listen, because it wasn’t uncommon to hear shots and fights,” he said.

But everything looked quiet at the 7-Eleven – no cars in the parking lot – so Nyberg waved at the young clerk and drove off.

“I remember what he looked like. He was in his early or mid-20s, with shoulder-length, reddish-blond hair. Surfer type,” Nyberg said.

When he drove past the store about an hour later, however, sheriff’s squad cars were everywhere, and Nyberg quickly learned that the clerk, 26-year-old Albert Lewis Owens, who lived nearby, had been killed in a robbery.

It was only Owens’ second day on the job, Nyberg said.

“I’ve often thought about it,” he said. “If I had driven to the 7-Eleven 20, 30 minutes later, they would’ve seen me and it probably wouldn’t have happened.

“You kind of take it personal.”

After learning Williams was in custody, Hetzel and another detective went to interview their suspect at the sheriff’s Firestone Station.

It was daylight now, and Hetzel had been awake for nearly two days.

The interview took about two hours.

Throughout, their suspect was cool.

“What amazed me was that, here this man has been arrested for a weapons violation,” said Hetzel, now 65 and retired. “To him, it was like no big thing. He didn’t have any big concern.”

In the three days after the Yang family murders, Hetzel had investigated the crime scene, worked with detectives in the Owens case, and identified a prime suspect. He spent hours staking out Williams to make an arrest and, after he was brought into custody, interviewed him for hours. With other detectives, he had compiled information for attorneys to prosecute.

Finally, later that afternoon, he went home to sleep.

“I mean this in all sincerity,” he said. “I worked in homicide for eight years and I never put an innocent person in jail. Williams was a ruthless, cold-blooded killer. I have no doubt in my mind that he was the trigger man.”

This report is a must read if you have any curiosity about the crimes Tookie committed and why he should be executed.


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