'Zebra killer' inmate found dead in San Quentin prison cell

AP News
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Posted: Mar 13, 2015 6:22 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — One of the four men convicted of participating in a string of racially motivated attacks in the mid-1970s that killed 14 people and injured seven in San Francisco was found dead in his cell, California prison officials said Friday.

The body of J.C.X. Simon, 69, was found in his one-man cell shortly before midnight Thursday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said. The cause of death is unknown, and an autopsy is planned.

Simon was convicted of two first-degree murder charges in 1976 and was serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole, the maximum sentence allowed In California at the time.

Simon and three other black men were convicted of participating in a six-month murder spree that targeted white victims in San Francisco. Between October 1976 and April 1974, 14 people were murdered and seven wounded — including Art Agnos, who would go on to serve as San Francisco's mayor. The killing spree was dubbed the "zebra murders" because of the racial motivations.

Then-Mayor Joe Alioto ordered a city-wide dragnet to catch the killers. Police stopped and questioned nearly every young black man they encountered between the ages of 20 and 30 who were six-feet tall or few inches shorter.

Those questioned and cleared were given a card to show other officers who detained them.

The three other men convicted of participating in the killings are all serving life sentences with the possibility of parole at separate California prisons.