Saturday, August 13, 2011

Discovery Park Murders: the Death of James "Spider" Craig

above: the only spot off the pavement big enough for a car west of Truxel on Sacramento's Garden Highway. In 1978 this would have been a relatively isolated place.

James Terrell “Spider” Craig's woman was Priscilla “Tuffy” Cooper. They were living with Nancy Pitman, Michael “Redeye” Monfort, Billy Goucher and Maria “Crystal” Alonzo in Guerneville when the three men decided to take James Willett out into the woods and kill him on or about October 17, 1972.

By 1978, Spider was out of prison and running with other Aryan Brotherhood fellas. One of them was 27 year old Ed Barabas, who had just finished serving a three year term at nearby Folsom Prison for armed robbery. Inevitably, something they were doing in Sacramento went horribly wrong. At about 4am on the morning of Wednesday, November 15th, police found Spider and Barabas with shotgun wounds to their faces and stuffed into the trunk of a burning 1967 gold colored Dodge near Discovery Park, Sacramento. The car was stolen about five miles south in a community called Hood, and reportedly parked just off the pavement west of Truxel on the Garden Highway.

above: A 1967 gold- colored Dodge (not "the" Dodge, for illustration purposes only.)

Barabas was positioned closest to the back seat and was pronounced dead on the scene. However, Spider was taken to nearby U. C. Davis Medical Center where he survived in the burn unit until his death on December 22. Legend has it that his last words before a medically induced coma set in were “She’s dangerous!” Spider's car was later found parked downtown at 17th and Q.

Above is the U.C. Davis Medical Center’s old ED where Spider was likely deposited by paramedics. It was vacated in late 2010 and is scheduled for demolition within the next two years.