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The following are mostly photographs, but also a few links and texts, which should be considered integral to American Honor Killings. I’ve arranged the dossier so the material matches up to the chapters of the book (except the last, the conclusion, which needs no illustration. Instead, I’ve put a Reader’s Guide at the end.) The items can’t stand alone and in many instances won’t make complete sense without reference to the book. Yet, besides adding visual and documentary depth to the story (“surface” might be a better word), there are details in the accompanying commentary that didn’t make it into print.
I’ve listed an abbreviated table of contents first for orientation. Then photographs, commentary and other material have been posted chapter by chapter.
American Honor Killings
1. Introduction: Species and Reality
2. Matson, Mowder, and the Williams Brothers, 1999
3. Bad-Good, Not Good
4. Domer, Qualls, and Madden, 2007
5. A Pretty Mouth
6. Parrish, Rawlings, Hollis, and Flythe, 2008
7. Gangs and Loners
8. Weber and Katehis, 2009
for Chapter 1/Introduction: Species and Reality
Besides introducing the entire subject of men killing men where a sexual issue was at play, and doing it in the most open-ended way possible so that what I write will be more a window on the world than a political argument, I also briefly review the famous “Jenny Jones” case from 1995. This was one of the early, galvanizing “gay panic” cases.
Below is a picture of the killer, Jonathan Schmitz, in court. It captures his striking looks but not his green eyes. This picture and the following shots from the Jenny Jones show all originally appeared on Court TV, which covered the trials extensively. Court TV is now part of TruTV.
Here are three interesting shots that epitomize the action on the fateful Jenny Jones “Secret Admirer” show that was never broadcast.
Finally, this is a more recent (2008) photograph of Jonathan from the Michigan Department of Corrections. He’s obviously changed greatly and adopted prison style to some degree.
for Chapter 2/Matson, Mowder and the Williams Brothers, 1999
Here (below) is a shot of the lovely countryside around Sutter Buttes near where Matthew and Tyler Williams were raised. Below the photo is a watercolor view of Sutter Buttes painted by Sally Donner Williams, the boys’ mother. She took up painting around the time Matthew returned from the Navy in Seattle. His daughter was born out of wedlock there (to the Williams family, "out of wedlock" mattered a great deal). Sally had a website devoted to her paintings of flowers, chickens, fish, landscapes and more until relatively recently.
Below are two shots of Matthew from his University days in Moscow, Idaho. He was majoring in Biology. They’re courtesy of Jeff Monroe. In one Matthew mugs as Groucho Marx at Monroe’s home. In the other he’s giving a reading of his poetry. (According to the poster behind him, he’s reading at “A night of the spoken word” at the Vandal Café, which identifies the scene as a University of Idaho campus building, since the school is home to the “Vandals.”)
I’ve studied these two pictures at length looking for some clue to Matthew’s emotionalism and increasingly wild ideas at the time, but I find them unremarkable, even impenetrable, except for the interesting fact that he’s “performing” in both of them.
These are shots of the fire-bomb damage to the B’nai Israel library from a tenth anniversary issue of the congregation newsletter, Koleinu. This was Matthew and Tyler’s first attack. For a while services had to be held in a courtyard. Synagogues from all over the country contributed books to reconstitute the congregation’s lost library. The third picture shows the restoration.
The victims (below), Gary Matson (AP photo) and Winfield Mowder. From an obituary of Gary in Fremontia, a local horticultural newsletter: “Throughout his life Gary was a teacher. Besides his popular classes at Shasta College, he led hundreds of field trips and nature walks . . . Going on a casual hike with him was an adventure; inevitably one would learn something new. He was a teacher at all levels. For many years he made time to roam the Trinity Alps with a noted Dutch botanist. He maintained correspondence with plant specialists all over the world, and his expertise was sought by many horticultural and botanical professionals in the region. One of his unfinished projects was a field guide to the native flora of the area.”
And here are newspaper photographs of Matthew and Tyler. These were posted on Salon to accompany Sam Stanton and Gary Delsohn’s excellent article on the case. A link to the Salon article is below the photographs.
This is an interesting PDF of an article by Faye Springer of the Sacramento DA’s office reviewing forensic evidence in the case. Note that Matthew and Tyler are referred to by their “proper” names “Benjamin Matthew Williams” and “James Tyler Williams.”
Summer of Hate/Forensics Report (20.2KB)
Below is a legal summary of events connected with the escape excerpted from an unrelated appeal of his own death sentence by Paul Gordon Smith Jr. (Please excuse the poor image quality. You'll have to click to expand each page to make it legible. And, again, Matthew’s “proper” name “Benjamin” is used.)
Before his death Matthew engaged in a voluminous correspondence from prison. He wrote many letters to newspapers. The following drawings were (I think) sent to R. Downey who, along with Garth Powell, compiled a collection of “letters and artwork from folks in the BIG HOUSE,” especially notorious killers. Playroom Press published the collection as Manson Family Picnic. (There’s now a Brooklyn Band with the same name.) I found Matthew's pictures among those posted on the book’s website, mansonfamilypicnic.com, and I've linked below to that site and to the book on Amazon.
I’ve studied these drawings of Matthew's in detail and have looked up every reference I can make out. They’re an incredible window into his confused, hyper-allusive engagement with the world.
(Below, click to expand) In “The Destruction of the Magog MATRIX” I’ll simply note that Satan looms at the vanishing point, and the clusters of buildings seem to represent “Jewish” New York, “Catholic” Rome, some Islamic capital, Moscow and two others, one generically labeled “State Churches.” The levitating pyramid, which bears allusions to the Tabernacle, flames with the Tetragrammaton YHWH (in English letters) meaning Yahweh. The spiky objects floating around the “matrix” look a lot like the diagrams of anti-bodies often published in articles about AIDS at the time (1999). The meteoric little triangle or pyramid is labeled “Dan 2.44,” a verse which reads in the King James Version: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” The drawing is a fantasia of symbolism too personal to signify anything clearly.
(Below, click to expand) Here Matthew has written (with hints of racist typography) song lyrics from Nine Inch Nails and RaHoWa as well as an Ayn Rand quotation (from Dagny Taggard in Atlas Shrugged) along with musical notes—indicating it, too, should be sung? The computer mouse-like/spermatozoon design is indecipherable to me. Is it a bomb containing Uranium 239 and a cross? Matthew did attend the Navy’s “Nuke School” in Florida.
for Chapter 3/Bad-Good, Not Good
I mention the “Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act” finally passed and signed by President Obama. Here’s a Senate Version of the bill back when it was known as “The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.” It’s substantially the same as the final bill.
for Chapter 4/Domer, Qualls and Madden 2007
This is a picture of Darrell Lynn Madden, Chaos Squad General, gang traitor and murderer. It’s an Oklahoma Department of Corrections photograph from December 2005, taken after Darrell was arrested for impersonating a police officer. It’s very difficult to imagine how different he looks today with very long hair and many tattoos he says he’d like to have covered up.
Below is Madden as he looked after his capture for the murder of Bradley Qualls, his partner in crime. Note the black sling. Darrell’s right shoulder was hit during a shootout and his radial nerve severed. He underwent seven surgeries but still has only limited use of his arm. Also notice the many additional tattoos he got in prison after the Mexican interlude. Some of them are specifically related to Chaos Squad. Though Darrell already had some tattoos which aren’t visible in the photographs above, a description and complete list of body marks by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections now reads as follows (NCIC stands for “National Crime Information Center” which keeps standardized lists of body marks and tattoos):
White Male; 5 ft. 9 in. tall; 170 pounds; Brown hair; Green eyes;
HEAD: TAT C BACK BURNING SPADE
SC L ARM: NCIC GUNSHOT WOUND
SHL: TAT R TRIBAL BAND
TAT BACK: NCIC "NEO NAZI", SWASTIKA
TAT CHEST: NCIC "GOD'S GRACE IS THE WHITE RACE", NAZI EAGLE
TAT L ARM: NCIC "HEAD"
TAT L CALF: NCIC SYMBOL, SKULL
TAT L LEG: NCIC COVERUP, PENTAGRAM
TAT LF ARM: NCIC IRON CROSS, FLAMES, EYES
TAT NECK: NCIC "SO CAL", "KI SQUAD SKINHEAD", "SS"
TAT R ARM: NCIC "HEAD", SKULL, "666", IRON CROSS
TAT R CALF: NCIC CLOWN
TAT R CHK: NCIC TEARDROP
TAT R LEG: NCIC CLOWN
TAT R SHLD: NCIC SWASTIKA
Here’s a closer view of Darrell during the trial for Steve Domer’s murder (below). You can make out “Skin Head” on his eyebrows and the teardrop “wet and lined” on the right side, which he explained stood for a gang murder.
And here (below) is Steve Domer, the man Bradley and Darrell kidnapped, beat and murdered. The murder was supposed to be Bradley’s gang initiation. Steve’s brother, Mort, recalls that Steve was rather tall and on the trim side. This photo may give the misleading impression that Steve was heavier than he was.
The picture below shows Darrell in court during the trial for murdering the man he now calls “Mr. Domer.” Susan Domer, the victim’s cousin, wrote an article for the Fort Wayne Reader in 2009, while she was performing, ironically, the part of Sister Prejean in Dead Man Walking. Her interesting article discusses Darrell at length and reads in part: “Forgive?!? I can’t see that happening for me. I cannot see me extending the gift of forgiveness to someone so contemptible. And now, I’m confronted with this pesky forgiveness dilemma every night at rehearsal for the play Dead Man Walking . . .” Later she writes about the remarkable denouement of the trial: “And then in Oct. 2008, in a courtroom in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, he decided to own up to his role in Steven Domer’s death. He was actually participating in his own redemption. Just when the family was hunkering down for a trial of denial, he turned the tables on us. Darrell Madden surprised everyone; the judge, the prosecutor, our family and the media by confessing to the murder of Steven Domer. Mort Domer, Steven’s brother refused to allow Madden to plead guilty until they sat down across the table from each other. Seasoned, jaded, law enforcement officials stood around slack-jawed as Darrell Madden answered all of Mort’s questions about the murder. All of Oklahoma City watched in amazement as these two men talked about the details of Steven Domer’s murder, with the event topping the evening news throughout the region.” Susan, however, writes that she’s still not ready to forgive. There's a link to her article below the photo.
Here’s what the picture was ultimately used for—the cover of one of Darrell’s porn films.
for Chapter 5/A Pretty Mouth
After a general discussion of some notions of masculinity and sexual anxiety, this chapter turns to a review of the murder of Billy Jack Gaither back in 1999. Coming on the heels of Matthew Shepard’s murder and that of James Byrd Jr., this case got a great deal of attention, including a Presidential statement (Clinton) and an excellent documentary by Frontline. PBS still maintains web pages for this show, “Assault on Gay America,” and they are full of information and resources related to the case.
First, this studio portrait of Billy Jack was widely disseminated after his murder (below).
Billy Jack’s very unequal killers were the domineering ex-con Steven Eric Mullins (below, top) and the star-struck kid, Charles Monroe Butler, known as Charelsy (below, bottom). (These mug shots are very low quality, but pictures of the pair are hard to come by. The one of Charlesy is credited “CNN/FILE.”)
This is how the trailer Steve was staying in at the time looks today (below). Steve lived here with Charlesy’s half brother through whom the two met. After nearly killing Billy Jack in the Talladega National Forest, they drove him here, collected some gear and headed to Peckerwood Creek where Billy Jack came to and struggled. After Steve killed him “again,” the two burned his body.
The three got into Billy’s car together. At some point during the evening there was a promise of sex. Steve says it was all planned beforehand. Charelsy denies it. They would have driven past Billy Jack’s church on the right where he sang in the choir. Here’s the church today (below). After stopping by Charlesy’s house, where the younger man cleaned up, they continued out along the Millerville Highway toward a series of small lakes called “the watersheds” in Talladega National Forest.
The dirt roads in the forest become increasingly rough and winding. The group had to make another left to arrive at the remote boat ramp (below) where they stopped and got out of the car. Steve stabbed Billy Jack in the back. He then threw the knife into the water.
for Chapter 6/Parrish, Rawlings, Hollis and Flythe, 2008
Below is Steven Hollis’s family home, just a few blocks from school. The two Stevens often spent the night together here or at the Parrish home.
Finally, this is the kind of picture we’ve all seen a thousand times on the local news, the High School portrait broadcast ever so briefly to illustrate some tragedy. To me the televised fleetingness of these images and their hokey, forgettable design make them seem more memento mori than memorial. Yet it’s a great picture of Steven.
for Chapter 7/Gangs and Loners
First, a 1977 trial photograph of Leonardo Vitale, the “crazy Mafioso” whose story, unexpectedly, resonates with ideas and feelings about masculinity addressed in American Honor Killings. Next is a portrait of Vitale as a young man. (The first picture is from Wikipedia, which credits Franco Zecchin. The second is from the site linked to below.)
for Chapter 8/Weber and Katehis, 2009
There’s an incredible wealth of online material related to the case of John Katehis. The people involved were all over the internet. Some of the many, many pictures of John were taken from MySpace and put up on Gawker a day or two after the murder. I spent a lot of time in John’s presence in Court and I think this picture captures something about him better than any other. It was taken after his arrest upstate. The sixteen-year-old had been driven back to Brooklyn and kept up all night making statements. His clothes were taken as evidence, so when he emerged from the station house he was wearing oversized clothing provided by the police. His upper lip is slightly swollen from a struggle during his capture.
There are so many pictures of John I thought I’d post them in bunches. This first group emphasizes John’s kid-like side. The Satanic and “fuck you” ones wouldn’t necessarily be disturbing except in retrospect. The first one clearly shows his 666/pentagram/Diablo tattoo. Apparently, the one long arm of this pentagram makes it “properly” Satanic. The third picture shows what may be the Harley jacket he wore to George’s the night of the murder and in his DVD confession. Then there’s a series of self-portraits he posted as “greeksatan92” to vampirefreaks.com. (All the pictures expand.)
These pictures—the ones that disturbed Gawker readers and others so much—are of John showing off his knife collection. The first one shows the whole collection laid out. The next four with a blank television in the background seem to be from one photo session. His hair is shaved in the one taken in front of the door. (The last three will expand if you click on them.)
Here’s the victim, George Weber, a radio newsman known as “the news guy.” Lately, he’d had to struggle a bit for jobs and had started a blog. Next is a photo of him with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg from when George worked on the Mayor’s radio show. George’s connections in the media led to early accusations that his case was being given special treatment, even that John was being railroaded.
Below is a shot of the street on Sunday, when the crime was discovered. George’s building is at the far left. One of the two street-facing windows of his parlor floor apartment is cut off in this picture.
Talking Points/Reader's Guide
1) Somewhat provocatively, the book identifies as “Honor Killings” murders conventionally known as “hate crimes” or “gay panic killings.” The usage appears to complicate understanding of these events. Why would the author introduce ambiguity into the description of acts about which there’s no ethical doubt that they’re wrong, even evil?
2) And where exactly is honor located in the various cases? It’s fairly clear that Steve Mullins felt his personal honor affronted by Billy Jack Gaither’s proposition. And the murder of Steven Parrish was prompted by a notion of “gang honor.” But in the other cases the honor motive is more obscure. The author suggests Darrell Madden acted with a certain unconscious sense of “dishonor.” What about the Williams brothers or John Katehis? Were they simply insane, or did their actions play off a broader cultural conception of honor?
3) The book concentrates on the dark heart of violence in young men. But unquestionably most of the killers are to some degree sociopathic or otherwise psychologically damaged. So what’s the relevance of the stories to the rest of us and to society?
4) The book’s emphasis is on the killers. Is it possible to imagine a way to heal or tame the violence and anger of these men? How could they have been raised or educated differently? Is it even possible to derive practical or political conclusions from stories so full of specific detail and paradox?
5) It’s uncomfortable to identify with the people described in this book, but should we? Do we? The author briefly mentions his own identification both with Darrell Madden and Madden’s victim Steve Domer. What can a reader get out of experiencing such feelings?
6) Who’s really gay or bisexual or straight? The author says that Steve Mullins now identifies himself as “bisexual” but adds that one of Mullins’ friends considers the killer “basically straight” because his bisexuality doesn’t appear “innate.” Are there two kinds of sexuality corresponding roughly to the “genotype” and “phenotype” of biologists, that is, inborn and expressed? Is one more privileged than the other?
7) The sexual roles of top and bottom form a ground bass to many people’s notions of masculinity (often treated as winner/loser or strong/weak). Does moral content inhere in either role? Is one or the other good or bad? Why?
8) The writer comes to these stories from a literary viewpoint, not that of an activist or of a gender studies or gay studies academic. How might the treatment of an academic or activist have differed? And what does his perspective have to offer academics and activists?
9) The author seems to follow the pattern of legal “case histories,” one enriched by literary technique, in recounting these crimes. Is his tone the legal pose of objectivity or classic artistic coldness? Do the author’s opinions or prejudices eke through in places? Does he seem an honest broker? Do you feel able to make your own judgments about what happened?
10) Masculinity or ideas of masculinity are key to the events described in the book. Will women and men have fundamentally different readings of these cases? Gay and straight people?
11) Is there a real relationship between sex and violence or is it just a resemblance? Recent studies show the human brain processes simile and metaphor quite differently. Scientists were amazed to see widely separated parts of the brain become active when a person hears, for example, “The snow is sugar” and “The snow is like sugar.” What might happen if we tried the experiment using the words “sex” and “violence?”
12) Because the book concentrates on the link between ideas of sex and violence in a purely masculine context, all the cases involve gay victims or victims thought to be gay. But the violence described could easily have been visited on members of any out-group, Jews, African-Americans. To what extent does youthful masculine violence seem directed at a particular group and to what extent is it simply explosive?