“They scream so loud I can’t hear myself”
Leonard Lake was born on 29 October 1945 in San Francisco, California. His mother encouraged him in an unusual hobby — photographing naked girls, including his sisters and cousins. He began having sex with one sister in return for protecting her from their violent little brother, Donald.
In 1966 he joined the US Marines but was demobbed in 1971 after two years of psychiatric counselling. Back in civvy street, he moved to San Jose and got married but his propensity for photographing women in bondage scenes soon led to his divorce. In 1980 he received a year’s probation for theft. In August 1981 he married again and moved to a communal ranch in Ukiah, California, a weird place that had medieval outfits and “unicorns” (surgically altered goats).
Soon after he met Charles Chitat Ng (pronounced Ing) a violent juvenile delinquent who had been born in Hong Kong on 24 December 1961. The FBI arrested both men in April 1982 for weapons violations. Lake fled but Ng spent 18 months in jail. On his release, the two men met again. Lake was living in seclusion near Wilseyville, a region 240 km (150 mi) east of San Francisco, where he had stockpiled illegal weapons and stolen video equipment.
On Sunday 2 June 1985 Ng walked into South City lumberyard and stole a $75 vice, which he put in the boot of a nearby 1980 Honda Prelude (registration 838WFQ), before running away. When the police arrived the car was still there and at the wheel was a bearded man who said his name was Robin Stapley but he did not look like the photo on his driving licence.
Arrested, he managed to take a cyanide pill and died on 6 June. He was identified as Leonard Lake. When police searched Lake’s home they found that the video equipment had been used to make porn films showing women stripping before being raped and tortured. The two men in the films were Leonard Lake and Charles Ng. Twenty-one women were in the videos and six were found alive. The other 15, it was suspected, were murdered at the ranch. Ng told a friend, “You should hear the screams. Sometimes I have to gag them because they scream so loud I can’t hear myself.”
Wilseyville, Calaveras County, California, USA
A warrant was issued for the arrest of Ng for 12 murders: Kathleen Allen, her boyfriend Michael Carroll, Robin Scott Stapley, Randy Johnson, Charles Gunnar (Lake’s best man), Donald Lake (Lake’s brother), Paul Cosner, (the owner of the Honda Prelude), Brenda O’Connor, Lonnie Bond Sr, Lonnie Bond Jr, (Lake’s neighbours) and Harvey, Deborah and Sean Dubs. Ng was arrested on 6 July 1985 as he shoplifted at The Bay department store in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
He was finally deported to America on 26 September 1991. In October 1998 after 13 years of delays and extended legal arguments, Ng’s trial began. On 11 February 1999 after eight months the jury found Ng guilty of the murders of six men, three women and two baby boys. He was sentenced to death.