Summer of Terror

By Christina and Kendra

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Case Summery

In the state of California in the summer months of 1999, brothers Benjamin and James Williams set out on a violent rampage of hate crimes that would ultimately lead to their arrest and conviction. The two men were white supremacists who believed that committing these crimes was a part of their Devine destiny in this world. The Williams' crimes included many such as the burning down of B'Nai Israel Synagogue and a medical clinic that housed abortions in Sacramento, and also the murder of a an openly gay couple in Redding. An endless string of trace evidence led to their arrest on July 7, 1999. After being denied a Daubert ruling by the federal court, the brothers were sent temporarily to a jail in Redding, where Benjamin committed suicide and James pleaded guilty to charges of arson and murder. He will be spending the rest of his life in jail.

Synagogue Fires

On July 18, 1999. A synagogue in Sacramento was burned destroying the library. 45 minutes later fires were set to two other synagogues. They used oil to start the fires. Because the buildings were completely destroyed there was evidence left behind. This includes, three black one gallon Mobil oil jugs with “Delvac 1300 Super” labels in two different colors . A torn piece of fabric was tied around the handle of the jugs. Tufts of trace debris could be seen adhering to the oily mouth of these jugs. From this they got trace evidence which was, paint chips with a light blue top coat over a red layer, red plastic chip, white cotton strips of fabric, white and brown dog hairs, numerous feathers primarily white and brown in color , numerous miscellaneous fibers of various types and colors.

This evidence was important to finding the Williams brothers because all of the trace evidence from the three crimes linked them together. Each piece helped in a different way. Glass on the black wrecking bar recovered from the Williams’ vehicle was similar in refractive index to the glass from a broken window at B’Nai Israel. Paint on the broken glass of the window at B’Nai Israel was similar to the wrenching bar paint from the Williams’ vehicle. Oil jugs similar to the Mobil oil jug from Williams’ Palo Cedro Residence. Dog hairs and feathers on the mouth of the oil jugs and rags tied to the oil jugs were similar to animals at the Palo Cedro residence. Blue over red paint chips on the mouth of the oil jugs were similar to the paint from the shed at the Palo Cedro residence.Newspaper in the bottom of a crate left at the synagogue arson was from the Redding area.A palm print on one Anti-Jewish flyer left at the synagogues was identified as from (Benjamin) Matson.

Murdered Gay Couple

On July 1, 1999 Gary and Winfred were murdered in their beds while sleeping. They died in a small community by redding, California. Their vehicle and some credit cards were stolen. A break in the case was found when their stolen credit card was used to order ammunition and to be shipped to Yuba City, California. The police arrested them while picking up the the ammunition and arrested them then searched their car and found weapons one being the weapon used to kill Gary and Winfred. They were then arrested for murder.

This crime didn't have much trace evidence left behind but the stole credit cards acted as a big connection. This evidence led to the arrest of the Williams brothers and the discovery of more evidence in their car. The evidence found in their car led to a connection with the burning of the synagogues because of the black pry bar and black wrecking bar, purchased before the burning of the synagogues.

Burned Abortion Clinic

On July 2, 1999 an abortion clinic was burned. Originally they believed the owner to be responsible in order to collect insurance money. The next day the found the Williams brothers car abandoned in Orville. When the open the door to search the car they noticed a gasoline smell. Some of the glass on the pry bar was similar in refractive index to the only existing broken window of the clinic. A garbage truck driver saw two men in jumpsuits speed away from the clinic in a dark box shaped car similar to Gary's.


This additional evidence from the crime led to a search warrant of the the Williams house, their parents house and their vehicle.

Daubert Standard

The Daubert standard was created in result of the Supreme Court Case known as the Daubert trilogy. The conclusion drawn in these cases was that evidence not specific enough to the potential perp (trace evidence) cannot convict them unless it is tested by experts well enough to become individual evidence. The Williams brothers requested this standard be looked into for their trial because the detectives found a numerous amount of trace evidence alone. However, in their case, the trace evidence was in such a numerous amount that their judges overruled their request for the standard. They had enough trace evidence against them to get a confession out of the men.