Notorious San Francisco: Lake and Ng
When employees at the South City Lumber and Supply Co. in South San Francisco fingered Leonard Lake and Charles Ng for shoplifting on June 2, 1985, they had no idea their call to police would expose one of the country's most horrific cases of serial murder. Questioned by police at the lumber store, 39 year old San Francisco native Lake was arrested for carrying a loaded 22-caliber revolver and silencer. Ng split the scene. Later the same day, Lake identified Ng before swallowing a cyanide capsule while police interrogated Lake about the November 2, 1984 disappearance of Paul Cosner, the San Francisco used car dealer whose stolen Honda Lake was driving. Lake died four days later without regaining consciousness. Meanwhile, police staked out the house at 136 Lenox Way in San Francisco's West Portal neighborhood where 24 year old Ng rented a basement apartment. The two were now suspects in the disappearance of a San Francisco family earlier in 1985, as well as a number of unrelated disappearances of people whose names Lake gave as aliases at different times during questioning. Police were not yet aware just how high the body count would go. With Lake dead and Ng on the lam, police discovered a killing field of up to 25 men, women, and children who were victims of sex torture before being murdered, burned and scattered on Lake's isolated Calaveras County property in Wilseyville, a hundred miles north of the City. Lake was described as a loner, a weapons enthusiast, and a Vietnam veteran who romanticized his experiences as a U.S. Marine. His criminal record included a 1980 arrest for grand theft and 1982 weapons charges in Mendocino County. Ng was also a U.S. Marine veteran. He served less than two years of a 14 year sentence for stealing weapons, including machine guns and grenade launchers, from Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station before his release in June, 1984. At the house on Lenox Way, police found a video that showed Lake and Ng menacing two of the victims. Authorities were later able to isolate a single frame of video that showed wrapped corpses being moved in a wheel barrow. Ng was arrested for shoplifting in Calgary, Canada on July 6, 1985. His murder trial in the U.S. began in October, 1998 after thirteen years of legal proceedings related to extradition, venue, the preparation of Ng's defense by his attorneys, and a host of filings and delays initiated by Ng. During the trial in Orange County, defense attorneys attempted to prove Ng was only a bystander in Lake's crimes and that Lake's ex-wife Claralyn Balazs was the real partner in crime. The cost of Ng's prosecution was the most expensive in the state's history, more than $10 million. When the trial ended eight months later, Ng was convicted for the murders of three women, seven men, and two babies. Victims included Harvey Dubs of San Francisco, Dubs' wife Deborah and their 16 month old son Sean, San Francisco disc jockey Donald Giuletti, and Giuletti's roommate, Richard Carrazza. The jury deadlocked on a charge for the murder of Paul Cosner. Judge John J. Ryan sentenced Charles Ng to death for his crimes. 

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