Stuart Alexander (businessman and murderer)

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Stuart Charles Alexander
Born (1961-03-22)March 22, 1961
San Leandro, California, U.S.
Died December 27, 2005(2005-12-27) (aged 44)
San Quentin, California, U.S.
Other names "The Sausage King" (self-proclaimed name)
Occupation businessman, owner of Santos Linguisa Sausage Factory, political candidate
Criminal charge
three counts of first-degree murder
Criminal penalty
Death by lethal injection (died while on death row)
Children none
Parents Shirley Eckhart and Herman "Tweedy" Alexander
Conviction(s) 2004

Stuart Charles Alexander (March 22, 1961 – December 27, 2005) was a businessman and inheritor of the Santos Linguisa Sausage Factory, which was founded by a late great aunt, Pia Santos and her husband Antonio in San Leandro, California in 1921.[1] Alexander was convicted in 2004 of the murder of three state and USDA meat compliance officials in 2000.

Biographical sketch[edit]

Early life and family[edit]

Born the middle child of three sons of Shirley Eckhart (born January 18, 1934) and the late Herman "Tweedy" Alexander (b. January 1, 1934- d. May 31, 1993), Alexander, whose paternal family roots could be traced back to Portugal, was a lifelong resident of San Leandro, California. He would inherit the family business, The Santos Linguica Factory and then would proclaim himself the "Sausage King," after the death of his father, who had successfully run the once thriving business for many years, (apparently without complaints from and apparently favors from state and federal inspectors) in 1993. Alexander's father, Tweedy, had been well known in the local and national business circles as an astute businessman, and had been recognized and renowned for making arguably the finest linguica sausage in the Bay Area, if not nationwide. He had been grooming the young Stuart for years, particularly after the death of his eldest son, Stephen (1958–1977), who died at the age of eighteen in a motorcycle accident. Stephen was set to inherit the reins of the company, but after his passing, all that changed. Tweedy had no choice but to pass the reins to the next eldest son, Stuart. However, Tweedy had little faith that Stuart could run the company. Stuarts father was verbally abusive to his son, often telling him that he would "never amount to anything".

Relations with others[edit]

By many accounts of acquaintances of the family, the relationship between the father Tweedy and the young Stuart was very rocky, at best. By the account of his mother Shirley, who divorced Tweedy when Stuart was ten, Tweedy could at times be very demanding with the son, and "yelled at him all the time", especially when, at times with him at the factory during the summers and weekends, young Stuart made a mistake. Coupled with this and the breakup of his parents marriage in 1971, this apparently had helped to cultivate a deep-seated anger and resentment that often manifested violently in relations with other people from a young age. Alexander, who was described by some who knew him closely to have a "short fuse", and to be at times "combative", was charged with beating Clifford Berg, 75, an elderly neighbor, after an argument in 1996. One person who owned a printing shop near the linguisa factory, Richard Miller, 38, said during the murder trial before the grand jury, that Alexander "didn't like the idea of people telling him what to do", with his business, and that he was "very anti-authority", at least from what he knew about the sausage maker.[2]

Circumstances leading to murders[edit]

It was alleged by those that were close to him that Alexander would often keep e-mails and letters from the meat compliance officers mockingly "harassing" him and show them to his secretary, and his mother. In spite of this, the business did continue to thrive, at least for a time, and this helped to earn the ever hard-working and ambitious Alexander recognition within the local civic and political circles, not much unlike his father. Perhaps partially inspired by the perceived harassment of the state and USDA inspection practices, Alexander made a failed electoral campaign for San Leandro Mayoral Office in 1998.

Still, with the business still in the black, Alexander did find time to start a romantic relationship with Eve Elder, a 33-year-old insurance claims agent, around 1995. As the relationship wore on, however, Elder would later see some odd signs of the potentially deadly violent streak in Alexander, especially when commenting about the inspectors. In what had started out as a joke, the couple concocted a series of short stories; one, titled "Sausage Sniffers Found Sauced", painted a description of the inspectors drowning in vats of 'secret sauce'. Soon, the tone of Alexander's words would take on a much darker tone. As another former girlfriend, Charlotte Knapp, 38, who had been seeing Alexander off and on up until the time of the murders, would later testify during the murder trial, Alexander frequently used profanities to describe the inspectors and would at times have some choice words ready for them, or for anyone else whom he deemed as "trespassers" that came upon his factory. On occasion wielding a gun, one of the severalfirearms that he kept in his office desk drawer.

As time went by, Alexander also began to cultivate an increasingly antagonistic and contentious relationship with the four inspectors who were regularly assigned to routinely oversee his business operations in terms of "cooking temperature, cleanliness, and other health concerns". He felt that these inspectors were harassing him unnecessarily, and "interfering with the way his sausage was best made, and had always been made by his family" by demanding that his linguisa be smoked at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which was a state and USDA requirement; Alexander, who usually smoked the linguisa at 144 degrees, would point that the decreased cooking temperature would shrink the sausage size, thereby reducing the cost at which he could sell them. There were also requirements about the type of smoker that could be used; his had been deemed antiquated and outdated, and at least two times the inspectors had the factory shut down, only for him to reopen against the state law. This would also wreak havoc upon his finances; Alexander, who had already been chided by his then girlfriend Eve and mother about his spending habits, was plunging himself deeper and deeper into debt by putting out bank loans in re-opening the factory when the state would shut it down. This caused the once-thriving, now-illegally operated factory to lose more and more money.

Perhaps coupled with that and his workaholic-like ambitions, this would wear heavily on the romance between Elder and Alexander; by the time of the murder trial proceedings began, Elder, as did Knapp sometime beforehand, had broken off their relationship.[3] [4]

Santos Linguisa Factory murders[edit]

At the time leading up to the murders, Alexander posted a sign at the front of the factory stating, "To all of our great customers, the USDA is coming into our plant harassing my employees and me, making it impossible to make our great product. Gee, if all meat plants could be in business for 79 years without one complaint, the meat inspectors would not have jobs. Therefore we are taking legal action against them."

On June 21, 2000, the inspectors, who had expected there to be some difficulty in dealing with Alexander after several past clashes with him, had attempted to contact the San Leandro Police for possible backup after being met by Alexander at the entrance of the factory; the dispatch call had been treated as a routine police call. Still claiming that he was being harassed by the inspectors, Alexander, at the same time attempted to contact the police to report that the inspectors were trespassing. Like the call the inspectors made, it was also treated as low-priority. At the same time, he attempted to catch the inspectors overstepping their bounds by videotaping the visit on the survelliance video camera that he had installed in every room in the factory.

When the inspectors finally entered the premises for their daily inspection, an angered but calm-appearing Alexander would then proceed to retrieve one of his guns from his office drawer, re-enter the lobby room, then shoot and kill, in cold blood, the two USDA inspectors and a state inspector. U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors Jean Hillery, 56, and Thomas Quadros, 52, and state Department of Food and Agriculture Inspector William Shaline, 57, were killed. One California State Inspector, Earl Willis, 51, managed to escape into a nearby bank located there on Washington Street as a now fuming Alexander chased after him down the block, which was recorded on camcorder by the proprietor of one of the nearby businesses.[5] After Alexander's failed attempt to shoot Willis, he immediately went back to his linguisa factory lobby and emptied three more shots into the heads of the victims, making sure that they were dead. The police would soon finally arrive upon the scene within a few minutes only after someone in the bank notified the police department; they would arrive to see a waiting Alexander standing in front of his factory, admitting to the murders and ready to be taken into custody.

Murder trial[edit]

Court proceedings for the trial of Alexander in the slayings of the compliance officers began on Monday, May 2, 2004. The prosecution team introduced forensic evidence as well as the video surveillance tape; it recorded the events from the time the meat inspectors were waiting in the office lobby for the police, who never came, to arrive, until the shooting of the officers at point-blank range. Alexander had unwittingly sealed his fate; he had the video system installed in all the rooms of the factory. The prosecutors also introduced the videotaped footage of the chase of Inspector Willis by Alexander down Washington Street. The prosecutors had aimed to show signs of premeditation in committing the murders; they also introduced the humorous joke "secret sauce" letter Alexander and his ex-girlfriend Eve Elder had written together several years before.[6]

The defense attorneys began preparing Alexander for at least an insanity plea, if not a second-degree murder defense, in order to stave off a possible death sentence if he were convicted; they introduced excerpts of the "harassing" e-mails and official letters made by the inspectors in hopes to show that his act of murder was out of "blind rage". Alexander, who had been held without bail since the time of the shootings, had pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges. His public defender, Michael Ogul, said Alexander lost his temper and killed the inspectors after months of harassment. "Stuart Alexander committed terrible crimes. There's no question of that", Ogul said. "There's no question he did a terrible thing that can't be excused, that can't be forgiven." Ogul said the inspectors "taunted, "pushed, and "provoked" Alexander until he was "blind with rage". Said Ogul: "They knew he was volatile. They (the inspectors) knew he was upset, they knew he was on the edge", Ogul continued. "Stuart Alexander killed them. He hated them, plain and simple."

Conviction[edit]

On October 19, 2004, Alexander was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder, making him eligible to receive the death penalty. On December 14, 2004, a jury condemned Alexander to death by lethal injection.[7] He was convicted of the murders and sentenced to death on February 15, 2005.[8][9]

Alexander's death and aftermath of trial[edit]

While awaiting execution on California's death row at San Quentin State Prison, Alexander, who had gained some eighty pounds during the four years in custody until his stay of execution, began to experience health problems; he would die of a pulmonary embolism on December 27, 2005. The only vestiges of the ordeal with the inspectors that exist is the old factory building on 1745 Washington Avenue, which was sold and then converted into a nightclub by the new owners,[10] as well as the families of the murder victims, who were all grandparents and close to approaching retirement age from their respective jobs. The story would gain national headlines, being shown on the A&E Channel's City Confidential documentary series program in a 2005 episode "The Sausage King, Episode #133".;[11] the case was also spotlighted (focusing specifically on the interactions between Alexander and Jean Hillery) in a similarly titled 2011 episode of the Investigation Discovery program Fatal Encounters.[12]

Memorial ceremonies for inspectors[edit]

In June 2010, a memorial service event was held at the U.S. Federal Food Safety and Inspection Service building located in Alameda, California commemorating the service of the four inspectors, the memory of the three who were slain in the gun attack, and Earl Willis, who had died in 2008 of cancer .[13] The FSIS also held several related special ceremonies commemorating the lives and service of all of the inspectors in Washington D.C., which was a two-day event held on the corner of NW 14th and Jefferson Streets, where decorations with memorial service ribbons were given to the families of the inspectors; the FSIS also held ceremonies in Beltsville, Maryland, and Alameda. The agency also maintains a memorial page to remind employees and the public of the sacrifice made by the inspectors.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sausage Maker Thrives on Link to Portugal / An old home recipe grew into a factory in San Leandro, February 10, 1999, by Tilde Herrera for SFgate.com, accessed 2010-10-27". Articles.sfgate.com. 1999-02-10. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  2. ^ "Owner made threats, records say/Owner often made death threats, by Henry K.Lee, SFGate.com 10/12/2000". Articles.sfgate.com. 2000-10-12. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  3. ^ mindfully.org. "The Sausage King, written by Bud Hazeltkorn, for San Francisco Magazine, October 2001". Mindfully.org. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  4. ^ "Girlfriend says 'Sausage King' wanted to grind up inspectors, Bay City News article, on sfgate.com website, 5-17-2004". Articles.sfgate.com. 2004-05-17. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  5. ^ "Remembering Their Sacrifices; Food Safety Employees Killed In The Line Of Duty, USDA blog, 6/21/2000, accessed 11/18/2010". Blogs.usda.gov. 2010-06-21. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  6. ^ Curtis, Kim (2004-04-27). "survelliance tapes show San Leandro shootings". Legacy.signonsandiego.com. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  7. ^ "'Sausage King' guilty of killing 3 meat inspectors, could get death penalty SFGate.com article, October 19, 2004". Articles.sfgate.com. 2004-10-19. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  8. ^ "Santos Linguisa Factory - Scene of Triple Homicide HTML at San Leandro Bytes website". Sanleandrobytes.com. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  9. ^ KTVU-TV news story with video posted 4/26/2004.
  10. ^ Alameda Times-Star article, 12/30/05.
  11. ^ "City Confidential: San Leandro, CA-"The Sausage King" (Episode #133) at A&E's Bio Channel website". Biography.com. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  12. ^ "The Sausage King". Fatal Encounters. Season 1. 2012-01-18. Investigation Discovery.
  13. ^ "Remembering their sacrifice: Food safety employees killed in the line of duty USDA website blog, posted June 21, 2010". Blogs.usda.gov. 2010-06-21. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  14. ^ Marler, Bill (2010-06-21). "Ceremonies to honor meat inspectors killed in 2000, Food Safety News website, June 21, 2010, accessed 2011-1-3". Foodsafetynews.com. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 

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