By M.P. Pellicer | Stranger Than Fiction Stories
During the summer of 1970, James Michael Schlosser, 22, a social worker from Great Falls, Montana paid the ultimate price for an act of kindness.
July, 1970, Montana
It wasn't until Stanley Dean Baker, 22, and Harry Allen Stroup, 20, both from Wyoming were arrested that police knew where to find what was left of James Schlosser back in Montana.
The arrest was the result of when a yellow Opel Kadett was involved in a hit-and-run accident in Salinas, California. Two long-haired, hippie types were stopped when they matched the description of the men that fled the scene where three persons had been injured. Later investigation would prove the vehicle belonged to James Schlosser.
Both suspects had fingers in their pockets which police mistook as chicken bones. They also found a copy of the Satanic Bible.
Baker who called himself "Jesus", then volunteered that he had been the victim of an electrical accident at the age of 17 "and I haven't been the same since." His later admission was more shocking. "I have this problem... I'm a cannibal... "
Baker had been hitchhiking when Schlosser who was bound for a weekend with some friends at Yellowstone Park gave him a ride,
Baker asked to be taken to the home of a foreman for a job he hoped to get, this was only a ruse to take him to a lonely spot where he was killed.
The headless, limbless torso, with its heart missing was found floating in the Yellowstone River, about four miles north of the town of Gardiner by a fisherman on July 11. The secluded spot was "saturated with bone chips, flesh and blood." A 12-inch knife was left behind.
The murder scene was across the river from the "Devil's Slide" a large, red clay formation that can be viewed from Highway 89. It was named thus in August 1870, by the Washburn–Langford–Doane Expedition.
Baker said he ate the heart raw, severed some fingers, cut up the body in six pieces and scattered the parts.
Authorities dragged the Yellowstone River in an effort to retrieve the rest of Schlosser's body, but the river was high and swift, and nothing was recovered.
Baker said he and Stroup had split up before the social worker was killed and then met again in Big Sur. The prosecution was unable to present concrete evidence linking both men were present at the scene of Schlosser's death.
By November 1970, the pair had been returned to Montana, and Stroup was sentenced to 10 years at hard labor in the Montana State Prison. Baker, pled guilty and was sentenced to serve a life term.
After his own conviction, Baker testified during Stroup's trial that they had both taken LSD the night of Schlosser's death. He was questioned if knew a Bobby Salem in San Francisco. He took the 5th amendment. Then he was asked if he killed Salem, cut off his ear, cooked it and ate it. He pleaded the 5th again.
Robert Salem, 40, had been found dead on April 19, in his plush hippie-style home where he made hurricane lamps. He was beaten and had multiple stab wounds in the back. His throat had been cut and his left ear was missing. The apartment had been completely ransacked. A coroner's deputy at the time, described the case as "a Zodiac-style murder".
Stroup retold where Baker had admitted killing a man who had made "sexual advances."
In June, 1970, the men drifted to Canada with a third man named Evan Brohard in order to avoid the draft. They returned to the United States later in the summer. Brohard died in a one-car accident near Roundup, Montana on August 23.
Baker's testimony during the trial told of cannibalism, satanic worship, drugs and murder.
Under questioning by the defense lawyer during his trial, Baker described "super-human mental powers" that came about after he studied the "bible of the satanic father which had led him to communication with inter-celestial beings and a direct role in the death of pop singer Jimi Hendrix in England this fall."
Baker said, "We had a war going on between us. He (Hendrix) had fired on me close as I can remember about the age of 10 and I had a direct contribution to the death of Jimi Hendrix."
He even claimed he could change the weather.
Baker told of being recruited by satanists on a college campus in Wyoming. He became a member of the "Four P Movement". He swore allegiance to the cult's master known as the "Grand Chingon". The group he described was responsible for human sacrifices committed in the Santa Ana Mountains, south of L.A. He displayed cult tattoos, and eventually confessed to the murder of Robert Salem.
According to Baker, Salem's murder was ordered by the Grand Chingon. Salem's blood was used to write "Zodiac" and "Satan Saves" on the wall of his apartment. Bloody fingerprints at the scene were matched to Baker.
The San Francisco DA allowed Montana to try Baker first, and they lost their chance to prosecute him for Salem's murder when a California court ruled the delay violated Baker's right to a speedy trial.
Once incarcerated, Baker continued in the cult's activities by procuring members for the coven from among the inmates. During full moons he would crouch in his cell and howl like a wolf. He threatened the correction officers, and after 11 separate incidents where weapons were taken from him, he was moved to a maximum security prison in Illinois.
Under stricter discipline he became a model prison, but still identified as a Luciferian. Ironically the Church of Satan rejected his application for membership in 1976.
Stroup was released in 1979, after serving two of his 10 year sentence, and Baker was paroled in 1985.
In 1991, Maury Terry, told The Missoulian that while Robert Salem was not considered a Zodiac victim, there were ties to the investigation.
"There is no doubt that Baker was involved in the Salem case, and we're saying that people involved in Baker's (occult) group are absolutely involved in the Zodiac murders."
Terry referenced the murder of Cecilia Ann Shepard killed in September, 1969, by a hooded man with the Zodiac's crossed-circle symbol sewn into his windbreaker. This was considered a Zodiac case.
The assailant tied up Shepard and her companion Bryan Hartnell. The murderer told them he was an escaped convict from Deer Lodge. He demanded money and the keys to the their vehicle, which he failed to take after attacking them.
He stabbed Shepard with a "long thin knife" while she was bound with a plastic clothesline. When she turned over as a reflex to the pain she was stabbed once in each breast, once in the groin and once in the abdomen — forming the pattern of a cross. Even though both survived the initial attack she succumbed a few days later.
Montana State Prison is located in Deer Lodge, Montana, and Terry pointed out that Shepard was killed by Baker or by someone associated with him. He said, "How many people would know where such a place is? And how many would know there is a state prison there? It's obvious he was involved in some way."
Terry believed that at least one person carried out the Zodiac murder and another wrote the letters to the newspapers.
In the spring of 1991, a reporter had tracked Baker down to his home in Minnesota where he lived after being paroled, and he appeared on the television program A Current Affair.
Baker died in 1994.
In 2019, the Montana Supreme Court dismissed an appeal on a case involving Stroup after it was learned he had died. He had been incarcerated for possession of dangerous drugs and was appealing the conviction.
Sources - Raising Hell by Michael Newton, Great Falls Tribune, The Billings Gazette, The Montana Standard, The Missoulian
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