By Michele Hanisee
This is the seventh and final article that focuses on the murderers on California’s death row who have exhausted all appeals. The last impediment to executions is a federal stay that is now being challenged by several elected District Attorneys and victims. Newsom’s blocking the execution of these vicious murderers is in direct violation of the will of California voters, who three times in the past seven years, have made it clear they support the death penalty for the most brutal murders. The details of the crimes are not pleasant, but it is critical to remind everyone about the horrific facts which resulted in juries voting to impose a death sentence.
On December 18, 1985, Richard Samayoa brutally killed his neighbors, Nelia Olaya Silva, 33, and her daughter Katherine, 2, after they interrupted him while he was burglarizing their home. As detailed incourt records, Samayoa was convicted in 1988 of fatally bludgeoning Nelia and Katherine by smashing their faces in with a wrench. This gruesome scene was discovered by Nelia’s husband, Ronaldo, who returned home to find his wife and child lying in a pool of blood — both naked from the waist down.
Nelia’s arms, hands, and fingers were bruised. She was struck 24 times. Katherine was struck three times. The force of the beating was so severe that their faces and skulls were crushed. Fragments of their bones penetrated their brains. Mother and daughter bled to death together.
This atrocity was not Samayoa’s first offense. In 1975, he committed a brutal sexual assault on a woman with multiple sclerosis. He and two others broke into the woman’s home and held a knife at her neck. According to the appellate record, “When [the victim] heard a belt buckle being loosened and a zipper unzip, she screamed, ‘Please don’t rape me, I’m a cripple.'” Samayoa raped and forcibly sodomized the helpless victim. Samayoa was convicted for this crime and sentenced to prison.
Five years later, after being released from prison, Samayoa attempted to rape his friend’s sister. Samayoa assaulted the sleeping woman and smashing her face with a pot causing a wound that penetrated her cheekbone. He was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to prison. Samayoa also had a prior conviction for another burglary.
Having been sent to prison four different times for crimes including two heinous murders and the rape of a disabled woman, Samayoa is being shown mercy by Governor Newsom. His action has denied justices for Nelia, Katherine Silva, and Richard Silva.
Anthony Jack Sully
Anthony Sully was a former police officer turned murderer. He was convicted of murdering five women and a man in 1983. He butchered his victims in an electrical supply warehouse. Most of his victim were prostitutes. He beat, stabbed, and shot them. Three of the bodies were found stuffed into drums dumped in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The murders took place over a six-month period where Sully killed his victims during orgies of sex and cocaine.
As detailed in court records, his first victim, Gloria Fravel was a prostitute who worked for an escort service run by Tina Livingston. Because Fravel owed Livingston $500, Anthony Sully thought she deserved to die a prolonged and torturous death. Sully kept Fravel in the back of his warehouse for a whole weekend where he had her gagged, handcuffed, and suspended from the ceiling. After raping her, he re-gagged her and forcibly sodomized her. He placed a noose around her neck and strangled her until she passed out. Sully and his accomplice, Angel Burns, dumped Fravel’s body on the side of a road, after making sure she was dead by hitting her over the head with a hatchet.
His next killings included three victims, Brenda Oakden, Michael Thomas, and Phyllis Melendez. These murders were called the Golden Gate Park Barrel Murders. Brenda Oakden’s murder was orchestrated by Sully, who had asked Livingston to provide him with a prostitute who was new to the business. The other two victims, Michael Thomas and Phyllis Melendez were a pimp and a prostitute that Sully said had ripped him off. Sully admitted that he forced Melendez and Thomas to kneel before him, then shot them both in the back of the head. Oakden, Thomas, and Melendez were all placed in barrels and dumped in Golden Gate Park.
Barbara Searcy was Sully’s next victim. She had seen him on multiple occasions for “dates” where they would have sex and he would sometimes pay her. During one of these “dates”, Sully murdered her by shooting her in the head. The appellate record stated, “[w]hen Livingston returned to the warehouse, [Scully] showed her Searcy’s body, wrapped in opaque plastic sheeting, in a green hamper outside the warehouse. He explained that he had killed Searcy for ‘personal reasons.’ They loaded her body into defendant’s pick-up truck. Defendant said he was going to drag the body so it would be beyond recognition.”
Sully’s final known murder was of Kathryn Barrett, who had gone to his warehouse to sell him cocaine. He and friend, Michael Francis, killed Barrett by stabbing her in the chest and hitting her in the mouth with a sledgehammer.
After being arrested for the murders of Searcy and Barrett, Sully attempted to pay an underage boy to take the blame for the murders. As detailed in an article by Bob Egelko, “The prosecution’s case at the sentencing phase of the trial was ‘staggering,’ the court said, including ‘evidence that Sully derived pleasure from torturing his six murder victims and mutilating their bodies.” At trial, the prosecution presented overwhelming physical and testimonial evidence establishing Sully as the murderer.
As detailed in court records, at the penalty phase, other aggravating circumstances were presented. Sully’s ex-wife testified that Sully became violent and threatening when she decided to divorce him in 1975. On the morning she and her eleven-year-old daughter moved out of Sully’s house, he twisted the heads off her daughter’s pet ducklings and left them in the backyard for his wife and her daughter to find. Sully made threatening calls to his ex-wife telling he tore the ducklings apart to show her that he could do the same to her daughter. He was going to cut up her daughter’s body in cubes and give them to her in cardboard box. Sully threatened to kill her parents, her daughter’s father, and her daughter’s paternal grandmother.
Anthony Jack Sully has been on death row longer than most of his victims lived. There is no doubt about Sully’s guilt. It is beyond comprehension why Gov. Newsome lets a man who tortured his victims, mutilated their bodies, has shown no remorse, and took pleasure from his horrific murders live. Sully is avoiding the justice he so richly deserves. Despite six brutal murders, Gavin Newsom has chosen to ignore the evidence and the will of people by stopping Sully’s execution.
To read parts 1-6 of our Death Penalty series, please click here.
Michele Hanisee is President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.