Suzan and Michael "Bear" Carson
Rap Sheet: Murdered three people between 1981 and 1983
Crime History: When they first met in the late 1970s, James Clifford Carson and Suzan Barnes Carson were seemingly just a couple of divorced parents who fell in love and liked to dabble in drugs and mysticism. They married, spent some time traveling around Europe, and came home having changed their names to Michael and Suzan Bear, self-described pacifist "vegetarian Moslem warriors." While the Carsons' lifestyle maybe seemed harmless on paper, their increasing bizarre behavior caused them to become estranged from friends and family.
Their hodgepodge of new age (Suzan believed she could see the future) and fundamentalist ("homosexuality and abortion are causes for death," they once said) beliefs, exacerbated a drug-induced paranoia, informed the couple's strange moral code. They were on a mission from God to exterminate anyone they believed to be a witch – or anyone who simply got in the way – earning them the nickname the "San Francisco Witch Killers."
In March 1981, while living in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, the Carsons killed their 22-year-old actress roommate Keryn Barnes, bludgeoning her skull with a frying pan, stabbing her 13 times and then hiding her body in the basement. They fled the Bay Area before the body was found, and while they were initially considered suspects by police, law enforcement never put much effort into finding them. (Suzan later confessed to the murder, showing no remorse as she explained that Barnes was a witch and had to be killed.)
After laying low in Oregon until the following spring, the Bears moved to Humboldt County, California, to work on a marijuana farm, developing a reputation for their ramblings about anarchist revolution and impending nuclear war. There, Michael ended up fatally shooting a fellow worker, Clark Stephens, after an ongoing dispute, and burned the body in a nearby woods. Two weeks later, Stephens' charred remains and ID were found and the Bears were at the top of the suspect list, but once again, they were long gone.
Finally, in March 1983, two years after their witch hunt began, the couple was hitchhiking near Bakersfield and accepted a ride from Jon Charles Hellyar. Shortly into the car trip, Suzan became convinced that he was a witch as well, and a struggle broke out in the car as they were driving down the highway in the Los Angeles suburbs. Pulling over, all three exiting the vehicle, the skirmish escalated, and Suzan stabbed Hellya before Michael took aim and fired, killing the 30-year-old in full view of other drivers.
After a high speed chase with the LAPD, the couple was finally in handcuffs. They were convicted of all three murders over two trials, and were sentenced to serve upwards of 50 years to life behind bars – in separate prisons, of course. Investigators believe the couple could be connected to nearly a dozen other murders across the U.S. and in Europe, and reportedly kept a kill list of celebrity witches, like then President Ronald Reagan and talk show host Johnny Carson. They have never expressed any remorse for their crimes.