Die For Me

Die For Me

by Don Lasseter

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In 1985, Charles Ng and Leonard Lake were spotted shoplifting. Ng escaped, but Lake's capture led police to a concrete bunker in the Sierra Nevada foothills, where they discovered the grisly evidence of an orgy of sex crimes, torture and murder that claimed at least sixteen victims. Lake committed suicide: Ng fled to Canada, where he was tracked down and extradited to California. This 14-year, $10 million legal case was the costliest and longest criminal prosecution in California history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786037933
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 09/10/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 30,848
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Don Lasseter has written five true crime books for Pinnacle, plus sixteen magazine articles that were reprinted in Pinnacle's anthology books about murders. In addition to being a crime writer, Mr. Lasseter is a WWII historian who frequently lectures on the subject in schools, at service clubs, and for veteran's groups. He accompanies his talks with slide packages entitled "WWII, Then and Now," consisting of photos he took while actually retracing most major battles in Western Europe and in the South Pacific. Taking black and white combat photos with him, Mr. Lasseter laboriously searched for the exact spots on which the photographers stood, and shot the same scenes as they look today. He accumulated over 1500 such pictures associated with various battles including the Normandy invasion, Battle of the Bulge, crossing the Rhine, taking Berlin, and other major engagements. A native Californian, Mr. Lasseter resides in Orange County. He has served as guest lecturer in criminology classes at California State University, Fullerton. Hollywood history is Mr. Lasseter's third major interest. His personal library includes an extensive collection of movie books, and he takes pride in being able to name hundreds of old character actors whose faces are often seen in classic films. One day, Lasseter says, he will write books, both fiction and non-fiction, about the golden era of film production and the people involved. If you would like more information about his books or his interests in WWII or Old Hollywood, please feel free to write him at 1215 S. Beach Blvd. #323, PMB, Anaheim, CA 92804.

Read an Excerpt


October 1983

Wilseyville California

Settling into a well-worn brown fabric recliner chair, Leonard Lake turned his placid green eyes toward a tripod- mounted video camera and spoke in a calm, soft voice with no trace of any emotion. "Good evening. It's Sunday, October ... twenty-second, twenty-third, something like that. Very close to my thirty-eighth birthday, and I'm starting this tape without script or without any real organization of what I want to say. But I do feel I need to explain."

Apparently alone in the room, occasionally leaning his head back to gaze toward the ceiling, then once more facing the camera lens, and crossing his ankles on the footrest, the burly, balding speaker continued. "This tape, which you're hearing now, is going to be the lead-in of the various phases of construction of a building which, hopefully, will be the first of a series of underground buildings." As if to rationalize the purpose, he described plans to erect what he called a tool and storage room. With no change in his quiescent tone, Lake gradually admitted a much more sinister intention for the planned structure. "But the main emphasis of the building, the whole justification for its expense and its effort, will be a hidden portion ... a secret room, if we can call it that, that will house a cell ... a jail cell, if you will."

Dressed in a long-sleeved black-and-white patterned shirt, faded jeans, and brown boots, Lake clasped his hands in his lap. Still exhibiting no signs of excitement, he explained, "The purpose of that cell ... will be the imprisonment of a young lady who probably, at this moment, is unknown to me."

Drifting away from the chilling hint of capturing a woman, Lake turned to a rambling narration of his personal philosophy. "These are troubled times. There are wars and rumors of wars going on. Today, one hundred thirty-five Marines were killed in Lebanon. ..." Lake misstated the casualty count in his reference to a stunning tragedy that took place earlier that same Sunday, October 23, 1983, in Beirut. A terrorist had crashed a truckload of explosives into the U.S. Marine Corps headquarters building, taking the lives of at least 216 Marines in the massive explosion. Lake, having served with the Corps in Vietnam, identified closely with the fallen leathernecks. After mustering out, he had concluded that an imminent holocaust would wipe out most of humanity. The only survivors, Lake theorized, were those who possessed the foresight to build bunkers in the mountains and stock them with food, weapons, and money. His personal bunker, though, would also provide a place to live out his dark sexual fantasies.

Lake's soliloquy continued, describing the concrete and steel bunker he visualized. It would be "... designed not around the cell, but ultimately around the concept of a secret, secure living place for myself and perhaps for friends." But, he admitted, "... it would be a lie to say it was for anything other than primarily emphasizing the cell."

Leonard Lake's favorite book, The Collector, by John Fowles, told the tale of a butterfly collector who carried out his fantasy of capturing and enslaving a young woman. It meshed perfectly with Lake's own hidden desire. The idea of having complete control over a female slave formed the most erotic thrill he could imagine.

Wondering aloud about recording his most intimate thoughts on video, Lake said, "Posterity may care less about this tape, care less about what I have to say. To be honest, I'm not too sure who I want to show this tape to, or if I will ever show it to anyone. But, for anyone that is interested, anyone who needs my justification and my rationalizations as to why I would want to imprison, and, in fact, enslave [a woman] they have only to look closely at me. I'm a realist. I'm thirty-eight years old, a bit chubby, not much hair and losing what I have, not particularly attracted to women." Realizing his mistake, Lake corrected it. "Or, I should say, particularly attracting to women. All of the traditional magnets, the money, position, power, I don't have. And yet, I'm still very sexually active, and I'm still very much attracted to a particular type of woman who, almost by definition, is totally uninterested in me. Dirty, old man. Pervert." His hand gestures became momentarily animated.

"I'm attracted to young women. Sometimes even as young as twelve, although to be fair, certainly up to eighteen to twenty-two is a pretty much ideal range as far as my interests go. I like very slim women, very pretty, of course petite, small-breasted, long hair. [But] such a woman, by virtue of her youth, her attractiveness, her desirability to ... the majority of mankind, simply has better options. There's no particular reason why such a woman should be interested in me. But there's more to it than that. It's difficult to explain my personality in twenty-five words or less, but I am, in fact, a loner. I enjoy peace. The quiet, the solitude. I enjoy being by myself, and while my relationships with women in the past have been sexually successful, socially they've been almost always a failure. I've gone through two divorces, innumerable women, fifty to fifty-five, I forget exactly the count."

Pausing for a moment to stare at the ceiling, and again folding his hands in his lap, Lake sighed and sounded almost bored. "I'm afraid the bottom-line statement is the simple fact that I'm a sexist slob. I enjoy using women and, of course, women aren't particularly interested in being used. I certainly enjoy sex. I certainly enjoy the dominance of climbing on a woman and using her body. But I'm not particularly interested in the id, the ego, all the things that a man should be interested in to complement a woman's needs. Now I can fake these emotions, and I can fake them very well. And in the past I've been very successful with attracting interesting and attractive women, simply because I did fake fairly well an interest in their needs and their requirements. So, momentarily, I had what I wanted, and they thought they had what they wanted. But, in the long term, I don't want to bother. What I want is an off-the-shelf sex partner. I want to be able to use a woman whenever and however I want. And when I'm tired or satiated or bored or not interested, I simply want to put her away. Lock her up in a little room, get her out of my sight, out of my life, and thus avoid what heretofore has always been the obligation to entertain or amuse or satisfy a particular woman or girlfriend's whims of emotional whatevers."

Recognizing the shortcomings of his views, Lake acknowledged certain problems. "Such an arrangement," he confessed, "is not only blatantly sexist, but highly illegal, there's no doubt about that it. It violates all of the human rights and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and I'm going to spare posterity my concepts of other people's morality. I'm explaining my morality, what I feel, what I want, and as of this moment, I'm going to try to get. The advantages of such a situation are, of course, obvious and, even beyond sexual, such a woman, totally enslaved, would be useful for the mundane chores I have to do, but am not particularly interested in doing: clean house, washing dishes, et cetera. A slave. There's no way around it. Primarily a sexual slave, but nonetheless a physical slave, as well."

Still expressionless, with his voice modulated not much louder than a husky whisper, Lake said, "And I believe that if I can construct a holding cell, a place where I can put such a woman, where I can walk off and feel secure that she can't escape, that I can create a facility that is so stark, and so empty, so cold, so quiet, so totally removed from the world, that fairly quickly, by a combination of painful punishments when I'm displeased, and minor rewards such as music or magazines or some such stuff, that I can quickly condition — this is my belief — that I can quickly condition a young woman to cooperate with me fully, and in fact, even look forward to cooperating with me, simply for no other reason than such cooperation would be a relief from boredom."

Taking a breath, and pausing no more that a few seconds, Lake added, "Whether I can do this or not will remain to be seen. Obviously, I've never done such a thing before, and it may not work. However, I want to try. I want to try." Costs and logistics of constructing the bunker occupied Lake's monologue for a minute before his electric green eyes bored into the camera lens again. "Life, as I am living it, is boring. The challenge of this project, the excitement, the thrill of it will be an exciting experience even if it fails. As long as I don't get caught, it's very attractive. It's something that I've fantasized daily about. We'll see. I don't think there's much more to say on the subject. This, hopefully, will be a mystery."

Within a few days, Lake aimed his video camera at a churning yellow backhoe taking huge bites of earth from a hillside near the mountain house in which he had dictated what would one day be known as "the philosophy tape." Pine and cedar trees surrounded the idyllic mountain site near Wilseyville, California, where miners had swarmed the cascading streams and tunneled the rich earth 135 years earlier in search of gold. Lake's videography recorded a growling chain saw ripping away trees, and a dark-coated German shepherd warily observing the backhoe as it dug a foundation for the sex-slave bunker. As the animal's interest changed, Lake noted, "Uh-oh. Little dog chasing a butterfly." In John Fowles's novel, the protagonist chases butterflies. In Leonard Lake's fantasy, he would leave flying insects to the dog. More erotic prey occupied his mind.

Panting into the video camera's microphone, he said, "I can hardly wait."


April 1985

Milpitas, California

At the age of eighteen, Kathleen Elizabeth Allen felt pretty good about her life. Long dark hair tumbling past her shoulders, with full lips and exotically tilted brown eyes that she sometimes overdecorated with makeup, Kathi created a package most men found attractive despite her ongoing battle to keep her weight down. She always wore her favorite piece of jewelry, a gold chain from which a floating heart dangled.

Kathi spent as much time as possible with her younger sister, Dian, and her Japanese mother, Sumiko, in their San Jose, California, home at the lower tip of San Francisco Bay. Dian thought Kathi was "strong and intelligent." Of course, with an age gap of over two years, the siblings sometimes had misunderstandings. But, recalled Dian, "Kathi could always make me laugh, and if I had problems, she always had an answer for me. She had a knack for being everyone's friend." Dian recalled an evening near the end of March 1985, when she had needed to talk about some problems. In any emergency, Dian knew where to turn, so she had telephoned her sister. Without any hesitation, Kathi had driven from her workplace to pick up Dian so they could chat about it. Kathi's presence worked its usual magic.

Because their mother, Sumiko, struggled with the English language, Kathi frequently came to the rescue by volunteering to act as interpreter. Sumiko's live-in mate also expressed fondness for Kathi, characterizing her as "loving and tolerant."

A full-time job at the Safeway supermarket in nearby Milpitas, where she had worked for most of a year, allowed Kathi Allen to support herself. Her boyfriend, Michael Sean Carroll, twenty-three, contributed to their entertainment expenses with his earnings from a pizza restaurant, and provided most of their transportation with his 1974 yellow Mercury Capri. Because he'd served time on federal drug charges at Leavenworth Prison in Kansas, he'd had difficulty finding employment. Standing an inch less than six feet, and trim at 178 pounds, Mike sported dark hair parted in the middle, arched eyebrows, large brown eyes, and a youthful, alert face that caught the attention of most young women. He tried to look more mature by nurturing his light whiskers and mustache, but only managed to blur a well-formed chin.

Mike Carroll lived with a foster brother, who also acted as a father to him. The two men had exchanged letters often during Mike's absence for a hitch in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he ran afoul of the law. The correspondence continued during Mike's imprisonment in Leavenworth, Kansas. The brother met Kathi Allen on several occasions and could see that she loved Mike deeply.

The love Kathi felt was mixed with concern about his violent temper, which sometimes manifested itself in physical abuse of her. She found it easy to forgive those transgressions, but worried even more about his tendency to become discouraged. She didn't want him to fall back into the easy-money trap associated with selling drugs.

In early spring 1985, Mike Carroll moved out of his foster brother's home and convinced Kathi to share a rented motel room with him until they could find a more permanent residence. To her, it seemed to be a sign of his willingness to settle down and plan their future together. So, on April 12, when he failed to show up one night, the old worries reeled through her mind again. On Sunday, April 14, she parked his car in the Safeway lot, only a block from the motel, and struggled through her work duties trying not to think about her missing mate. Late in the afternoon, she received a telephone call at the store, a call that sent her fears about Mike Carroll skyrocketing through the roof.

One of Kathi's friends later divulged that the worried young woman had confided in her about receiving a mysterious message from Mike Carroll. According to Kathi, Mike had told her that he'd experienced some serious problems in San Francisco and had sought refuge near Lake Tahoe, about 140 miles northeast of the Bay area. Mike reportedly asked Kathi to meet him in Tahoe. If she could get time off and make the trip, he'd reportedly said, he would send someone to pick her up at the supermarket.

A coworker at Safeway stated that the message about Kathi's boyfriend actually came from someone, other than Mike, who made it sound even more ominous. The colleague reported that Kathi said, "Mike had been shot and might be dead."

Another Safeway employee, supervisor Monique Bobbitt, recalled that Kathi received the telephone call at the store. Shortly afterward, the worried girl had called the Safeway manager and asked for time off, explaining that she wanted to go to Lake Tahoe, where her boyfriend needed her. As soon as she received permission for a leave, Kathi told Monique Bobbitt about it. Bobbitt later spoke of the conversation. "Kathi said her boyfriend had been shot and hurt, and that she was going to go to Tahoe to be with him." The supervisor remembered unlocking the supermarket's doors to let Kathi out of the store, which had been closed at 7 P.M.after customer hours. Concerned about the young employee, Bobbitt gave Kathi her home phone number to call if she needed anything, then watched as Kathi walked across the parking lot and entered the passenger side of a car parked near the yellow Capri. It was "a Honda, copperish color like a penny, with a luggage rack on the trunk." As Bobbitt hazily recalled, she thought she saw a Caucasian male, perhaps about forty years old, behind the steering wheel.

That same Sunday evening, James Baio, who described himself as a "very good friend" of Kathi Allen, answered his phone and could barely make out her worried voice. Kathi told Baio about the troublesome call at the store, but whispered that she couldn't talk much at that moment because there was someone in the room with her at The Best Inn in Milpitas. "She sounded like she was in a hurry and she said she couldn't talk to me," Baio explained. Probing his memory about the mysterious conversation, Baio could still hear Kathi's words about a man who had arrived to pick her up and take her to Mike, but the guy was "kind of weird," and he talked about wanting to take pictures of her.

James Baio asked Kathi to call when she arrived at her destination, and Kathi promised she would.

A few hours later, though, Kathleen Allen found herself in terrifying circumstances, unable to telephone anyone in the outside world. A video camera recorded segments of her nightmarish predicament.

As the tiny red light on the camcorder blinked, Kathi sat in a well-worn brown fabric recliner chair, her legs crossed. She wore a white jersey with red short sleeves, dark pants, and black shoes. Handcuffs bound her wrists together behind her back. She sat perfectly still with a numb expression on her face, saying nothing, perhaps in a state of shock, or possibly unable to comprehend the extent of danger. At her right, a table lamp bathed the room in a soft amber glow, illuminating the wall behind her, covered with a photographic mural depicting the flaming colors of a forest in autumn.


Excerpted from "Die For Me"
by .
Copyright © 2000 Don Lasseter.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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