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The Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club House

The Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club House

There is plenty of hollywood sizzle to the story, but don’t hold your breath.  It’s not a new Kurt Sutter television drama on motorcycle outlaws and biker “authenticity.”

It’s been a week where the Oregon Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club (GJMC) can’t avoid the news.  The GJMC, who have sometimes had a violent history in the Northwest, have managed to limit their appearances in the crime scene so reports linking the club or members of the club to serious crimes is unusual.

The reports read like a melodramatic whodunit detective novel… There was a fractured skull, a broken rib, a broken leg and a removed nipple. Sounds like an overtly violent scene from Kurt Sutter’s Sons of Anarchy (SAMCRO) TV series, but according to law enforcement reports, Robert “Bagger Bobby” Huggins, 56, was an ousted Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club member who also had nails driven through his boots, slash wounds to his back and face and many blows to his face.  His lifeless body was found shirtless and bloody in a Clark County field on July 1, 2015 by timber loggers.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.36.01 PMThese news reports are just noise without context.  And, this week Detective Jim Lawrence provided that context during a 3-day bail hearing to Multnomah County Circuit Judge Gregory Silver stating that witnesses informed him that Huggins had been banished from the motorcycle club in 2014, after fellow members determined he was stealing money from the club to support his heroin habit.  The following year, Huggins burglarized the Woodburn home of the Gypsy Jokers club president** and tied the president’s girlfriend to a chair at gunpoint — enraging the president and other members enough to torture and kill him.  There are cellphone records linking some defendants to the crime scenes, there is neighborhood surveillance camera footage, Huggins blood was found in a Suburban used to transport the body and various people told police about certain elements of the story leading up to the killing or surrounding the killing.

(L to R): Fisher, Dencklau, Thompson, Pribbernow

(L to R): Fisher, Dencklau, Thompson, Pribbernow

At the end of the day a grand jury indicted:

  • Mark Leroy Dencklau**, 56, Earl Devearl Fisher Jr., 46, and Tiler Evan Pribbernow, 34, each on two counts of murder, criminal conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to commit murder, two counts of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of criminal conspiracy to commit kidnapping and solicitation to commit kidnapping. The three men remain in custody and were arraigned in a Multnomah County Circuit Court.
  • Melachi Watkins, 32, on a murder count, two counts of first-degree kidnapping and two counts of criminal conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Watkins was already in a Washington state prison on unrelated charges.
  • Ronald Charles Thompson, 51, on two counts of hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence. He was released on bail, police said.
  • Kendra Castle, 43, on a hindering prosecution count. She was released on bail.

It has been reported that Watkins, Thompson and Castle will be arraigned at a later date.

Details on the investigation had been limited because of the ongoing investigation, but Detective Jim Lawrence made the above details of the case public this week during a 3-day hearing which was to determine whether three of four men charged with Huggins’ murder should be allowed to be released from jail pending trial, set for 2017. Defendants Mark Leroy Dencklau; Earl Devearl Fisher; and Tiler Evan Pribbernow, have all been held in jail with no possibility of posting bail since they were charged in April.  In Oregon, when a defendant is charged with murder, aggravated murder or treason, release is denied when “the proof is evident or the presumption strong that the person is guilty.”

At the conclusion of the 3-day hearing, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Gregory Silver refused to grant bail to the three men.  Courtesy of the Oregonian the video is HERE.

Additional background and information courtesy of the Mercury Tribune:

  • Mr. Dencklau** is, or was, the president of the Portland GJMC, according to this 2007 press release from a biker-friendly lawyer who successfully sued the City of Portland on behalf of the GJMC after a failed 2004 police raid at the club’s NE MLK headquarters. According to court records, Mr. Dencklau has one felony conviction, for possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute.
  • Mr. Fisher has an extensive rap sheet, with five felony and four misdemeanor convictions, and seven parole violations. His most recent non-driving bust was in 2009 when he was convicted on two counts of unlawful use of a weapon.
  • Mr. Pribbernow is an Iraq War veteran and a methamphetamine addict. He was already in jail when the initial sweep happened, after a March arrest on meth possession and gun charges. He has at least eight prior felony and four misdemeanor convictions. Mr. Pribbernow’s been in the news before—most recently for a 2015 car chase that started in Oregon and ended in Vancouver, WA. Police discovered stolen license plates in his car, and booked him for driving under the influence of drugs, reckless endangerment, and eluding police.  He was also featured in a 2007 Willamette Week story for having shot a man, Kent Kotsovos, in Northeast Portland. He was arrested for attempted murder in 2005, but a grand jury said it was self-defense.
I’m not affiliated with any club.  I do not speak for the GJMC and I would never presume to speak for that club or any club.

As a motorcycle enthusiast I am less than thrilled to be highlighting this type of activity.  The mutilation and termination of an individual with extreme prejudice — a gangland style killing — will cause many to cast a colder eye on all bikers including the law-abiding, charitable brotherhood of family men who just like to ride.

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pondeadvt2002_pg6One of the cool things about the internet is discovering a taste of world knowledge while sitting on the peripheral edge.  Often when doing research for blog posts it feels like a mini-journey to me.  For every step forward, I take two to the side or three back before compiling a broad range of information.

Part of my post-election withdrawal therapy has been background research on the only Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) member (Robert G. McClure) to be convicted of four murders in the State of Oregon.  McClure was found guilty of execution-style killings in the small Seventh-day Adventist community of Gaston, Oregon and sentenced to four consecutive life prison terms.  More about this in a future post, but one of the side paths this took me on was across the Pacific to the Australian Crime Commission.  They deemed ‘biker gangs’ a significant criminal threat to their nation.   As a result, the Australian Government is moving forward to ban the wearing of “colors” nationwide (similar to actions taken last month in CA. with the Mongols MC arrests) and they’re introducing laws to take legal action which allows them to confiscate ‘motorcycle club’ assets, including the club brand (“patches”), motorcycles and property.  It’s an interesting tactic for governments to seize trademarked name/brands and property, but I’ll save the far reaching laws with broad definitions and the suspension of habeas corpus rant for another day.

Humble Pie Concert

Humble Pie Concert

It was during my Australian surfing I ran across this little nugget buried in a video clip.  First off, and I’m dating myself here, the musical performance is one of the greats –  Humble Pie (Steve Marriott) – and the song is called “Big Train” or maybe its “Big Train Stops at Memphis.”  The beginning of the video has a member of the HAMC (“Mother”) who shouts to the audience… “One more song and they ain’t going home at all.” Somehow you believe him!

The Australian music festival at Ponde was famous in its own right, but certainly not on the same scale as the Altamont Speedway Festival which headlined the Rolling Stones.  This video was recorded off an Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) late night TV music show called “Rock Arena” back in 1983.  The show was cancelled in 1989.  Others in the video were keyboard player Goldy McJohn, a former member of Steppenwolf, the Bass player was Jim Leverton and the drummer (unseen) was Fallon Williams.  Another one of my “favs” is Led Zeppelin’s song “Whole Lotta Love” which is said to be a direct take off of Marriott’s version of the classic song “You Need Lovin’“. Give it a listen and you’ll see what I mean…

mannum_australia1The Ponde Music Festival ran for 23 years (1979 to 2002) in Mannum, 50 miles from Adelaide Australia, and was hosted by the HAMC.  I find it curious that over the last year there has been a dramatic increase in arrests and negative publicity coming out of Australia on issues with, in Aussie words, “bikie” gangs.  I’m intrigued how “club” attitudes have migrated from supporting a public musical festival to turf wars, firebombs, shootings and combative LE exchanges?  Internet searches reveal little about the perceptions of the festival in the past which started out as a gathering for bike enthusiasts, but expanded over the years into a full-blown top talent multi-day music festival.

 

Video courtesy YouTube, Newspaper photo courtesy of Advertiser Newspapers Pty. Ltd.

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