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John SAPP

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

   
 
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Drifter and drug dealer
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: 1975 - 1986
Date of arrest: April 1986
Date of birth: 1949
Victims profile: John Abono, 22 (marijuana buyer) / Elizabeth Duarte, 24 (his former girlfriend) / Robert Weber, 35 (cocaine dealer) / Geraldine Sapp, 67 (his mother)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Contra Costa County/Butte County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on June 21, 1991
 
 
 
 
 
 

By age 32, drifter John Sapp had spent the better part of two decades confined to state and county institutions. Following the disappearance of a girlfriend, 24-year-old Elizabeth Duarte, in 1981, Sapp was imprisoned for two years on a charge of burning her home. 

The lady was still missing five years later, and in May 1986 Sapp was arrested again, this time charged with her murder and those of two other persons. Prosecutors named Sapp's first known victims as John Abono, 22, reported missing from his Concord California, home in 1975. 

Another Concord victim, Robert Weber, 35, had been abducted, shot, and dumped in Colusa County, where his bullet-riddled body was recovered during August 1985. Sapp's arrest was precipitated by the discovery of a human skeleton in Butte County, during April 1986, believed to be the last remains of Sapp's elderly mother. 

No one had seen 67-year-old Geraldine Sapp since her son moved in with her, some time in 1985. Sapp denied the murder of his mother, while confessing knowledge of her death. She had been killed by someone else, he said, and Sapp had finished off her slayer as a gesture of familial respect. 

As May of 1986 wore on, authorities in Butte and Contra Costa Counties were examining more sites where Sapp reported planting corpses of his nameless victims.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans

 
 

John Sapp

John Sapp was sentenced to death on 06/21/1991 for the murder of John Abono, 22, Elizabeth Duarte, 24, Robert Weber, 35.

By age 32, drifter John Sapp had spent the better part of two decades confined to state and county institutions. Following the disappearance of a girlfriend, 24-year-old Elizabeth Duarte, in 1981, Sapp was imprisoned for two years on a charge of burning her home. The lady was still missing five years later, and in May 1986 Sapp was arrested again, this time charged with her murder and those of two other persons.

Prosecutors named Sapp's first known victims as John Abono, 22, reported missing from his Concord California, home in 1975. Another Concord victim, Robert Weber, 35, had been abducted, shot, and dumped in Colusa County, where his bullet-riddled body was recovered during August 1985.

Sapp's arrest was precipitated by the discovery of a human skeleton in Butte County, during April 1986, believed to be the last remains of Sapp's elderly mother. No one had seen 67-year-old Geraldine Sapp since her son moved in with her, some time in 1985. Sapp denied the murder of his mother, while confessing knowledge of her death. She had been killed by someone else, he said, and Sapp had finished off her slayer as a gesture of familial respect. As May of 1986 wore on, authorities in Butte and Contra Costa Counties were examining more sites where Sapp reported planting corpses of his nameless victims.

 
 

State Supreme Court Upholds Sapp Death Sentence

July 31, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Supreme Court Thursday unanimously upheld the death penalty of a Concord man who killed three Contra Costa County residents during a 10-year period between 1975 and 1985.

John Sapp, a drifter and drug dealer who once worked at Chevron Research in Richmond, was convicted in Contra Costa County Superior Court in 1991 of murdering his former girlfriend, Elizabeth Duarte, cocaine dealer Robert Weber, and marijuana buyer John Abono.

Sapp confessed to the murders after being arrested in Nevada County in 1986 on a weapons charge.

The high court unanimously rejected a series of arguments Sapp raised on appeal, including claims that his confessions were illegally obtained and that the three murder charges should have been tried separately.

The ruling was issued at the court's headquarters in San Francisco.

Sapp's lawyer in the appeal was not immediately available for comment. Sapp can appeal further by filing habeas corpus petitions in state and federal court.

 
 

3. Murder of John Abono

On December 22, 1975, 22-year-old John Abono was living in Concord, Contra Costa County. In the late afternoon, Abono and his friend Tim Bowler went to buy some marijuana from defendant, a longtime friend of Abono’s. Bowler had given Abono $200 to $300 to buy two pounds of marijuana. Abono drove by defendant’s house, and pointed it out to Bowler, who did not know defendant. Bowler noticed a Volkswagen parked in front. Abono, who was driving, parked his sports car nearby. Bowler got out of the car and walked home, leaving Abono to buy the drugs.

That evening, after waiting in vain for Abono and the marijuana, Bowler drove by defendant’s house several times. When Bowler drove by between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. and again around 11:00 p.m., he noticed that the Volkswagen was gone but that Abono’s car was still parked on the street.

Shortly after Abono’s disappearance, Concord Police Officer Richard Berendsen talked to defendant. Defendant said he knew he was suspected of killing Abono because Abono had once “snitched” on him. Defendant claimed, however, that Abono had “simply left town” out of fear of defendant, and that Abono would eventually come back.

After his April 1986 arrest for being a felon in possession of a concealable firearm, defendant spoke with Concord Police Officer Jim Webster about killing Abono some 10 years earlier. Defendant and Abono had been close friends for many years, but defendant became annoyed with Abono over “bad dope deals.” Defendant explained: “[Abono] put me in a situation of messing with heroin dealers. Just bad business. He was doing too many bad drug deals. He was lying. . . . [and] a heroin addict.” So defendant decided to kill him and did so “within a few days.”

Defendant gave these details of the murder: Defendant met Abono to transact a marijuana purchase. Abono appeared to be high on heroin. Defendant put a gun to Abono’s head and took him to an area near Castle Rock on Mount Diablo, Contra Costa County. He made Abono walk for about 45 minutes to an isolated area. Defendant then shot him several times in the head. Initially, defendant covered Abono’s body with brush, but he later returned with a shovel and buried the body.

The area where defendant killed Abono was not too far from where he later killed and buried Elizabeth Duarte. Defendant directed police officers to the area of Abono’s killing, but they did not find Abono’s body.

 
 

SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: N MOTIVE: PC

MO: Drifter linked to the deaths of his mother, girlfriend, and two male victims.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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