By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Predictably, Lindberg’s background was, according to a court-ordered psychiatric analysis obtained by the Weekly, “tumultuous and dysfunctional.” His mother and grandmother, an expert concluded, “apparently gave Gunner too much love . . . and covered for him when he got into trouble.”
He never had a steady father figure, either. His biological father, a marine stationed at the old El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, abandoned the family in 1977 after the birth of Lindberg’s younger brother, Jerry. Gunner, born at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, was just two years old. Their mother then dated a series of men, prompting relocations to such places as Riverside, Oceanside, Las Vegas, Missouri and Kansas.
The mother married a marine stationed at Camp Pendleton in 1988. After a reassignment, the family moved to the U.S. military base on Okinawa. The following year, Gunner and several junior-high-school classmates stole a vehicle and sparked a wild, high-speed chase that ended with a collision. Japanese authorities were not amused. They expelled Gunner from the island. Afterward, he told friends he hated Asians.
Back in the U.S., Lindberg—now living with his grandmother in Oceanside, near San Diego—continued to slide into drugs and crime. He began to get drunk and smoke marijuana at the age of 12. He was cited for an assault a year later.
But the month of October 1990 truly signaled the horrors to come, according to his rap sheet. Then just 15, he chased a day laborer in a strawberry field, called him a “wetback,” and assaulted him with a tree limb for the money in his pocket. The man’s face was so severely cut that it took 19 stitches to sew up, and his arm was broken, with the bone protruding through the skin.
Also that month, Lindberg beat another teenager for a perceived slight and led a knife-drawn home-invasion robbery of 82-year-old Helen Tillman. Not satisfied with just the $50 robbery, he turned around at the front door, returned to the kitchen and slugged his victim in the face. The month ended with an arrest for possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine).
The Tillman attack won Lindberg a court-ordered trip to Vision Quest, a program in San Diego for juvenile offenders. Reports show he socialized well and excelled at sports, especially running. Was he on the verge of turning his life around?
“I have a good personality. I’m honest and enjoy laughing and having fun. I enjoy most every sport, reading books, working out. I like good movies, some TV, mostly heavy metal music and some older rock. I’m into drawing. I was a bit of a wild child. I am very adventurous and love challenges. I am a great listener and always respectful.”
—Lindberg’s current pen-pal request
Lindberg ultimately failed at Vision Quest. Taking orders from adults and living in a structured environment annoyed him; he ran away. When he reappeared in Missouri, he continued his monstrous ways. He chased an 11-year-old on a bike in a park and shot him in the throat with a BB rifle after the kid said he was a cop’s son. The pellet lodged in the kid’s heart and required surgery. Lindberg attacked another boy, repeatedly kicking him in the ribs, to steal his skateboard. He chased two acquaintances down a highway, firing shotgun blasts at them. He interrupted a high-school beer party by shoving a shotgun under a teenager’s throat and threatening to pull the trigger; he ended up merely walloping the guy in the face with his fist.
During this crime spree, he was in and out of a Missouri juvenile facility and eventually landed in a state prison, where he ran the White Aryan Resistance, plotted the murders of enemies and ambushed a guard. On Halloween 1994, Lindberg began writing Gordon Jack Mohr, a Korean War veteran and right-wing racist who advocated that the enemies of Christ are those “who have mixed blood—the Oriental and Negroid races.” These people, Mohr (now deceased) claimed, are the “real enemies of freedom,” and “they have been trying and will continue to try to destroy the pure bloodline by interbreeding.”
Lindberg was hooked.
“Dear Mr. Mohr, I have received a copy of the Christian Patriot Crusader,” he wrote. “And I would like to stress my many thanks for yours and the Lord’s support while I’ve done my time in the Gulag! If it weren’t for you and God’s word I would have gave up a long time ago.”
After his release, Lindberg violated parole, fled Missouri and became a fugitive, according to court records. He landed undetected in Tustin, moved into a two-bedroom apartment with an older man and took a job at Kmart using a fake identity: Jerry Scott Lindberg, the name of his younger brother, who had committed suicide two years earlier on Gunner’s 18th birthday.
Three months later, he and Christopher left Ly’s mutilated, dying body on the tennis courts. Dripping their victim’s blood for several hundred feet, they walked away, excitedly analyzed their work, tossed the murder weapon down an embankment off Interstate 5, stopped at a Circle K for cigarettes, returned home, stored blood-soaked gloves, smoked more marijuana, played Super Nintendo, and then watched two videos: The Shining, a horror movie starring Jack Nicholson as a possessed, ax-wielding psychopath, and Kiefer Sutherland’s The Lost Boys, about two young men who battle a group of teenage vampires.