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
Is it just a SoCal thing, or has Día de los Muertos imagery gone mainstream in the past couple of years? Well, you won't see us complaining. As pop-culture appropriations of ethnic traditions go, this one has not yet jumped the tiburón. The aesthetics certainly have a lot to do with it—all those bright colors and grinning skulls just look cool—but we think there's something deeper about Day of the Dead's broadening appeal. The holiday is at once solemn and festive, as we reflect on the lives of lost loved ones while raucously celebrating them, as well as embrace our shared mortality. We're all gonna die . . . ¿y que?
Unfortunately, until that day, we've got to put up with these losers. This year, be sure to light a candle and toss back a shot of tequila for the victims of their crimes, sins and other pendejadas.
SCOTT EVANS DEKRAAI
Boldly making it onto this list just under the wire is Orange County's suspected worst mass killer. On the afternoon of Oct. 12, Dekraai, wearing a bulletproof vest and armed with three handguns, is alleged to have gone into the beauty salon in Seal Beach where his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, worked and started shooting until she and six others were dead. Before fleeing, he reportedly killed a man parked outside. A 73-year-old woman was left clinging to life. The onetime Marine, who'd become unhinged since suffering a crippling accident aboard a tugboat he captained in 2007, was embroiled in a nasty custody battle with Fournier. Mitigating Factor: He's innocent until proven guilty . . . but come on!
FULLERTON POLICE DEPARTMENT
Calling this a bad year for the 145-person squad in Fullerton would be a gross understatement. Two of its officers now face criminal charges—one for second-degree murder—for the July 5 beating of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man with schizophrenia, that led to his death five days later. News later surfaced that several other people have been wrongfully arrested and beaten up, too, as well as that an officer accused of sexually assaulting numerous women got a little slap on the wrist but stayed on the job. Also, a year after it happened, the acting police chief publicly apologized to a family whose home was erroneously raided by the cops. Mitigating Factor: The city could sell the rights to a film titled Clusterfuck In Fullerton, which might pay for one of the many lawsuits it's facing.
FULLERTON CITY COUNCIL MAJORITY
After the Kelly Thomas killing, Pat McKinley, Don Bankhead and Dick Jones adopted the standard elected-official posture when government employees are involved in wrongdoing: They pretended nothing was wrong—even with large, regular public demonstrations and national media attention. Then they absurdly claimed the real villain in the Thomas incident was Tony Bushala, the businessman/blogger who first exposed the horrors of the beating. But what's really scary is that these three elected goons showed utter contempt for the community by also mocking reasonable concerns about a series of police-brutality incidents. Mitigating Factor: The recall movement is moving along.
ROBERT H. SCHULLER
If Schuller had stayed retired after 2006 as head of the Crystal Cathedral, his stature in American Christianity would've been assured and unblemished: the founder of the mega-church movement, mentor to thousands of pastors, a pioneer in televangelism, and a holy man whose embrace of architecture led to stunning houses of worship. But Schuller couldn't drop his ego and ruined in five years what he had spent more than 50 creating. It started with Schuller driving his self-appointed successor, Robert A., out in 2008, and followed with the church declaring bankruptcy last year. Court records released this year showed how Schuller and his ilk lived an extravagant lifestyle for decades while stiffing vendors and letting the Crystal Cathedral bleed out. Now, the Cathedral is up for sale. Mitigating Factor: At least he's not a pedophile.
ANTHONY NICHOLAS ORBAN
Even the Westminster police detective's defense attorney does not deny his 32-year-old client abducted a waitress walking to her car after her shift, drove the single mother in her car to a parking lot a city away, then sadistically raped and tortured her at gunpoint. She eventually broke away, and Orban fled, but he left behind his service weapon, which was easy to track back to him. Before the Irvine resident entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity in July, his attorney tipped the press that the defense would be based on post-traumatic stress disorder his client supposedly suffered as a Marine in Iraq and the medication he was prescribed. Mitigating Factor: One more reason to hate the Iraq war.
EDWARD YOUNGHOON SHIN
Investigators say the Irvine family man confessed to killing his business partner and sending emails to the dead man's family to make it seem as if he were on an extended vacation. Why? Because the 33-year-old men had a fallout that culminated in Shin agreeing to buy out his partner's share for $1 million. Shin had a history of shady business dealings, but no one suspected he would go to such lengths to come out on top—except the family of Christopher Ryan Smith. Early on, they doubted Smith was sending emails from exotic locales in Africa. They tried without luck to press Laguna Beach police detectives to investigate Shin. With the help of private detectives and Orange County sheriff's investigators who took over the case, Shin was arraigned on murder charges on Aug. 30, and one of his associates was arrested as an accessory. Mitigating Factor: Smith's body has not been found, so maybe he is on one helluva safari.