The Nameless and the Dead

Connecting the unidentified dead with their relatives is no easy task -- especially when John Doe has 25 aliases

"It is pretty unique, the number of aliases this guy's got," says Spillane. "Someone can give virtually any name they want. And all subsequent arrests get keyed back to that first name whether it's him or not."

He'll revisit this one a few times, between piecing together other stories behind different sets of chalk outlines and listening to snitches spin their yarns. Dead John Does aren't exactly the top priority in an urban police department, especially when they got that way in an apparent bungled getaway. Nevertheless, Spillane will chew a bit on this Mr. Doe. It's too hard not to. Spillane's got a family. And regardless of who else this man was, he was somebody's son, maybe somebody's brother.

The car that Dearman and Irish rode into death in was stolen near a freeway in Crosby, Texas, a small town on the outskirts of Houston, six days before the accident in San Francisco. Its owner told Houston police that she stopped at a gas station to get a soft drink and left the keys in the car. Witnesses described a man similar to Dearman as the suspect. They said he was alone.

A couple of days before the accident, Thom and Jamie Jerpersen's house in Atascadero was burglarized. Their dog Scruffy's silver tag was found in the Le Baron, along with shotgun shells also taken from their home, leading police to believe that at least one of the two men in the car was involved.

Dearman's family brought his body home to Louisiana. They have never heard of Irish or any of the other names attached to him. But the two men had at least one thing in common, and apparently it was enough to bring them together in the wee hours, in a stolen car with the headlights off: There were several empty Budweiser cans, a crack pipe, and a syringe in the car. Both bodies were polluted with cocaine.

"Glynn got into crack, and that was his major problem," says Lisa Holmes, Dearman's sister. "He'd tried to get off of it and couldn't. I've been through treatment centers with him. He hated it, but he couldn't stay away from it."

Holmes says the last time her brother was arrested, he was with a man who'd stolen guns and cars. Local sheriff's deputies were trying to connect Dearman to an auto theft ring, she surmises, and that may have been why he took off.

"Glynn never stole cars. He always took pickup trucks," says Holmes. "He wasn't into stripping them. He just used them to get from Point A to Point B."

It was 28 days before a computer finally matched Dearman's fingerprints to his records; a sheriff in Iberville Parish notified Holmes that her brother was dead. It cost Dearman's family nearly $1,000 to bring his body home and bury him. The emotional price was much higher.

"Glynn and I had had words, and he wasn't talking to me when he left," Holmes relates. Dearman had lived with her off and on over the years and usually listed her as the person to contact whenever he was in trouble. "I knew this time when they went after him that he wasn't coming back," Holmes says. "He didn't want to live the way he was living anymore."

The rap sheet on the name Leslie Irish tells the story of a man who came to San Francisco for the first time sometime in the 1960s; in 1967, he was arrested for disorderly conduct. He would have been about 23 years old, and likely lured by the free-love, drug-frenzied call of Haight-Ashbury and the passionate protest against the Vietnam War. The National Personnel Records Center has no listing for any of his aliases ever having been accepted for military service.

The Social Security numbers Irish had used at various times in his life were issued to other people. For a while anyway, he drifted like paper in the wind. In the mid-1970s, he was arrested in Los Angeles, and in Las Vegas after that. But since at least 1980, he seems to have stayed put in San Francisco. No one recognizes or remembers him anywhere near the two downtown apartments, one on Minna and the other on Leavenworth, where he supposedly lived, or the address on Carl that he periodically gave to police.

There is no listing for family or friends on any of his arrest records in San Francisco. The only connection he ever mentioned was that of a woman named Brenda Holmes, whom he listed as an ex-wife more than a decade ago. There is no record of either their marriage or divorce in San Francisco or anywhere in California. No one near the address he gave for this woman has ever heard of her.

When he died, he was calling himself Leslie George Washington, and he faced court dates for habitual stealing from newspaper vending machines in the city. He remained so unnoticed in an overcrowded system that a San Francisco Municipal Court judge issued a warrant for his arrest when he failed to appear in court nearly a month after he died. But, there was more to this life than a court record.

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