California Sun

Good morning. It's Monday, July 23.

Golden State Killer case casts doubt on another person's guilt.
Man calling himself Stockton's Batman makes citizen's arrests.
And Jonathan Gold's death leads to an outpouring of tributes.

The lede


A question of innocence

Joesph DeAngelo Jr., in Sacramento Superior Court last month, is suspected of more than 50 rapes and a dozen murders throughout California.

José Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee, via A.P.

In 1976, a handyman named Oscar Archie Clifton was convicted in the killing of a teenager in the Central Valley town of Exeter.

He maintained his innocence for decades and died in prison in 2013.

It turns out that the suspected Golden State Killer, Joesph DeAngelo Jr., lived in Exeter at the time of the murder. As investigators examine possible cases linked to DeAngelo, the Sacramento Bee reported that troubling questions are being asked about the police work used to put Clifton behind bars.

A lawyer and detective who has examined the case is convinced Clifton was innocent. "The truth speaks for itself," he told the Bee. "The evidence speaks for itself.”

Read the story in the Bee.




California Controller Betty Yee attended a hearing in Sacramento in 2016.

Rich Pedroncelli/A.P.

Taxpayers spent nearly $300,000 — about $814 a day — to provide a California Highway Patrol car and driver to state Controller Betty Yee in 2016 and 2017, records showed. She's not alone. The police force also provides near round-the-clock protection for six other statewide constitutional officers. A Yee spokeswoman said the fiscal officer's high-profile work made the precaution necessary.


California has the nation's highest poverty rate at 20.4 percent, more than twice that of Vermont. The columnist Dan Walters said the housing crisis was at the root of the problem. "Capitol politicians have sidestepped the politically difficult task of overcoming local opposition to housing construction, or reducing environmental red tape," he wrote.


A Santa Barbara sunset. All of California’s beaches below the mean high-tide line belong to the public.

California beaches may be owned by the citizens, but that doesn’t mean they can get to them. From Malibu to Santa Cruz, wealthy people are blocking access. Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, is challenging the very law that ensures public access. As his petition says, "No property right is more fundamental than the right to exclude.”


A heat wave is expected to grip much of the state this week, peaking Wednesday and pushing temperatures into triple digits in many places. Here are National Weather Service outlooks for Southern California, the San Joaquin Valley, the San Francisco Bay Area, and parts north.


Pigeon Point has been protecting ships since the 1870s.

About 20 lighthouses still dot the California coast. One of the most enchanting is Pigeon Point, a 115-foot-tall tower that includes a museum and hostel halfway between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. It's included in Sunset magazine's list of must-see lighthouses along the West Coast.


Northern California


Bears in Yosemite Valley.

In the eight years starting in 2008, federal officials killed more than 72,000 wild animals in Shasta County — including 61 mountain lions, 122 black bears, and thousands of blackbirds — as they sought to resolve conflicts between people and wildlife. An animal rights group is pressuring officials to stop the killing in favor of nonlethal methods.


Tensions are running high over the Klamath River.

The Klamath River has run low, and the economic fallout of a water shortage has gripped the farming community of Tulelake along the California-Oregon border, pitting growers against tribes and family against family. The last time anxieties over water ran so high, protests broke out and U.S. marshals were called in to keep the peace. That was 17 years ago.


A father of two armed with handcuffs he bought online has been going around Stockton making citizen's arrests of people for infractions like drug use and shoplifting. In an interview with a local broadcaster, the anonymous vigilante called himself Stockton's Batman and said he'd arrested hundreds of "criminals." The police said he wasn't doing anything wrong.


Elizabeth Holmes, at a San Francisco event in 2015, was accused of widespread fraud.

Jeff Chiu/A.P.

How to understand Elizabeth Holmes? The disgraced leader of the blood-testing startup Theranos has been characterized by the men who surrounded her as “hypnotic,” an enchantress whose signature misdeeds were seduction and betrayal, writes WIRED's Virginia Heffernan. "But in these stories the flip side of Holmes is — brace yourself — a bitch who crushed the men who questioned her."


Southern California


Jonathan Gold in 2017.

Dan Steinberg/Invision for Los Angeles Times Food Bowl/A.P.

Jonathan Gold died at 57 from pancreatic cancer. The Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic for the L.A. Times was a passionate chronicler of the city's vast culinary landscape. A number of publications posted obituaries and tributes. A few standouts:

“Long before anyone had used the words ‘social gastronomy,’ long before Tony Bourdain stepped out of the kitchen and onto the television screen, at a time when nobody in America — and few people in the world — understood the power of food, Jonathan got it.” Ruth Reichl in the L.A. Times
“I’m not a cultural anthropologist,” Gold once said. “I write about taco stands and fancy French restaurants to try to get people less afraid of their neighbors and to live in their entire city instead of sticking to their one part of town.” N.Y. Times
“It was through his work at The Times and LA Weekly that the rest of the country arguably discovered the Southern California that gets buzz today—a dynamic, young, multicultural hub that keeps a tenuous hold on unity through the foods we share and create.” Gustavo Arellano in the L.A. Times

A makeshift memorial grew outside the Los Feliz Trader Joe's store in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Damian Dovarganes/A.P.

Officials said Gene Atkins, 28, shot his grandmother, kidnapped his girlfriend, then led police on a chaotic chase that led to a crowded Los Angeles Trader Joe’s. There, Atkins took dozens of people hostage and an exchange of gunfire with police left a store manager dead. Atkins surrendered. It was unclear who shot the manager, but the decision to engage in a firefight led to criticism of the police response.


When a 6-year-old boy told his social worker that his foster father, Michael Jarome Hayes, was hurting him, she refused his request for a new home. More than a dozen reports of suspected abuse would follow, according to a lawsuit against San Diego County, yet the boy and his twin brother were repeatedly kept with Hayes — for more than seven years. Hayes ultimately pleaded guilty to sexual abuse.


A canal brings water from the Colorado River to the Coachella Valley.

Jay Calderon/Desert Sun

The Coachella Valley — an oasis of lawns, lakes, farmland, and 121 golf courses — owes its existence to water pumped up from underground and piped in from the Colorado River. And records show residents have been doing a good job of using less water over the past decade. The farms and golf courses? Not so much.


California Archive


Inventing the toughest run

Badwater runners ascend from the bowels of blazing hot Death Valley.

Chris Kostman/ ©AdventureCORPS

Al Arnold was an unlikely candidate for a sports hero. He was athletic as a young man in the 1950s Bay Area, but later settled into a sedentary life making electrical devices. Nearing 40, he was overweight and out of shape.

Then, jolted by a glaucoma diagnosis, he started running. Hobby grew into obsession.

He heard about a pair of runners who had relayed the 145 miles between the lowest and highest points in the contiguous U.S. — from Death Valley’s Badwater Basin to the summit of Mt. Whitney.

Arnold had an attraction to extremes. As a student at U.C. Berkeley, he and a friend set a teeter-tottering record: up and down 45,159 times in 72 hours.

He resolved not only to complete the entire Badwater run by himself — he’d do it in July.

Death Valley in the summer is no place for humans. Tourists driving through sometimes stop to poke around and never make it back their car.

There were doubts about whether the feat was even humanly possible. Arnold’s first attempt in 1974 was a fiasco, cut short by dehydration and vomiting. He made it just 18 miles.

Another try the next summer was thwarted by a knee injury.

The quest became a touchy subject with Arnold’s wife, who couldn’t understand what was driving him. He wasn't entirely sure himself.

"Why is it that the moth is attracted to the flame, when he knows if he gets too close it will burn him?” he told the L.A. Times in 2002.

“It's dangerous,” he said. “But it's the search, the quest."

He’d have to train harder, Arnold reasoned. He rode an exercise bike in a sauna set to 200 degrees and ran as many as 250 miles a week, covering every inch of the Bay Area’s Mount Diablo. He told a magazine he’d go into trances, leaving before dawn then seeing the moon rise 15 hours later without remembering anything in between.

“I simply became an animal,” he said.

Al Arnold in 1977.

Eric Rahkonen/Marathoner

Then, on Aug. 3, 1977, Arnold set out for a third time along with a two-man support crew. He was 49 with a head of gray hair. As it happened, it was the hottest day of the year — peaking at 124 degrees.

For the next 84 hours, Arnold ran across 145 miles of searing salt flats, three mountain ranges, and a torturous push up more than 100 switchbacks before staggering to the 14,505-foot peak of Mt. Whitney. He wept uncontrollably.

News of Arnold’s accomplishment electrified the ultra running world, inspiring others to try. A decade later, the Badwater Ultramarathon — billed as the world’s toughest footrace — became an official event, held each year in mid-July.

Arnold kept running, but never repeated his Badwater route. He died last fall at the age of 89.

Chris Kostman, the Badwater race director, said he puts Arnold in the same pantheon as the Mount Everest pioneers Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. “People thought the marathon was the greatest human achievement possible,” he said, “and then here Al Arnold comes and does over five of them in a row in the hottest place on earth.”

The 2018 Badwater race kicks off today, with nearly 100 entrants from 22 different countries. A salute to the man who showed the world that it was possible is planned at the start line.



An earlier version of this newsletter mischaracterized a shooting in Los Angeles. The police said that the gunman, Gene Atkins, wounded his grandmother, not that he fatally shot her.

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The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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