Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mystery surrounds gruesome Bandidos biker gang slayings

HOUSTON—More than 1,500 miles north of Houston in a courthouse in London, Ontario, six men are on trial for murder.
By Jeff McShan /11 News
Mystery surrounds gruesome Bandidos biker gang slayings
May 19, 2009 View larger E-mail Clip More Video The trial has been largely ignored by the U.S. media, but north of the border in Canada, it’s big news.

It all stems from the largest mass murder in modern Ontario history.

On April 8, 2006, eight men were found executed. Prosecutors claim the motive was internal cleansing.

“Everyone wanted to know the story behind this, and now we are finally finding out,” Jane Sims, who has been following the trial for the London Free Press, said.

The murders involved members of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club and a dispute between its Winnipeg and Toronto chapters.

Prosecutors allege the club’s international president, Jeff Pike, who lives right outside of Houston, was not happy with how the Toronto chapter was running its business and ordered their “patches to be removed.”

Removing patches means their memberships were to be revoked.

But does that translate to killing them?

“One expert from the Ontario Police who has some expertise in the Bandidos testified to some of that information regarding the structure of the organization and how it works. But that is going to be one of the major questions in this case – Does that mean the shooting of people,” Sims said.

Pike, who hasn’t been charged or ordered to testify, declined to discuss the matter with 11 News.

But in a rare interview with a Canadian journalist in 2006, Pike said he was “shocked as anybody else” when he heard about the murders.

He went on to say that the “only people that really know what happened are the eight people that were killed and maybe the people in jail.”

When police were called to the gruesome scene that day, the bodies of the eight men were found stuffed into four vehicles.

In one of the cars, an Infiniti, police found the body of Frank “Bam-Bam” Salerno, 43. Salerno had bruises on his face and had been shot twice in the thigh.

In the trunk, police found the body of Paul “Big Paulie” Sinopoli, 30.

Slumped behind the driver’s seat was the body of Michael Trotta, 31.

Three more bodies were found in a nearby Volkswagon Golf: George “Crash” Kriarakis, 28; John “Boxer” Muscedere, 48; and Luis “Porkchop” Raposo, 41.

Raposo was not only shot and wrapped in a carpet, but also had his middle finger cut off at the knuckle.

A paramedic checked a nearby tow truck and found the body of George “Pony” Jessome, 52.

And finally, off in the woods, police found a Pontiac Grand Prix, and in the backseat was the body of 37-year-old Jamie “Rogue” Flanz.

In the opening statement, Canadian prosecutors told jurors that all eight men were lured to the farm by fellow Bandidos member Wayne Kellistine.

Prosecutors said they were then abruptly killed by Kellistine and members of the Winnipeg chapter.

Closing arguments are at least six months away.

What happened that April day is clear, but why it happened may remain a mystery forever.

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