Manson Follower Discovered Shot in Burning Car
Thursday, November 16th, 1978
SACRAMENTO, Nov. 16 — James T. Craig, who was convicted of a 1972 Charles Manson family murder, was discovered today shot and stuffed into the trunk of a burning car with a corpse.
Fire fighters put out the blaze and then heard moans from the trunk. Inside they found Craig — barely alive — next to the body of Edward Barabas, police said.
Both Craig, 39, and Barabas, 27, had their hands bound behind their backs. Both had been released on parole from a state prison in March, police said.
Barabas, pronounced dead at the scene, had been shot twice in the head and neck with a small-caliber handgun and was severely burned. Craig, shot in the face and neck at close range with a shotgun, was in critical condition at the Sacramento-UC Davis Medical Center.
“This appears to have been planned as a double execution,” said police homicide Lt. Hal Taylor.
As Craig was being taken to the hospital, he repeatedly moaned “She’s dangerous…she’s dangerous.” But police had not determined who “she” was.
Barabas was sentenced to a prison term of five years to life in 1974 after pleading guilty to the $43,000 robbery of a metals company in Carmichael.
In Sepulveda, his father said his son had been living in Sacramento with Priscilla Cooper, a onetime Manson follower.
Craig and Ms. Cooper were arrested in November of 1972 along with Michael Monfort, William M. Goucher, Nancy Pittman and Lynette (Squeaky) Fromme for the murder of an ex-marine and his wife.
All but Ms. Fromme, later convicted of trying to assassinate President Gerald R. Ford, pleaded guilty to the murder of James and Lauren Willet of Stockton.
At the time of his arrest, Craig who had been in and out of prison since 1963, was described as a member of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang.
The Stockton charges against Ms Fromme were dropped for lack of evidence.
Phil Guthrie, spokesman for the state Corrections Department, said he doubted that Barabas and Craig were shot because of their connection with the Manson family. He said both men were connected with the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang.