Like many counties in California, Marin County has had its share of homicides. The San Rafael Police Department investigated 45 homicides between 1980 and 2017, which is an average of 1.2 homicides per year. All of them were single victim crimes. Incredibly, there have been no reported homicides in San Rafael since September of 2011.
Have there ever been triple homicides in the county? Fortunately, they have been far and few between. On August 12, 1971, San Quentin prisoner George Jackson lead an escape attempt with other inmates using a handgun that was thought to be smuggled into the prison by his attorney Stephen Bingham. San Quentin Correctional Officers, Paul Krasenes, Frank DeLeon and Jere Graham were shot and stabbed and left for dead in a cell. Jackson was shot and killed by guards as he attempted to escape.
On March 16, 1973, the Mill Valley Police Department arrested 22-year-old Brent Bedauam for killing three members of the Shallock family in their city. Bedauam used a shotgun to kill Melvin and Ruth Shallock and their 19-year-old son Daniel Shallock. Suspect Bedauam later stated that Daniel Shallock could control his thoughts by using a telephone. This and a dispute between Bedauam and the Shallocks resulted in the homicides.
So, what about San Rafael? After doing a great deal of research, only one triple homicide was found, and to tell this story we need to travel back in time 171 years to 1846.
John Polk was the eleventh President of the United States and the Mexican American War was about to start. California was in the hands of Mexico and President Polk sent Army Major John Fremont to California to take control of the future state. Fremont, with an armed force of 125 men started their journey west. With Fremont was Frontiersman Kit Carson. Fremont had saved Carson’s life in an earlier battle and Carson felt that he had to stay with Fremont and help him in California.
In June of 1846, Fremont, Carson and the force of men arrived in San Rafael looking for a group of men who had been responsible for some murders in Sonoma County. On June 28, 1846, a man by the name of Don Jose Berreyesa set out from Contra Costa County to visit his brother Don Francisco de Haro, who had been imprisoned in Sonoma County. With Don Berreyesa were the sons of prisoner Don Francisco de Haro. The boys were twins Ramon and Francisco Haro.
The three of them traveled by rowboat to the mouth of the San Rafael Canal and then proceeded up the canal to the area of what is now the Safeway store on B Street. In those days, the canal was used to deliver goods to the Mission and the rest of the town and it ran much further into town than today.
Fremont and Carson got word that the boat was about to arrive and they rode with several men to meet it to see if the three occupants were spies, or perhaps some of the murderers they were looking for. When Carson and Fremont arrived, the three men were embarking the boat. Carson asked Fremont what they should do with the three and Fremont replied, “I have got no room for prisoners.” Carson then took out his rifle and he shot and killed the twin brothers. When Don Berreyesa asked why Carson killed the two boys, Carson shot Berreyesa dead. The three bodies were stripped of their clothing and they were left on the shore.
Fremont and Carson were never prosecuted for this crime; however, the murders were observed by a man named Jasper O'Farrell, who wrote a letter detailing it that was published in a Los Angeles newspaper. Ten years later in 1856, Fremont ran for U. S. President and this incident was used against him, which was one of the reasons he was not elected.
Has San Rafael had only one triple homicide in 171 years? Is it possible that there were others? If there were, they are hidden in the pages of history.
Attached are photos of General John Fremont and Frontiersman Kit Carson.
Copyright 2017 Harry Barbier – All Rights Reserved