Real Name: Gus Henry Hoffman, Jr.
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Los Gatos, California
Date: July 4, 1978
Date of Birth: January 4, 1958
Weight: 120 pounds
Marital Status: Unrevealed
Characteristics: Caucasian male. Brown hair, brown eyes.
Details: Twenty-year-old Gus Hoffman was an avid musician and motorcycle rider living in Los Gatos, near San Jose, California. In October 1977, he acquired an old 1966 Harley Davidson Sportster, and spent a lot of time, effort, and money restoring it to mint condition. The make and model of bike was popular not only with aficionados, but also criminal bikers, and may have regretfully made Gus a target. Because of this, his parents gave him an ultimatum: he either had to sell the bike or leave their home. His parents did not actually want him to leave; they just wanted him to get rid of the bike for his own safety. He agreed to do this once he finished refurbishing it.
On July 4, 1978, Gus put the finishing touches to his motorcycle. He showed off the bike to his brother and told him that he was going to take it out for a short ride; however, he never returned. Gus's mother Rose became concerned and contacted the police. The police told her that nothing could be done until forty-eight hours after he was reported missing, so she decided to look for him herself.
Rose canvassed the neighborhood and soon ran into one of Gus's friends, who worked at a nearby gas station. The friend told her that on the day of Gus's disappearance, he saw Gus pull up to an intersection on his motorcycle. The friend saw two other bikers and a blue Monte Carlo riding close behind him. The friend remembered the two bikers because they had come into the gas station earlier and had been mean to him. A second witness claimed that the two bikers had stopped Gus, argued with him, and threatened him with chains. When Gus pulled away, the two bikers and the Monte Carlo followed him.
The two witnesses identified one of the bikers as Michael Allen Hodges, a member of the "Forgotten Few" motorcycle gang. The other biker was identified as Michael Stevenson, another member of the same gang. Stevenson was known as a violent career criminal. However, investigators did not have enough evidence to bring the two men in for interrogation. Instead, they questioned other gang members who knew the two men. Nobody was willing to talk. It appeared that everyone feared Stevenson.
In order to turn up leads for the police, Rose and a friend named Carol Jensen decided to go undercover to infiltrate motorcycle gang hangouts. The two women dressed as best as they could as women bikers, with tight pants, heels, bracelets, and "wild" hair. Carol also carried a gun for protection. They went to biker bars and other hangouts and questioned bikers, hoping to find anyone who had information about Gus. She solicited and even bought information, sharing any lead she found with the police. Her other children and friends were also heavily involved in the search.
Rose hired a private investigator who had connections with motorcycle gangs. He set up a meeting with a woman who claimed to have information about Gus's disappearance. The informant said that Gus was dead; she claimed that he had been tortured for three to five days before being killed. Rose begged for the woman to talk to the police. However, the investigator said that he wouldn't let her because he believed that she would be killed if she did so.
Rose believes that the bikers intimidated Gus into going with them to an unknown home. She believes that they forced him into the home's garage, tortured him, and murdered him. However, she had no evidence to prove her theory. Then, on June 19, 1986, Michael Stevenson was killed during a failed extortion attempt. With Stevenson dead, investigators re-questioned former motorcycle gang members and other witnesses. Now, they began to talk; they said that Gus had been taken to Stevenson's home, where he was tortured and murdered.
In June of 1988, Michael Hodges was arrested and charged with Gus's murder. However, Rose and the investigators are certain that more people were involved in the case.
Suspects: Michael Hodges and Michael Stevenson were identified as the bikers who were last seen with Gus before he vanished. The two are considered prime suspects in Gus's disappearance. They were a part of the "Forgotten Few" motorcycle gang; it was believed that the gang was involved in Gus's abduction and murder. Witnesses were unwilling to talk until Stevenson's death in 1986. As a result, Hodges was arrested. However, investigators believe that others are involved in the case.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the April 26, 1989 episode.
Results: Unresolved. Richard Morris Dollar, another gang member, was serving time in San Quentin Prison for a parole violation when he was charged with Gus's murder. Yet another gang member, John "Sluggo" Stelle, was arrested in Northern California in December of 1988, while Unsolved Mysteries was still filming Gus's story. Stelle was carrying a loaded handgun; he was also charged with Gus's murder.
Dollar's ex-wife was a key prosecution witness; she testified that she had witnessed the murder. Another witness testified that they saw the men torture Gus. Other witnesses also testified about the suspects' involvement in the crime. In August of 1990, Michael Hodges, Richard Dollar, and John Stelle were all convicted of Gus's murder and sentenced to life in prison. Hodge and Stelle have since died while behind bars.
Based on the testimony of witnesses, investigators believe Gus's body was dismembered in Michael Stevenson's garage, placed in trash bags, and taken to a unknown location. Gus's body was never found, nor was his motorcycle, which authorities believed was sold to a chop shop by the murderers in order to disassociate themselves from the crime and for money.
- Gus Hoffman at The Charley Project
- Gus Hoffman at The Doe Network
- Mother's 10-year hunt for son brings three murder counts
- Mom's 10-year search for missing son leads to murder charges for 3
- Hearing result of hunt for son's killer
- The Horrible Hunt : Her Son's Disappearance Sent Rose Hoffman Searching for 10 Years in a Shadowy World of Violence and Brutality
- Mother's 10-Year search for son ends with murder charges against three
- Mom tracks son's killers in tough 'biker bars'
- Sherlock Holmes would be proud
- Mother's Work Pays Off: Last Suspect in Biker's Murder Arrested
- Mother's Search Ends With Three Guilty Verdicts
- After 12-year hunt, son's killing solved
- 12-Year Search for Son’s Killers Ends in Guilty Verdict
- End of search