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Gus Hoffman

Real Name: Gus Henry Hoffman, Jr.
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Los Gatos, California
Date: July 4, 1978

Bio

Occupation: Unrevealed
Date of Birth: January 4, 1958
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 120 pounds
Marital Status: Unrevealed
Characteristics: Caucasian male with brown hair and eyes.

Case

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. They did not actually want him to do the latter; they just wanted him to do the former for his own safety. He agreed to dispose of it under the condition that he be allowed to finish his plans for restoration, in order to make it most attractive to potential buyers.
On July 4, 1978, Gus put the finishing touches to his bike. He showed it off to his brother and told him that he was going to take it out for a short ride; however, he never returned. Their mother, Rose, became concerned and contacted the police. They 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' friends, who worked at a nearby gas station. The friend told her that on the day of his disappearance, he saw him pull up to an intersection on his bike. 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 been mean to him. A second witness claimed that they had stopped Gus, argued with him, and threatened him with chains. When he pulled away, they and the Monte Carlo followed him.
The two witnesses identified one of the bikers as Michael Hodges, a member of the "Forgotten Few" motorcycle gang. The other one was identified as Michael Stevenson, another member of the same gang. He was known as a violent career criminal. However, investigators did not have enough evidence to bring them in for interrogation. Instead, they questioned other gang members who knew them. 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. They 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' disappearance. She said that he was dead; she claimed that he had been tortured for three to five days before being killed. Rose begged for her to talk to the police. However, she 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 its garage, tortured him, and murdered him. However, she had no evidence to prove her theory. Then, on June 19, 1986, Stevenson was killed during a failed extortion attempt. With him 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 1988, Hodges was arrested and charged with Gus' murder. Another gang member, Richard Morris Dollar, was serving time in San Quentin Prison for a parole violation when he was charged with Gus' murder as well. Yet another gang member, John "Sluggo" Stelle, remains at large. Rose will not quit until Gus is found and justice is served.

Michael Stevenson (left) and Michael Hodges

Suspects: Michael Hodges and Michael Stevenson were identified as the bikers who were last seen with Gus before his disappearance. They are considered prime suspects in the case. They were a part of the "Forgotten Few" motorcycle gang; it was believed that the gang was involved in Gus' abduction and murder. Witnesses were unwilling to talk until Stevenson's death in 1986. As a result, Hodges was arrested. Two other gang members, Richard Dollar and John Stelle, are also believed to be involved in the murder.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the April 26, 1989 episode.

Richard Dollar (left) and John Stelle

Results: Unresolved. John Stelle was arrested in Northern California in December 1988, while the segment was still being filmed. He was carrying a loaded handgun; he was also charged with Gus' 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 their involvement in the crime. In August 1990, Michael Hodges, Richard Dollar, and John Stelle were all convicted of Gus' murder and sentenced to life in prison. Hodges and Stelle have since died while there.
Based on the testimony of witnesses, investigators believe Gus' body was dismembered in Michael Stevenson's garage, placed in trash bags, and taken to a unknown location. It 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.
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