by Virginia McCullough

Introduction – The Alleged Co-Conspirators

Deputy Attorney General Michael T. Murphy on behalf of the people of the State of California filed an Amended Felony Complaint in Case No. INF066719 - The People v. Jimmy Hughes. The amended complaint was filed on December 18, 2009 and detailed charges naming James Hughes as the man who murdered Fred Alvarez, Patricia Castro and Ralph Boger on June 29, 1981 in the County of Riverside, State of California. The final page of the complaint cites the special allegation of multiple murders in violation of Pen. Code S 190.2(a)(3). Much has been written about the four people addressed in this portion of the complaint.

Page one of the complaint outlines the “Conspiracy to Commit a Crime”. The three people who are named here, John Philip Nichols, John Paul Nichols, and Glen Heggstad have been featured in the media to differing degrees. Now the state alleges that each and every one is central to the conspiracy that resulted two days later in the Alvarez executions. Deputy AG Murphy alleges the following:

That on or about June 27, 1981, in the County of Riverside, State of California, JAMES HUGHES did unlawfully conspire with John Nichols, John Paul Nichols, Glen Heggstad and other persons whose identities are unknown; to commit the crime of Murder, in violation of Penal Code section 187(s), a felony.

Who are these men and what are their backgrounds? This is the third and final segment of a three part biographical series.


Three men are named in the two complaints filed by Deputy Attorney General Michael Murphy: John Philip Nichols, John Paul Nichols and Glenn Heggstad. Father and son, John Philip and John Paul Nichols clearly have ties to the Cabazon Indian Reservation in Indio, California dating back to the late 1970s. Countless documents in Cabazon and court files attest to the ties these two men had in the day to day operations and business deals conducted in the Cabazon name. There is no question about both Nichols' involvement in the events before and after the triple execution of Fred Alvarez, Ralph Boger and Patricia Castro. The alliance and the animosity between the two white men controlling the reservation and Cabazon Indian Fred Alvarez are detailed in several books.

Glen Heggstad, the third man named in the complaints, cannot be found in any documents, articles or books dealing with the Cabazon nation. This writer has interviewed numerous media sources and members of the Cabazon nation and none recall the name Glen Heggstad in connection with the business deals, conflicts, and/or scandals which occurred in the 1970s and 1980s at the reservation. So why has this man's name been interjected into this high profile case by the prosecutor? Who is he and why is he listed by name as an alleged co-conspirator when there is no obvious paper trail connecting him to the Alvarez triple execution?

Glen Heggstad is a native Californian born in San Mateo, California. A December 2006 article by Cameron Weckerley in Friction Zone, a magazine devoted to motorcycle travel and information, describes Heggstad's early life:

As a youngster in the San Francisco Bay-area town of Belmont, California, Heggstad spent much of his time wearing out the bench in the principal's office and directing his restless energy to fighting and other destructive activities. "Standard warnings had no effect and punishments [had] no effect," he says almost apologetically. In high school, he was voted the most likely to end up behind bars, and he did--but they were handlebars. He began riding a homemade scooter to school daily when he was 15. Then, at age 16, he read Jack Kerouac's autobiographical novel celebrating the spontaneous road trip, On the Road, and set out hitchhiking across country the very next day.

His restless road trip finally ended in San Bernardino in 1973 and Heggstad became the youngest member of the Hells Angels riding with the club until he retired as Sergeant-at-Arms in 1979. When questioned by interviewers about his experiences in this unique motor club he will only say that, "We leave the Hell's Angels particular business things to them" and they "are an extremely energetic organization."

When Glen Heggstad left the Hells Angels he devoted his energy to the Chinese discipline of Kung Fu and for the next few years he concentrated solely on the study of numerous martial arts. He became so proficient that he won several national championships in both judo and Brazilian jiujutsu. It was about this time that he opened a business called Viking Security that provided bodyguard services for people in and around the Palm Springs area. In was a natural fit for the powerfully built, blond man depicted on his web site "" at

Glen Heggstad is a public figure and the author of two books Two Wheels Through Terror: Diary of a South American Motorcycle Odyssey published by Whitehorse Press in 2004 and One More Day Everywhere: crossing 50 borders on the Road to Global Understanding published by Ecw Press in November 2009. His first book was featured in a National Geographic Channel docu-drama and on 48 Hours. He has appeared on Larry King Live and the Montel Show and his adventures have been covered on CNN, NPR and MSNBC.

Many publications describe Heggstad as an ambassador of good will mounted on two wheels. When one reads his books it is apparent that he is also a thoughtful, considerate and respectful individual whose devotion to motorcycle adventure is only exceeded by his determination to help those in need that he has met in his travels around the world. It is well known that Heggstad donates all the monies realized from his books to a variety of worldwide aid and relief organizations. The money made from his first book went to the International Red Cross and the profits from his second book were donated to "Room to Read" a group that builds schools in Vietnam, Cambodia and Nepal. The public attention generated by Heggstad's adventures also led the Southern California BMW dealers who provided him with the F650GS Dakar he rode around the world to raffle the bike off and present the proceeds to Amnesty International.

While Heggstad himself says he has had "a checkered and demented career" he is also a well know businessman who founded a martial arts school, Coachella Valley Judo. He conveys to his students his policy in life, "Whenever I experience any setback I am determined to come out ahead." He says, "I try to inspire my students by telling them if you say you are going to do something then do it. Commit to a goal and pursue it with zeal. You may skin your knees in the process but you'll get up again and be stronger for it."

It was undoubtedly this philosophy that enabled him to survive 33 days in captivity in 2001 when he was kidnapped by the National Liberation Army while riding his Kawasaki 650 motorcycle on a mountain road between Medellin and Bogota, Colombia .

On his web site Glen Heggstad features his building project, a house to be called "La Casa del Viking" (Norte) with photos showing the various friends and workmen who are constructing this home in the desert. It is apparent that this man conducts his life in an open and straight forward manner.

So why was this man named in a criminal complaint that states that "on or about June 27, 1981, in the County of Riverside, State of California, JAMES HUGHES did unlawfully conspire with John Nichols, John Paul Nichols, Glen Heggstad and other persons whose identifies are unknown to commit the crime of Murder, in violation of Penal Code section 187, subdivision (a), a felony." wording of this complaint implies that Glen Heggstad was an active participant conspiring to murder Fred Alvarez in order "to prevent Fred Alvarez from exposing illegal activities of John Philip Nichols, occurring at the Cabazon Indian Reservation."

Overt Act Number 1 states that "On or about June 27, 1981, James Hughes asked a friend to introduce John Paul Nichols to Glenn Heggstad, for the purpose of hiring Heggstad to prevent Fred Alvarez from exposing illegal activities of John Philip Nichols, occurring at the Cabazon Indian Reservation."  The "friend" who allegedly acted as a go-between John Paul Nichols and Glen Heggstad is not named and to date has not been otherwise identified. However, two men who have not yet been charged with any wrongdoing are named, so why isn't the so-called "friend" also named? What motivation does the prosecutor have for keeping this name secret from public view? Has either Detective John M. Powers or Prosecutor Michael Murphy interviewed the "friend" and does that person maintain a credible position in the community? If this unidentified individual has been interviewed by the investigator and/or the prosecutor did they determine whether or not this informant had a grudge against either John Paul Nichols or Glen Heggstad?

Overt Act Number 2 alleges that "On or about June 27, 1981, John Paul Nichols met with Glenn Heggstad, for the purpose of hiring Heggstad to prevent Fred Alvarez from exposing illegal activities of John Philip Nichols, occurring at the Cabazon Indian Reservation." The wording in this portion of the complaint leaves more questions to be answered. Assuming the allegation is accurate and taking it word for word raises the question of whether or not there was one meeting or two separate meetings. If there was only one meeting than why isn't James Hughes mentioned as being present in Overt Act No. 2?  If there was only one meeting why would it be necessary to have a "friend" do the introduction between John Paul and Heggstad?

Overt Act Number 3 states "On June 29, 1981, James Hughes went to Fred Alvarez's residence to prevent Fred Alvarez from exposing illegal activities of John Philip Nichols, occurring at the Cabazon Indian Reservation." So now suddenly John Paul Nichols and Glen Heggstad disappear from the narrative. The complaint continues stating that James Hughes committed three counts of murder killing Fred Alavaez, Ralph Boger and Patricia Castro. There is no further mention of any other people involved in the actual act.

Reliable sources have told this reporter that both John Paul Nichols and Glen Heggstad have taken the precaution of hiring attorneys and investigators of try to protect themselves against any possible pending charges that might or might not be brought in this 28 year-old murder case.

Bills for both men could run as high as $100,000 dollars and recovering their damaged reputations might not be possible at any price.

The phone number for John Paul Nichols was unavailable and he had left his last known place of employment last year. An associate indicated that Nichols had retained an attorney after he was contacted by cold case Detective John M. Powers.

An October 1, 2009 article issued by the Associated Press discussed how Glen Heggstad felt about the complaint.

Glen Heggstad, another person named but not charged in the complaint, said Thursday he was interviewed by sheriff’s detectives several months ago and was cooperating. Heggstad said he had been friends with Alvarez, and the tribal leader told him before his death that he feared for his life because he had “uncovered some information.”

“I just spoke with the investigating officer, and he says I’m not involved,” Heggstad said. “This is pretty freaky."

The questions must be asked: Is there a standard policy within the State of California that spells out how to handle a criminal complaint that designates uncharged co-conspirators in felony complaints?  What is the legal responsibility of a prosecutor who litigates a case in the name of the State while upholding a moral obligation to protect the innocent?

Assistant Attorney General Michael Murphy wrote the complaint naming John Paul Nichols and Glen Heggstad. (Murphy Complaint dtd Sept. 29, 2010) He works out of the same San Diego Office that employs another Deputy General Melissa Anne Mandel who is prosecuting a very high profile case jointly with San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos. This later complaint filed refers to those individual who were not charged as "John Does 1 through 5" as stated in the excerpt below (Ramos/AG complaint dtd Feb. 9, 2010)


Between on or about January 1, 2005, and September 15, 2008, WILLIAM JOHN POSTMUS; JAMES HOWARD ERWIN; John Doe #1, not charged herein; John Doe #2, not charged herein; John Doe #3, not charged herein; John Doe #4, not charged herein; and John Doe #5, not charged herein; did unlawfully conspire together and with another person, and persons whose identity is known and unknown, to commit the crimes of Corrupt Influencing (Penal Code Section 85), Accepting a Bribe (Penal Code Section 86), Offering a Bribe to a Supervisor (Penal Code Section 165), Supervisor Accepting a Bribe (Penal Code Section 165), Misappropriation of Public Funds (Penal Code 424), Extortion (Penal Code Section 518), Conflict of Interest (Government Code Section 1090), Obtaining Money to Improperly Influence a Legislator (Government Code 9054), and Willfully Omitting to Perform a Duty (Government Code Section 1222) in violation of Penal Code Section 182 (a)(1), a felony.

An article about this case by reporter Joe Nelson entitled "Prosecutors allege biggest corruption scandal in San Bernardino County history" appeared in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin  (Click.) sIt included a quote from San Bernardino County District Michael A. Ramos who said "The overt acts will detail the threats, the extortion, the inducements and the bribery."  Mr. Ramos stressed that none of the five unnamed co-conspirators have been charged because prosecutors do not feel they have gathered enough evidence to prove those cases beyond a reasonable doubt. He emphasized that the investigation was far from over and "I want to make this very, very clear today: This is an ongoing investigation and things can change as to those uncharged co-conspirators."

The Attorney General for the State of California posts the following mission statement on his web page:


It is our duty to serve our state and work honorably every day to fulfill California's promise. The Attorney General and our Department's employees provide leadership, information and education in partnership with state and local governments and the people of California to:

Enforce and apply all our laws fairly and impartially.

Ensure justice, safety, and liberty for everyone.

Encourage economic prosperity, equal opportunity and tolerance.

Safeguard California's human, natural, and financial resources for this and future generations.

Why do two Deputy Attorney Generals in the same San Diego Office use completely opposite formats when issuing a complaint dealing with uncharged alleged co-conspirators? Does this lack of conformity ensure compliance with the Attorney General's Jerry Brown's mission statement?

Deputy AG Michael Murphy would not comment about his choice to name John Paul Nichols and Glenn Heggstad even though they have not been charged.

Deputy Attorney General Melissa Mandel would not discuss the policy and transferred this reporter to the AG's media office. However, repeated messages left with various receptionists at the AG's media office did not generate a response over a three day period.

It is apparent that any prosecutor in this powerful state office can determine whether or not to name an individual who has not been charged in any complaint they choose to file.

There appears to be no protection for the average citizen ensuring equal justice and safety by those who should apply the laws fairly and impartially. Legal enforcers operating on personal whims do not insure the safeguarding of California's citizens.

Virginia McCullough © 2/27/10