Killer who hacked people to death in horrifying Zebra murders dies behind bars

A notorious convict who was jailed for his part in a racially motivated serial killing spree in the 1970s with three other men has died behind bars.

Jessie Lee Cooks, was jailed in 1976 after the gang of killers terrorised the streets of San Francisco in what became known as the 'Zebra Murders'.

In October 1973 the gang kidnapped a married couple and hacked them to death with machetes thus starting a spree that would last until April 1974, reports Mercury News.

It is understood that the gang killed at least 15 people and wounded eight, however many believed they may have been part of a larger organisation committing killings throughout California in the 1970s who called themselves the 'Death Angels'.

The attacks in San Francisco caused widespread panic with people too afraid to leave their homes at night and large increases in police numbers across the city.

A witness eventually came forward to assist the investigation after a reward of $30,000 was offered.

In April 1974, Anthony Harris provided evidence that led to the arrest of the four men after he admitted to cops that he had been present at some of the crimes.

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He was granted immunity and gave evidence in court that led to the men being sent to jail.

Cooks, 76, was the only member of the four men who admitted to the killings with the others claiming innocence throughout their time in prison.

The 'Zebra Murders' got their name after the radio band that police officers assigned to the investigation used for communication.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed that Cooks died in a prison cell while on hospice care on Wednesday at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.

He was reported to have been found unresponsive in bed.

Two of the other killers, J.C.X. Simon and Manuel Moore already died in prison. Simon at San Quentin State Prison in 2015 at the age of 69 and Moore at California Health Care Facility in Stockton in 2017, aged 73.

Larry C. Green, 69, is alive and behind bars at California State Prison-Solano in Vacaville.

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