Law catching up with Your Black Muslim Bakery
Until recently, Devaughndre Broussard was the only Your Black Muslim Bakery associate ever charged with murder, despite a decades-long trail of eight bodies authorities say they have linked to the organization or its founding Bey family.
Now, Broussard and two others are charged not only with the August 2007 killing of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey, slain amid his investigation of the bakery, but in two other killings as well.
Broussard, a bakery handyman; Yusuf Ali Bey IV, the bakery’s last CEO; and Antoine Mackey, a bakery associate are charged with the July 8, 2007 killing of Odell Roberson Jr.; Broussard told prosecutors Bey IV had ordered him to kill Roberson because Roberson’s nephew had killed Bey’s elder brother in a botched carjacking in 2005, and Mackey helped lure Roberson to his doom.
Bey IV and Mackey are also charged with the July 12, 2007 killing of Michael Wills Jr., whom Broussard said was a random target chosen because he was white.
Although a long legal process lies ahead, these victims’ families see some hope of justice. In the other bakery-related homicides — all with victims who were bakery or Bey-family associates themselves — such hope remains only a faint possibility.
Waajid Aljawwaad — born Carl Hambrick — had been tapped by bakery founder Yusuf Bey to succeed him as CEO, but months after the succession he disappeared in February 2004; one of Bey’s sons, Antar Bey, quickly took over. Aljawwaad’s sister, who asked that her name not be used, said her brother had seemed stressed by the friction between his own, older generation of bakery members and a younger faction led by Bey’s biological sons, but he never indicated he thought he was at risk.
Aljawwaad’s body was found July 20, 2004 in a shallow grave in the King Estate Recreation Area, off Fontaine Street just below Interstate 580 and the Oak Knoll area; an autopsy couldn’t determine the cause of his death, but it noted what might have been a laceration near his right eyebrow with a dent in the skull beneath.
While interviewing Broussard in March, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Chris Lamiero asked whether Bey IV had ever said anything about Aljawwaad’s death; Broussard said he hadn’t.
Still, the sister said she hopes indictments in Bailey’s, Wills’ and Roberson’s slayings might dislodge new information in her brother’s death. She hasn’t heard anything from law enforcement for a long time, she said, adding she’s unsure whether there’s even an Oakland Police detective assigned to the case.
“Are they asking about my brother? It’s almost five years,” she said. “There’s been some justice within those five years with other members of that bakery — they’re not here today — but it’s not exactly closure. Somebody still needs to take responsibility, whether they’re dead or alive, for what happened to my brother.”
Others have waited far longer.
Two of three women who sued Your Black Muslim Bakery founder Yusuf Ali Bey, saying he’d tormented and raped them as children, testified in their 2005 depositions that a man named “Usman” had stumbled upon Bey molesting a boy in the bakery and was killed soon thereafter. The Chauncey Bailey Project last year used other records to determine “Usman” was Peter August Kaufman, shot to death in June 1986 a few blocks from the bakery where he’d worked and lived for years.
Alameda County Chief Assistant District Attorney Nancy O’Malley last year said prosecutors hadn’t known of the deposition testimony, and had begun reviewing the transcripts “to see if there’s anything that requires our attention.”
David Washington, who represented two of the women in the civil lawsuit, said Wednesday that to his knowledge no law enforcement agency ever contacted his clients about Kaufman’s killing. “It’s odd to say the least,” he said. O’Malley couldn’t be reached for comment last week.
In another unsolved case, relatives reportedly watched bakery worker Ronald Allen, 32, escorted away by black-suited, bow-tied bakery associates in April 1982; he was killed with a shotgun and his corpse was found near the city garbage dump the next day. As with “Usman,” the case came up in the civil lawsuit depositions: One of the plaintiffs spoke of “Rashid,” who supposedly had been skimming from the bakery’s delivery truck and so turned up dead; the circumstances she described fit Allen’s case.
Berkeley Police Lt. Russell Lopes retired in 2001 but soon returned to consult on several old cases including Allen’s. Last year, he said Allen “was clearly ordered killed by Yusuf Bey. I worked the case pretty hard, got everybody identified — Yusuf Bey’s hitmen at the time were identified and they’re still in the file, they still live in the area and are involved with the bakery.”
But Lopes said he “could never get remotely close to them to talk to them,” and he had no physical evidence with which to confront them. “There was nowhere to take the case. I had plenty of intelligence, people saying the same thing “… but the chances of ever closing it were practically nil so I just put it away.”
Berkeley Police said in December 2007 that they were re-examining the case yet again after Bailey’s killing and the bakery’s closure. But Lopes in 2008 said he could “say with absolute certainty that they’re not doing anything on the case,” as the department lacks enough detectives to pursue “cold cases.” Even finding the murder weapon would mean little, as it could’ve changed hands countless times since 1982, he said: “If they come up with ballistics, they can match some stuff but it wont tell them anything more than we know now, which is (the elder) Yusuf ordered Ron killed.”
Berkeley Police detectives now “are working more recent cases, to include a murder last night, but they have been open to any new information that may come to light during the course of Oakland PD’s ongoing investigations related to the Black Muslim Bakery,” Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said Tuesday.
Allen’s sister, Jackqulyn Allen, welcomed the recent indictments even as she keeps hoping for a breakthrough in her brother’s case, 27 years later.
“I’m thankful that justice is now being served, I’m sorrowful for the families that had to go through what we went through,” she said, adding she’s sure “justice will prevail” against those who killed her brother, either in this life or the next. “You can do it in the dark but you can’t hide — everything will come to the light.”
And then there’s the 1968 double homicide of Birdie Mae Scott, 33, and Wendell Scott, 30. These two followers of Yusuf Ali Bey — Joseph X Stephens at the time — and his brother, Billy X Stephens, now known as Abdul Raab Muhammad, were fatally shot in Santa Barbara shortly after complaining to Nation of Islam officials about the brothers’ involvement in an alleged insurance scam. Reacting to the Chauncey Bailey Project’s inquiries, Santa Barbara police reopened the case last year.
“We assigned it to our cold-case detective, J.C. Hunter,” Capt. Armando Martel said Thursday. “He did reach out to a couple of folks involved “… but not a lot came from it.”
Hunter then had to focus on shepherding a huge anti-gang case through the courts. “We haven’t been able to put a lot of effort in it since then, and my feeling is we probably won’t be able to for about another month or so,” Martel said. “Our plan is to get back on it once this thing gets through the system and finish it off, in regards to at least re-contacting all the parties involved.”
“Obviously, we’d absolutely like to get an end result.”