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The Ugly Truth: A Theory Into A Possible Police Cover-up
by janedoe187x4
Friday Oct 4th, 2002 12:11 PM
Did the Vallejo Police Department supply a suspected mass murderer with the knife used to kill a 5-year old child and was there a subsequent police cover-up?
During a routine traffic stop in the early morning hours of February 27, 1984, the Vallejo Police Department confiscated a Bowey knife from a Vallejo Hells Angel named Charles “Chuck” Diaz. The incident was documented in case #84-02632.

The knife measured about 13 inches long, it was worn in a brown leather sheath, and it came with a sharpening stone and drawstring pouch. One side was completely sharp and the other side was partially sharp followed by a saw-tooth edge extending up to the handle.

On March 12, 1984, the Vallejo Police Department returned this knife to Chuck Diaz.

The reason Chuck got his knife back was because he came down to the police station and complained. The circumstances surrounding the knife's return were documented in case #84-010.

The cop who initially took the knife away from Chuck warned his superiors not to give it back because he’d one day use it to “cut someone's head off.” This warning was ignored. The cop took a picture of the knife before it was given back to Chuck. The cop even documented his disapproval in his Officer's Report.

Nonetheless, the Vallejo Police Department gave Chuck back his knife.

On November 26, 1984, the Vallejo Police Department arrested Chuck. Arrest report case #84-15845 noted he was in possession of a Bowey knife (resembling the one previously described.) Once again, Chuck retained possession of his knife.

On October 5, 1986, the Grondalski Family was murdered in Fort Bragg, California. The family consisted of William “Billy” Grondalski, Patricia “Patty” Grondalski, 17-year old Jerami Nolan Vandagriff, and 5-year old Dallas Grondalski. The entire family was executed inside their home. The murder weapons were a 45-caliber pistol and a knife.

In the case of 5-year old Dallas, her death certificate stated the cause of death was “multiple stab wounds of the neck and head.” The house was eventually torched in an attempt to cover up the crime. Dallas was found in the smoldering ruins of her bedroom clutching a doll. This was called “the worst mass murder in Mendocino County history.”

Billy Grondalski was a former Vallejo Hells Angel. He took his family to Fort Bragg to escape his past. When murdered, his club tattoo was sliced away from his left arm, probably with the same knife used to kill his little girl. One motive for the killings was that Billy left the club in “bad standing” and the club wanted its tattoo back because it was considered club property.

Although Hells Angels were primarily suspected, this case remained unsolved for over eight years.

On March 31, 1994, Charles Haas, a former Hells Angel himself, was arrested on federal drug charges (case #3:93CR139.) In exchange for leniency, he became a government informant and revealed everything he knew about the Grondalski murders.

Charles admitted he was an accessory to murder because he helped douse the bodies with gasoline then torch the house the day after the killings occurred. The idea was to destroy all physical evidence.

Charles fingered Gerald “Butch” Lester and Chuck. He said they were directly responsible for the murders. At the time of the murders, both were Vallejo Hells Angels, Butch was chapter president and Chuck was chapter vice president.

Butch told Charles what had happened. Butch accidentally shot Billy in the face with a 45 during a heated exchange then needed to eliminate the rest of the family because they were witnesses. As Butch shot Patty and Jerami, he ordered Chuck to “take care of that one,” meaning, eliminate the 5-year old girl. Chuck allegedly sawed away at the girl's neck to the point her spinal cord was severed and she was nearly decapitated.

In his official statement to the authorities, Charles said Chuck, “always carried a knife in a sheath.” Charles also said all weapons were destroyed including the knife and sheath. The knife taken away from Chuck and subsequently given back to him by Vallejo PD in 1984 was a “knife in a sheath.” It was also a Bowey knife, a survival/hunting type knife designed to rip through animal flesh and bone, a knife perfectly suitable for inflicting the type of damage sustained on the 5-year olds’ neck.

Eventually, in 1995, Butch and Chuck were arrested. No physical evidence (weapons included) was ever found linking them to the homicides. This entire case revolved around circumstantial evidence, the statements of co-conspirators, and jailhouse snitches. The Superior Court case docket numbers in Mendocino County are C19915, C19923, C22527, and C22830.

After three agonizing trials, Butch was sentenced to four life terms in state prison. All appeals have been denied.

The evidence against Chuck is weak. His trial is tentatively scheduled for 2003 and he's currently out on bail. Chuck's court case is indexed under #SCTM-9934592.

Even though he's been implicated in these murders it should be noted that Chuck remains innocent until proven guilty. Everything mentioned thus far is based on police reports and public records. He's only been accused of committing a crime and hasn't yet been convicted of one. Also, in fairness to the Hells Angels, there are a lot of them who disapprove of the manner the little girl was killed.

But what's very odd about this whole case is the lack of interest on the part of authorities in the 1984 knife incident involving Chuck Diaz. Come on, what better piece of damning evidence than an actual photograph of a possible murder weapon, especially when witnesses and informants made it clear that all weapons were destroyed.

The sad reality is that the Vallejo Police Department doesn't want the public knowing about this incident. They don't want the public thinking they were responsible for placing a knife back into the hands of a suspected murderer, someone who participated “in the worst mass murder in Mendocino County history.”

It wasn't until the former Vallejo cop who confiscated the knife came forward in 1995 and told Mendocino County authorities about the 1984 incident that they first learned about it. After learning about the incident, there's a strong indication that no effort whatsoever was made to trace the history or status of the Bowey knife after it got back into Chuck’s hands. Did he give it away, did he throw it away, or did he keep and use it in the 1986 murders? These were all questions that went unanswered and probably still remain unanswered. In short, there was no effort to “include or exclude,” as said in the cop world.

In the prosecutor's own written outline laying out his strategy on how he will present this case next year, there's absolutely no mention of the knife Chuck allegedly used in the crime, however, there is a specific entry that discusses the gun Butch used. This is ironic because the only crime Chuck stands accused of at the present time, since the case against him is weak with respect to others killed, is the little girl’s murder. The issue right now shouldn't be what happened to the gun but what happened to the knife since the focus will only be on the child’s exact cause of death.

The ex-cop who came forward provided Mendocino County authorities with an abundance of documents and information on the Vallejo Hells Angels. A photo of the confiscated knife was turned over as well. This information was given to Mendocino County authorities in May of 1995. During Butch's trial, did the prosecutor disclose this fact to the defense during Discovery or was it strategically withheld to avoid complications and potential embarrassment for Vallejo PD? The court record consists of about 30-volumes. Not once is the 1984 knife-incident mentioned nor is there any mention of the information the ex-cop volunteered.

It's odd that the authorities in this case explored every imaginable avenue or lead, even ones that were of low importance, but failed to make mention of the 1984 Diaz knife incident. Case in point, in Department of Justice Interview Report #99-30003-01, a potential investigative-lead was specifically asked in 2001 if he had any “knowledge of the knife that was used to kill the female child (Dallas Grondalski).” The subject was an admitted knife collector, someone with a keen sense of knives, yet none of the investigators conducting the interview showed this guy the picture of the knife Chuck possessed in 1984 and asked this fellow one very simple question, “Does this knife look familiar?”

Recently, the same investigator was asked point blank, “Did anyone show the picture of the knife to Charles Haas or anyone else who might recognize it and put it on Diaz’ belt,” and the response was vague, suspiciously vague. With reference to Mendocino County authorities who initially received possession of the photo of Chuck’s 1984 knife, the investigator’s response was that they “exhausted everything they could do with that,” referring to the photo of the knife. This still didn’t answer the question if they ever actually showed it to anyone for identification. The investigator went on to say that since Chuck was arrested, every knife in his house was tested yet couldn’t be more specific on the previous issue, and do you know why, because they never did anything with the ex-cop’s information; THEY DON’T WANT THE PUBLIC TO KNOW.

The sad reality is the Vallejo Police Department would like to forget the 1984 Chuck Diaz knife incident. They're embarrassed by it and they can't stomach the idea that they “may have” provided the suspected killer of a 5-year old child with the murder weapon. They're afraid of bad press and civil litigation too. Imagine, in this day and age of rampant liability, if gun manufacturers are liable for providing guns to people who kill, why should the Vallejo Police Department be immune from liability if they provided the knife that was used to butcher a 5-year old child? I'm sure a clever lawyer representing the surviving relatives could present an interesting argument in court with this one.

Bottom line, cops, in general, hate admitting they make mistakes. Whenever a mistake is made, cops have a tendency to distort, manipulate and hide the truth through creative report writing or fancy cop talk, lash back at those who criticize, complain or blow the whistle, or simply overlook important facts to avoid responsibility and embarrassment. A good example of lashing back was the recent Inglewood incident where a subject who shot video, which depicted a handcuffed prisoner being abused, was subsequently arrested on petty pretenses. The arrest was clearly an act of retaliation for exposing the ugly face of law enforcement and the “curbside justice” mentality that many cops still subscribe to.

The Vallejo Police Department didn't beat anyone up, but they did do something far worse, they wrote off the 1984 Diaz knife incident and hoped no one would remember. Rather than stepping forward and attempting to relieve themselves of this haunting episode and potential embarrassing situation by conducting a vigorous investigation to overcome public criticism and ridicule, Vallejo PD and others did nothing, in other words, THEY COVERED IT UP.

A picture of the actual photo discussed will be made available for viewing in a follow-up article.

If you have any information concerning this case, please comment and please remain anonymous.

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