Globe and Mail: Pampered Betesh, other 3 shared interests despite backgrounds

From XFamily - Children of God

Pampered Betesh, other 3 shared interests despite backgrounds

The Globe and Mail/1978-03-11

Saul David Betesh had everything going for him when he was adopted at the age of six days by a well-to-do Jewish family living in Forest Hill.

The three other men who stood trial for almost eight weeks for the murder of Emanuel Jaques didn't have such easy childhoods. They were from working-class families and couldn't get everything they wanted at their every whim.

Destiny, however, brought the four together. Mr. Betesh and Robert Wayne Kribs have met the same end: both are convicted of first-degree in the killing of a 12-year-old shoeshine boy. Josef Paul Woods has been convicted of second-degree murder and Werner Gruener has been acquitted. If Mr. Betesh ended up the high-profile character of the trial, it was probably because the 27-year-old wanted it that way.

He was the one who went to police after he had been seen last with Emanuel on July 28. He was the one who spilled the whole story in shockingly vivid detail.

Mr. Betesh craved attention. He craved power, a feeling of self-importance. He admits it, impassively, without shame. And anyone who has had close contact with the man is quick to point it out.

Saul never liked himself as a person, said Arthur Yonger, a 25-year-old who worked with a homosexuals' rights group in Toronto, where Mr. Betesh often went.

Mr. Betesh is described as a chronic liar, he was an aggressive and vicious child who would take a straight razor to classes at Forest Hill elementary school and threaten his classmates.

We feared for our lives, his mother told a stunned courtroom repeatedly when she took the stand to recount the lurid story about the boy she could never handle. The boy was kicked out of every school he ever went to and ended up in a centre for disturbed children at the age of 17. We locked ourselves into the bedroom at night, we were so scared.

His parents wanted the best for him. Fancy toys, a comfortable home later in the York Mills-Bayview area - the best of private schools, religious and even piano lessons. Psychiatric treatment too, from the age of 5. But everything he touched he destroyed, as his father put it.

Mr. Betesh even had good looks going for him. Strong, regular facial features and a tall slim frame, he looked calm and the most presentable of the defendants as he sat in the court prisoners' box, wearing a three-piece brown suit and tie. But his neat appearance at court was a well-planned move on Mr. Betesh's part and a far cry from the way his mother described his grooming in the past few years. He was a mess, she said. He had grown to be an old man. He was seedy, dissipated . . . . His teeth were all yellow.

He hated his mother, seeing her as a domineering, nagging woman who wore the pants in the family. He had pity for his father, a businessman in the linen trade.

I never really liked anyone, Mr. Betesh says. His last sexual experience with a woman was about 10 years ago, and the homosexual and one-time prostitute started getting involved with young boys a few years ago, with the ages getting progressively lower.

Mr. Betesh is a bright man and markedly articulate - especially compared to his co-defendants. He enjoyed immensely the three days when he was in the spotlight as he testified in the witness box.

He has the ability to do anything he sets his mind to but considers it too late unless he gets some help, psychologist Toby Levinson said about him after she examined him shortly after his arrest. Otherwise his life is doomed. Mr. Kribs was the thin 6-foot-5 drifter who criss-crossed the country on freight trains and never stayed long enough to settle down.

The bearded 29-year-old, who left home when he was 14 after staying in reformatories and a mental institution, met Mr. Betesh about two years ago at a homosexual rights' group meeting.

The two men had a common interest in CB radios - an interest all four prisoners shared. Mr. Betesh and Mr. Kribs both liked war games, and they shared young boys as sexual partners.

Known as Stretcher by the street people he knew, Mr. Kribs has been described as a beast, just a beast by Yvonne Samuels, a woman who met the man often when she was visiting the boarding house where Mr. Betesh lived in 1976.

Mr. Kribs came to court daily in the same tattered jeans and flowered shirt. He had such a temper that, when he was brought back to the courthouse to identify a witness the day after he was convicted of the murder charge, he tore a sink off the wall in a holding cell, flooding the room.

Mr. Kribs has been described by little boys as young as 8 as being the key person behind sexual relations with them, which were usually combined with picture-taking sessions. He sold the photographs to pornographic literature dealers. He worked for a while at Charlie's Angels body rub parlor beneath the 245 Yonge St. apartment where he was living, and in which the Jaques boy was sexually assaulted and killed last July 29.

In his statement to police three days later, Mr. Kribs admitted to having sex with Emanuel, handcuffing the boy and helping to kill him. I didn't mean to see the kid killed, Mr. Kribs told Staff-Sergeant Gerald Stevenson. I probably would have confessed to the crime eventually because of my conscience.

Born in Windsor to a Ford assembly-line worker and and his wife, Mr. Kribs has had no contact with his parents, who are retired and live in Florida. Besides his lawyer, Gordon Goldman, his only visitor in the isolation cell at Toronto East Detention Centre has been his younger brother.

After Mr. Kribs was convicted by the jury on Feb. 15, Mr. Goldman failed in his attempt to persuade Judge Maloney to send his client to the Ontario Mental Health centre at Penetanguishene for psychiatric treatment.

It's his last chance, Mr. Goldman said in an interview at the time. He's not crazy. He just has big sexual problems. Mr. Woods had a variety of streetnames, including Crazy Joe, Laser Joe and Mad Scientist. He liked fortune telling, madcap scientific experiments, CB radios and drugs.

He was heavily into drugs from the tender age of 16, as one psychiatrist who has examined him, put it. The 27-year-old dropped out of school after Grade 7 and left his family in Sudbury. He's an outgoing, talkative man, the only one of the four prisoners who would smile at journalists covering the trial - especially the women - when he walked past them on the way to the prisoners' dock. He seemed to have one favorite to whom he'd flash the peace sign with his two forefingers.

After one hearing in which a psychiatrist gave testimony of Mr. Woods' deranged mental state - characterized by his lack of concern for others Mr. Woods made a broad gesture with his hand on his chest as the prisoners were led out of the courtroom, as if to say with pride: Look what I've done.

His lawyer, George Marron, claims that Mr. Woods is neither a homosexual nor a pedophiliac, and that he has expressed a preference for drag queens and older women. But, one of the many boys who testified at the Jaques trial said that he was forced to have sex with Mr. Woods.

His drive for sex, nevertheless, is secondary to his drive for drugs.

Of medium height and stocky frame, Mr. Woods came to court usually in a gray jacket and black shirt, his thick hair combed back from his face and his eyes squinting frequently when he didn't wear his brown-framed glasses. Those glasses became somewhat of a problem after they were broken at the outset of the trial by, Mr. Marron claims, a prison attendant. They said it was an accident, that the glasses slipped, the lawyer said. But you could see that was no crack. They were broken.

Mr. Woods chuckles a lot, sometimes at unlikely moments, and enjoys clowning around. Mr. Marron said Mr. Woods believed he could rob banks by shooting laser beams through the doors and could kill pigeons in the park by taking the insides out of microwave ovens.

He invented a device he calls a psytron, which he says by electronics and harmonics could affect others' thoughts and could control them at a distance. He claimed to hypnotize people, although none of his acquaintances who took the witness stand said he had succeeded in hypnotizing them. He tells fortunes with tarot cards, but hasn't fared well in that field either.

Mr. Gruener was known by many regulars on Yonge Street as a man who rode his 10-speed bicycle up and down the mainstreet as early as 5 a.m. playing soldier, headphones on his ears as he listened to music.

His 10-speed - equipped with all sorts of gadgets and wires - was one of his prize possessions besides his Bible, which he reads constantly although he has trouble quoting passages by heart from it.

Mr. Gruener spent a lot of his time handing out pamphlets on the Children of God sect, a group which he faithfully follows and has spent time with in a commune.

A man of very few words, as his lawyer Earl Levy has described him, the tall, slim Mr. Gruener has a particularly unassuming, even child-like way about him. Eyes to the ground and a solemn, rather dazed look on his face, in the courtroom he rarely showed much interest in the proceedings.

Like the other defendants, Mr. Gruener liked citizens' band radios because, he said, it gives me a chance to talk to people in the city, to communicate - something Mr. Gruener did not do easily in an everyday situation.

The 29-year-old maintains flatly he is not a homosexual, although he says he has had homosexual experiences. For the last four years he worked on and off at the body rub parlor beneath the apartment, but he said he had no idea what went on in the private rooms.

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Mr. Gruener immigrated with his parents to Canada when he was 7, living for about a year in Dryden, Ont., before moving to British Columbia. He has a grade 10 education.

His parents, he says, are very religious and his mother had a mental breakdown when he was 13 or 14. But he reflects on his family life as being real good. I got along well with my parents.

He never told them about the murder charge, he testified at the Jaques trial in a barely audible voice, mumbling most of the time. But his mother found out about it last week from a radio report and wrote to him, he said.

When he rode his bike, Mr. Gruener often wore a Davy Crockett hat over his long sandy hair, pushed back from his bearded face. He would carry raccoon tails and toys and bells with him.