Incident Summary:

10/22/1973: An assailant raped a white female psychology student, identified as "Ellen Linder," at gunpoint (this name is a pseudonym given to conceal the victim's identity) in San Francisco, California, in the United States. During the attack the assailant told Linder that racism and oppression of black people needed to stop, and he threatened to kill her and told her that others would be killed. The perpetrator was later identified as Jesse Lee Cooks, one of the eight men who came to be known as the Zebra killers, and this was the second of 20 racially motivated attacks (with 23 victims) committed by the Zebra murderers, a group of black Muslims who belonged to the Nation of Islam religious sect.



United States

North America

region/u.s. state:


San Francisco

Location Details:
Market Street

Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Armed Assault
Type of Attack (more) Hostage Taking (Kidnapping)
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Private Citizens & Property
Name of Entity Not applicable
Specific Description white female student, "Ellen Linder"
Nationality of Target United States
Additional Information
Hostages Yes
Number of Hostages 1
US Hostages 1
Hours of Kidnapping 2
Days of Kidnapping 0
Outcome Hostage(s) released by perpetrators
Ransom No
Property Damage No
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Firearms Unknown Gun Type
Weapon Details
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?Yes
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Additional Information Jesse Cooks was not indicted for the rape of "Ellen Linder" after Linder agreed not to press charges in exchange for Cooks' guilty plea for first-degree murder of another victim, which prosecutors told her would result in the same life sentence as if he were also charged and convicted on the four charges involved with Linder's kidnapping and rape. This victim's real name was not disclosed and thus, the pseudonym "Ellen Linder" was used. The eight Zebra killers were black Muslims, who belonged to the San Francisco chapter of the independent socio-religious sect, the Nation of Islam. The perpetrators followed the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, and believed that their deity motivated them to kill the "devil," which the men interpreted to mean white people. The Nation of Islam paid for the legal representation of most members during their trials for these attacks. This was the second in a series of 20 racially motivated attacks (with 23 victims) by the perpetrators who came to be known as the Zebra killers. See also events 197310200002, 197310290003, 197311250004, 197312110002, 197312130001, 197312130002, 197312200003, 197312200004, 197312220002, 197312220003, 197312230001, 197401280001, 197401280002, 197401280003, 197401280004, 197404010003, 197401280005, 197402030002, 197402240005, 197403070002, 197403090001, 197403070004, 197403000001, 197403000002, 197403210002, 197404140003, and 197404160003
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Zebra killers No
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 1
Number of Captured Perpetrators 1
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 0 Fatalities / 1 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 0
Number of U.S. Fatalities 0
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 1
Number of U.S. Injured 1
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
Prentice Earl Sanders and Bennett Cohen, "The Zebra Murders: A Season of Killing, Racial Madness, and Civil Rights," Arcade Publishing, Inc., 2006.
Clark Howard, "Zebra: The true account of the 179 days of terror in San Francisco," Richard Marek Publishers, 1979.