Out of the Ashes

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One 15-year-old boy, an American who was friends with Bernard Jordan, would later tell police that he and Bernard were selling drugs for Freddy and Lupe, a local kid who worked for Freddy and aped the Jamaicans in speech and dress, with a preference for straw hats and shiny shirts. On the night of the fire, Freddy and Lupe came to him in a snit and complained that they were being ripped off. They picked up the boy, drove him to a wooded area in Dallas and pistol-whipped him until he agreed to point out the location of the Jordan house in Highland Hills. Freddy and Lupe then disappeared for several hours; when they came back, Lupe told the boy, "See, you fuck with Freddy and you burn, motherfucker."

The boy later heard about the Strawberry Trail fire and how the five Jordan kids had been burned alive. He told police that he and his grandmother were so terrified, they paid Freddy and Lupe the drug money that was supposedly missing.

Also on the night of the fire, one man who was at the motel overheard a conversation between Freddy and Lupe. "I was running drugs for Freddy Krueger, and I observed the two whispering about taking revenge on a B.J.," the witness said.

He knew who "B.J." was--Bernard Jordan. The cause for vengeance, he gathered from what he overheard, had something to do with drugs and money, and Freddy and Lupe were cooking up a plot. "They were whispering among each other," the witness said. "They left in a car--a small car. I believe Freddy was driving. There were others--how many, I can't recall." He presumed all of them were armed. "Because of their [Jamaican] affiliations, they had access to numerous weapons."

He saw Freddy and Lupe again several hours later. They were in a particularly jolly mood. The witness caught enough of the conversation to figure out what they found so funny: the sounds of people being burned alive. "I just remember that it was mocking--that people was burned and people was screaming and hollering," the witness said. "During their happy conversation, I heard that Lupe was the one that was supposed to have lit the match. He was boasting about it.

"You could see smiles and grins on their faces and frequent laughs."

Only later did he hear about the fire in Highland Hills and make the connection with what he'd heard that night.

Earlier on the night of the fire, another witness was acting as a lookout at the Regency Village apartments, which have since been torn down. The apartments boasted a slick Jamaican operation: The complex had multiple entrances, and the gangsters posted lookouts equipped with two-way radios at each end. If a lookout spotted a cop car, he'd radio the dude on the other end so the Jamaicans could slip out that side.

This witness had gotten crosswise with the Jamaicans on an earlier occasion, and he knew they didn't flinch at violence. One time some dope had shown up missing, and he and his friend were blamed for it. The gangsters tied the kids to chairs in an apartment and clobbered them on the head with pots and pans until they were convinced the boys were telling the truth that they hadn't done it.

This night, the witness would later tell police, he saw three Lincolns pull up at the apartments, and out jumped Curly, Silky, Freddy and another Jamaican nicknamed "Big Man." There were others, too, whom the boy didn't recognize. They started pulling off their silk shirts, then ordered the kid to fetch some soap at the 7-Eleven next to the apartments. They used it to scrub their hands and arms. Then Curly pulled two cans from the trunk of one of the Lincolns; the boy could smell gasoline on the cans and on the Jamaicans' clothes.

Curly had a job for the boy and another accomplice: He handed them $75, ordered them to get rid of the clothes and cans and told them to stay away from the apartments the rest of the night.

The witness would tell police, "Curly was talking and saying, 'I licked the blood-clot booty boy.'" The boy wasn't sure what that meant. "He was talking Jamaican." "Blood clot," in fact, is the basest of insults, a distinctly Jamaican expression with its own peculiar etymology. "Clot" is a Jamaican pronunciation of cloth, and a "blood" clot is a dirty menstrual rag. "Booty boy" is possibly a misunderstanding of "batty boy," a derogatory term for homosexual in Jamaican parlance.

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Julie Lyons
Contact: Julie Lyons

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