The classic California girl is supposed to be a long-legged blond beauty who spends her days being pursued by handsome surfers while she frolics in the sun and sand.
Lisa Ann Miller was a California girl, and although she was petite and pretty, she never came close to being a beach bunny. Her childhood was miserable.
She was born in the Contra Costa county-seat town of Martinez at the edge of Suison Bay to Floyd and Glennie L. Hart Miller on July 9, 1962, the same year President Kennedy announced that U.S. military advisers in Vietnam would return fire if fired upon; that John H. Glenn, Jr., became the first American to orbit earth; and Rachel Carson launched the environmental movement with her frightening book, Silent Spring.
It was also the summer that the first known victim of the Boston Strangler was found murdered in her home. But Anna Slesers's ghastly slaying occurred nearly four thousand miles across the country from Fremont, California, where Lisa Ann spent most of her abbreviated and unhappy childhood.
On the southeast shore of San Francisco Bay the cityof Fremont is spread along the site of the old Mission San Jose de Guadalupe, which was established by Spanish priests, soldiers, and explorers in 1797. The city as it's known today wasn't formed until 1956, six years before Lisa Ann's birth, when the Alameda County communities of Mission San Jose, Warm Springs, Niles, Irvington, and Centerville joined together into a single municipality.
The new city, which today has a population of around 131,000 people, was named after John C. Fremont, an early soldier, explorer, and mapmaker who played a cardinal role in wresting California from the Spanish and developing it for American settlement.
Lisa Ann's childhood was spent near the natural beauty of the Bay area south and across the Dumbarton Bridge from San Francisco. But it was spoiled and frittered away by the alcoholic rages and violence of her father. Floyd Miller was a mean drunk who flew into rages, broke furniture, and punched the women in the household when he was boozing. That was most of the time.
The family patriarch's disreputable behavior produced the kind of home that breeds human wreckage. Miller's drinking binges and handy violence was typical of behavior that fit a classic recipe for producing children whose tragically battered bodies and egos can predestine them to become losers or failures.
During most of her childhood growing up in the East Bay area, Lisa was squeezed into a double-wide trailer with her parents and four siblings, including a sister, Johnnie Elaine, who was one year older than she. Despite her wretched homelife, Lisa Ann held her own with her classwork at school and developed a taste for serious reading. Before the Millers interrupted their peripatetic wanderings along the East Bay to settle inFremont, she attended schools in both the Concord and Pittsburgh communities in Contra Costa County.
Slim, with blue eyes and mouse-brown hair that bleached almost blond in the California sunshine, Lisa Ann was neither ugly nor exceptionally pretty. And although she couldn't by any stretch of the imagination have been considered the most popular girl in school, she seemed to make friends easily enough among both male and female classmates. Her plain appearance apparently didn't create any problems for her as she entered adolescence and began dating.
The dating scene in the Bay Area can be especially exciting and fruitful for teenage girls. Not only do they have access to their male schoolmates, but young sailors and other servicemen are all over the area.
In the 1970s, when Lisa Ann was a teenager in Fremont, the huge Naval Air Base at Moffett Field just across the Dumbarton Bridge at the narrow southern tip of San Francisco Bay was home to thousands of sailors.
A drive of a few more minutes north along the Nimitz Freeway (U.S. 880), however, could carry Lisa or her friends to an inviting clutter of even more Navy bases, including the U.S. Naval Air Station at Alameda, the U.S. Naval Supply Center, and the U.S. Naval Receiving Station at man-made Treasure Island under the San Francisco--Oakland Bay Bridge.
Lisa Ann was sixteen years old when she became pregnant. She forged her parents' permission, and in 1978 married a young enlisted sailor, Steven Rohn. The groom was only a couple of years older than the bride. A son, Steven Franklin Rohn, was born to them on March 24, 1979. The young couple got along well enough together so that on April 22, 1980, Lisa gave birth to their second son, Michael Jack Rohn.
Things weren't going as well back in her parents'trailer however. Floyd Miller's drinking was raging out of control, and during a violent confrontation in 1980, Johnnie Elaine blasted her father in the stomach with a twelve-gauge shotgun.
Miller was as tough as he was mean, and he survived the terrible injury, although he spent months in a hospital. Police investigators decided that the nineteen-year-old girl shot her father in self-defense, and she was never charged in the case. Floyd Miller lived seven years after the shooting. And by the time he died in a car accident in 1987, his daughter Johnnie Elaine had been dead nearly four years.
Johnnie Elaine hadn't been as resilient, or as lucky, as her father was. She was living with a boyfriend in a southern Oregon commune in 1983 when she was shot to death. The shooting was officially classified by local authorities as an accident, but not everyone who knew Johnnie Elaine believed that. Dark murmurings still persist that the troubled young woman committed suicide, possibly as a final desperate act of guilt over her father's shooting; as the result of years of abuse; or due to some other cause.
Years later People magazine would quote Lisa as saying through her lawyer that she was very upset and deeply affected by her older sister's death.
By the time Johnnie Elaine died, Lisa's marriage had crumbled. The star-crossed union began to sour shortly after the birth of her second child. In 1981 she and her husband were living across the country near the world's largest naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, when they were divorced.
Lisa was nineteen years old, and her mother and other family members had moved inland and farther north in California, to the rustic mountain town of Weed near Mount Shasta, at the edge of the heavilyforested Cascade Mountain range. With her boys in tow, Lisa made the transcontinental trek back to her home state and enrolled as a student at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed. She was attending the small-town college in Siskiyou County when she met a handsome dark-haired lothario named Raymond Arnold Huberts.
Fate and body chemistry mixed with a mutual desire to feed off each other. When Lisa and Huberts met, they paired up and stuck together as easily and naturally as pollen to a honeybee.
An experienced con man and fast-buck artist who was rapidly approaching his fortieth birthday, Huberts was nearly twice as old as Lisa and had been in and out of trouble with police most of his adult life.
Born in the north Chicago suburb of Winnetka on October 14, 1943, by the time Huberts met the twenty-year-old divorcee, he had drifted around the country trying his slippery hands at a variety of illegal activities.
His most serious run-in with the criminal justice system occurred in Portland, Oregon, where he was convicted of possession of counterfeit currency. He served a term at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, for the offense. But he also compiled a record of other arrests in Pennsylvania and South Florida, for alleged offenses ranging from willful cruelty to a child to mail fraud.
By 1983, when the one-time midwesterner and the California divorcee teamed up, Huberts was back on the West Coast. Soon after he and Lisa met, they left the isolation of the small towns and forests of Siskiyou County and moved downstate to the San Francisco Bay area where she had spent her childhood. The geographical area was more promising and the timing right for someone with a desire for quick money and few if any scruples about how to cash in.
The South Bay on both sides of the Dumbarton Bridge attracted hundreds of thousands of families and single men and women during the early and mid-1980s. Computers, aerospace, and the military were all big, thriving businesses. Universities, colleges, and private companies poured additional millions of dollars into the local economy in payrolls and purchases for high-tech research.
If Huberts spent any time attempting to find work in the aerospace or computer industries, there is no indication of those efforts in police records. Police accused him of running a call-girl operation.
Lisa didn't have the skills or training to slip into a high-paying job in the sophisticated industrial world of computers or aerospace. But she was eager and willing to cash in on the fast, easy money to be made in the sex trade. Huberts was also quick to recognize a promising opportunity when he saw it.
Lisa had been divorced less than two years when her life began lurching out of control, rapidly plunging into a downward spiral of self-destruction. She wasn't one of those fortunate women who was a natural beauty with cover-girl loveliness. But she was young and sexy and she knew how to make the most of her assets. Bay area police records indicate that soon after her first meeting with Huberts, she went to work with the silver-tongued ex-convict in the dial-a-prostitute business. On-the-job experience provided all the training she needed to become a big money maker.
Since San Francisco's earliest days, through the period of the Gold Rush, up to the present time, trade in commercial sex has always been big business in the Bay area.
During the Gold Rush years, hundreds of boys who were either kidnapped, abandoned by parents, or ranaway seeking western adventure, wound up in "peg houses." The boys were forced to sit naked on greased wooden pegs, which dilated their anuses. Pederasts with gold dust in their pockets merely checked out the dimensions of the pegs in order to select the boy they wanted for sex.
When topless dancing first emerged on the American scene, Carol Doda captured the public imagination for her ponderous breasts and nightly on-stage gyrations at a popular San Francisco club.
Before acting out their own tragic Cain and Abel drama, brothers Artie and Jim Mitchell made San Francisco a world center of the pornographic movie business. Headquartering themselves in the O'Farrell Theatre in the city's tenderloin, they began by showing and producing loops and soft-core films. Then they moved on to create the hard-core classic, Behind the Green Door. The movie grossed more than $25 million and made a porn superstar out of Marilyn Chambers whose fresh, clean, all-American face once appeared on boxes of Ivory Snow.
The Mitchell brothers' smut empire was already in serious trouble in February 1991 when Jim fatally shot his younger brother, Artie. But the enterprising brothers are hardly missed, if they are missed at all, by the legion of streetwalkers and outcall hookers who keep the sex business thriving in the Bay area.
Throughout San Francisco's history, prostitutes have walked the Tenderloin area around Market and Sixth streets, the Embarcadero, Mission Street, and just about every other major thoroughway and many of the side streets; and worked the crib houses, massage parlors, and escort services. The money in the business is fast, and depending on individual outlook, easy.
Being a successful prostitute can involve much morethan mastering the mere mechanics of various sexual acts. Once they have taken the plunge from naive innocence or busy amateur to calculating professional, prostitutes have historically honed the arts of seduction and thievery.
Prostitutes traditionally associate with other hookers, pimps, thieves, fast-buck artists, and various other rogues and pharisees who exist on the fringes of society. And they instinctively realize, or quickly learn, that it can be easier to steal from one or two clients than to service a dozen.
Cash, credit cards, social security cards, driver's licenses, and other identification documents or valuables can be slipped out of billfolds or pockets when an unwary client is sleeping or has his mind and attention focused on other things. Credit cards can be the most valuable if a thief or a confederate knows how to utilize them for a series of quick purchases. Criminals are quick to update their techniques when trouble develops, and credit card thieves are no different.
For a while hookers or their accomplices usually took billfolds and everything in them, or simply cleaned out the credit cards. But that was easily noticed by the owners and led to too much trouble, so some of the more professional thieves developed a safer system. They began replacing the victim's cards with others that were "burned out." The substitutes were pilfered earlier and used by the thieves to run up large balances that were likely to show up soon on "hot sheets" that list forged and stolen cards.
Professional credit card swindlers often buy or swap for cards stolen by prostitutes of both sexes, as well as by pickpockets, burglars, petty thieves who rifle the mail, and other small-time criminals who feed on the darker edges of society. That was the element of societythat the young mother from the Bay area moved into after meeting Huberts.
Lisa was twenty years old, and, with her blue eyes, blond hair, the right cosmetics and tight skirts, was an overnight success as a whore. Once she stepped firmly into the tawdry neon world of the sex trade, the cash began rolling in. Any innocence that might have survived her earlier life was quickly plundered by her new profession.
In November, a few months after her twenty-first birthday, police moved in. Lisa was picked up and accused of prostitution. The next day, authorities removed her boys from her home in Fremont. Police said the children, three and four years old, were left alone for at least twenty-four hours without adult care or supervision.
Lisa's mother, Glennie, eventually wound up with custody of the boys, and a few years later they were living with her in Yreka, some four hundred miles north of San Francisco and about fifteen miles from the Oregon state line.
Vice squad cops in a string of East Bay communities became familiar with the hardworking young hooker. Over a period of a few weeks, she compiled an impressive rap sheet that listed arrests in Hayward, Alameda, and Berkeley.
She became familiar with the routine of arrest, the photographs and fingerprints taken during the booking process; with courtroom proceedings, such as probable cause hearings; with procedures governing bail, and with the legal justice system's commitment to protecting the constitutional rights of the accused.
She knew of the Miranda warning, the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court requirement that suspects in police custody must be advised they have a right to refuse to talk,that any statements they make may be used as evidence against them, and that they have the right to have an attorney present.
But listening to the warning read in a real-life situation is different than hearing a Kojak, a Columbo, or some other television sleuth rattle it off to a hangdog suspect. It's a miserable and frightening experience, and you can't dismiss it by flicking off the tube.
Call girls are generally among the most sophisticated, better protected hookers. Some of them are tutored by lawyers about what they can or cannot say to prospective clients, in order to avoid arrests by undercover vice cops. The smart girls don't talk about money for sex, but leave that up to the customer. And when police officers bring the subject up, they often set themselves up for accusations of entrapment, which leads to the dismissal of any charges.
But if there was any hint of glamour tied to the sordid world of the outcall prostitution business for Lisa, it had turned sour and was proven to be false. There was nothing glamorous about being rounded up and hauled into police stations and temporary lockups with streetwalkers, pushers, pill poppers, crackheads, and assorted lunatics who were periodically swept off the most misery-brushed streets of Alameda County.
Lisa's enthusiasm for working as a laborer in the Bay area prostitution trade quickly began to fade after her brushes with police. Huberts was also beginning to consider a change of geography and occupation. He had logged his own vice arrests in Palo Alto, Alameda, and Hayward.
Speaking to journalists through her lawyer years later, Lisa claimed she regretted her venture into the commercial sex trade, but explained that she was very young and dazzled by the money.
Authorities never pursued either prostitution or abuse charges against her for the back-to-back alleged incidents involving her professional activities and parenting lapse. In fact, neither she nor Huberts were ever convicted on any of the vice charges.
In the early spring of 1986 Lisa and Huberts left the grubby hopes and pathetic realities of the prostitution business behind them. They headed across the country for a new beginning in the East.
Copyright © 1994 by Clifford L. Linedecker.