The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Racist Skinhead Guilty in Savage Murders of Tampa Homeless Men

By Ryan Lenz on October 19, 2011 - 2:24 pm, Posted in White Supremacist

James Robertson, a member of the racist skinhead group Blood & Honour, was trying to finagle his way out of a lengthy prison term for bank robbery when he offered police details of two murders in Tampa. The murders had gone unsolved for years, and police had all but dismissed the case as cold. That was until they met their snitch. Robertson was one of four men involved in the murders. His hubristic pitch for leniency ultimately was his undoing. On Tuesday, a federal jury convicted him in the 1998 beating deaths of Alfred Williams, 62, and Richard Arseneau, 44 — both homeless men in Tampa. He faces life in prison when sentenced.

“These men had no material goods, no wealth,” prosecutor Lee Bentley said in his closing statements, according to St. Petersburg Times. “They were struggling to survive. This defendant and three of his associates took the only thing these men had left — their lives.”

At the time of the murders, four members of Blood and Honour were on a violent binge on the streets of Tampa as part of a game they called “bum rolling.” Their brutality knew no bounds. Williams was beaten with fists, clubs and a tire iron so savagely that police would find his teeth scattered across the ground. Arseneau was repeatedly hit in the head with an ax. Police also said two others were attacked — one man who saved himself by jumping into a river and another who escaped when a gun pointed at his chest misfired.

Investigators found no evidence linking anyone to the crimes. But according to prosecutors, Robertson in 2003 provided information about his “principal role” in the deaths while trying to clear himself from any involvement. Of course, it didn’t help that three other members of Blood and Honour — Cory Hulse, Kenneth Hoover and Charles Marovskis — had pleaded guilty to charges related to the deaths and were cooperating with authorities.

At the time, the murders further marred the reputation of Blood and Honour, a shadowy international coalition of racist skinhead gangs based in the United Kingdom. According to a federal indictment of Marovskis, members of Blood and Honour in Tampa “considered homeless persons as an inferior class of persons regardless of race. ‘Bum rolling’ was a term used … to describe the activity of targeting and committing acts of violence against homeless persons.”

And how were they rewarded for the attack? One of the assailants, Hoover, told police the members received congratulatory spider web tattoos — a sign of honor in a dishonorable gang.

  • Scott Shepherd

    By the way… thank you all for allowing me to join in this venue with all of you!

  • Scott Shepherd

    I always hate the death of anyone… but as stated by others these skinheads have no respect for the life of others! With that being the case.. the death penalty is in order!

  • Mick

    History of British subcultures aside, the guys who did this are form of life festering down there somewhere with pubic lice, maggots and the AIDS virus! Beating up a homeless, possibly mentally ill guy with no money, no friends who’s already at the end of their rope. Disgusting! The only part of this story that makes me glad is the part where one of them ratted out his pals and still got prison time. With a jacket that says “police informer” he should have a grand old time in the Big House!

  • Fnord

    As an old skin and a anti-fascist, I would just like to say that Im pleased by this thread.

    Also, Lonewolf, there is a difference between killing the enemy in a military conflict and killing civilians for political reason. One is combat, the other is murder.

  • Robert Pinkerton

    Thank you, Mr. Hockley. Since I retired, I have shaved my head every Spring Equinox and kept it shaven until either Fall Equinox or Hallows. No political motivation is involved; simply, I wish to save the money I would otherwise spend on getting barbered. Imputation to me of ethnic bigotry on account of my tonsorial preference is absurd.

  • Pete Hockley

    I’m about to give you a potted history of the beginnings of The Skinheads, from my point of view.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skinhead

    The Skins morphed out of the Mod movement of the 60′s in the UK, of which we have had numerous revivals over the past decades. The Mods, did, and still do listen almost exclusively to Music with is roots in Rnb, Blues, Soul, Ska, Bluebeat, Rocksteady and Reggae. Essentially Music Of Black Origins.
    The Skins loved Jamaican music, some soul and rock. Like their older brothers the Mods, Skins were racially tolerant in the beginning, but did have a bit of a reputation for being violent towards people who stared at them, as in ” ‘Oo you screwing?” (Who are you looking at, and for what reason, Sirrah?”). They didn’t like Hippies very much either as they thought they were unwashed. Their Style was drawn from white working class roots. Work boots, Shortened 501 Levis, Ben Sherman shirts or Fred Perry shirts, thin clip-on braces, topped of by those who could afford it a Crombie overcoat or cheap copy, in the evenings 3 button tonic suits, with loafers or Loakes. They also followed Football (Soccer) fanatically, this brought them into contact with the more bone headed Racist football hooligans. Remember this is the late 60′s early seventies.
    Now fast forward to the late 70′s a new generation has come up, the Oi bands, vigorously pushed by A journo a Sounds called Gary Bushell,
    ( http://www.garry-bushell.co.uk/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garry_Bushell )
    He also as I remember started pushing the more right wing Bands, Like Skrewdriver.
    Mind you the funniest thing I saw at this time, was, getting off the Tube at Swiss Cottage in London. It was at the front of the train and the only other person getting of the train was the biggest, blackist skinhead I’d seen in my life until then. On the back of his levi jacket read, NF Rools. To this day I don’t know if he was being ironic or serious.
    Any Hoo I digress. In response to the Nationalist path that most mainstream skins seemed to take one band stepped forward, The Redskins.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....ature=fvsr
    Great band live and on record.
    So I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t class all Skins together, they are not all racist, homophobic (there is a large gay skin subculture), bonehead idiots.
    But as many people on here have said, if killing people is morally wrong, then the state killing people is also morally wrong.
    Stay Free,
    We are legion!

  • Sam Molloy

    If there is going to be the Death Penalty, these two murders cry out for it.

  • JimRinX

    I think it says it all that, while there were candlelight vigils, protesting two death sentences, going on outside of two Prisons in California and Georgia, the State of Texas Executed the Mother F#@kers who chained James Byrd Jr. to the back of their pickup, and drug him to death, in 1998, WITHOUT ANYONE SHEDDING A TEAR!!!

  • Tom Shelley

    In response to daemonesslisa:

    We agree on the original skinheads. I as , you probably do, support anti-racist skinheads. I have found a lot of info, some fact, some opinion, and some from the SPLC, that has convinced me it’s a good thing when Nazi boneheads get the crap beaten out of them- the more often the better, and the further it goes the better. But I have decided that killing them is wrong. First, I’m generally anti-death penalty. Second, some/many/all? of those who change and leave that movement, bring others with them out of it. In a Nat’l Geographic documentary about them, a former Nazi says that after he left he successfully got a lot of the people he had recruited to follow him.

    Tom

  • CM

    The death penalty is society’s way of saying that killing people who don’t measure up to our standards is OK. If it’s wrong for a James Robertson to do that, it’s wrong for the rest of us, too. Putting people to death is simply the wrong way to affirm our belief in the sanctity of life.

  • daemonesslisa

    It’s unfortunate that these killers call themselves Skinheads, especially knowing who the original and REAL Skinheads are. The term to be used for these losers is Bonehead. Nothing inside, no brain, just bone.

    (By the way, I know the original Skins weren’t angels either, with the Gay-bashing and Immigrant-bashing).

    As for the death penalty…I don’t think the current methods are a deterrent at all. I think burning at the stake is a more fitting punishment. Burn a few of these nazis, and you’re gonna see people giving up this white nationalist shit once and for all, hopefully.

  • Jonas Rand

    “These skinheads deserve the death penalty.”

    So much for Exodus 20:13, Pastor Clary.

  • kate

    i don’t think the death penalty is useful as a deterrent to crime and I’d be a liar if I didn’t say I think these and others like them shouldn’t suffer like the others.

    But revenge serves no one and heals nothing, it just perpetuates the crime of murder.

    I agree also with walkaway who pointed out how the conservative rhetoric has contributed to the further marginalization and dehumanization of anyone that does not fit their “values” narrative of being middle class, christian, male and anglo.

    BTW — where I am from now spider web tattoos on the elbows are a marker of having spent time in the state pen. I’ve seen former inmates identify each other on the street with their tattoos.

    In addition, spider web tattoos are always popular with the biker crowd, another group of socially marginalized people who do to ignorance think that violence and anti-social activity are positive.

  • Webster

    I agree with the Pastor. These murderers deserve the death penalty. I also believe in everlasting punishment after death for unrepentant murderers and expediting their trip to that abode is the Right thing.

  • Lone Wolf

    A few years ago, I spoke to the father of a young woman who died during the Oklahoma City bombing and initially he wanted to kill the bombers with his bare hands…after a year or two, he became so rageful that his life became rather unmanageable…he found relief in talking to others who had lost a family member by violent murder and came to an understanding and some inner peace with the understanding that killing others for killing others, never really brings anyone back from the dead…this loving, caring, and forgiving father, now strongly opposes the death penalty…he believes in non-violent action to encourage change as did Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Ghandhi..

  • ruben

    pastor johnny clary is right……what these racist animals did to those unfortunate homeless people is just a sample of what these barbaric humanoids are capable of doing……just think of all the people that these type of neo nazi hate groups have killed that no one knows about……and like typical cowards they always target the weakest members of society.i agree they should not be allowed to brag about this with other racists in prison…..the gallows is a fitting end for them.

  • Nancy H. F

    I was standing on the steps to the Philadelphia Basilica SS Peter & Paul when I heard of these attacks of which had happened the evening before. I believe my prayers in this matter have truly been answered. Thank You. Sheperds Speak The Lords Prayer And The Lord Hast Answered.

  • Pastor Johnny Clary

    These skinheads deserve the death penalty. So many think the skinheads are small and insignificant but it only took 4 to torture and murder these men. These racists need to be used as an example that this type of thing will not be tolorated. They took the lives of these poor homeless men and it is only fair that they pay the penalty for their crime with theoir own lives. It is not fair that they will spend their lives in prison associating with other Aryan groups and being treated like royality among them.

  • MST

    Sick and sad.

  • A walkaway

    Caitlin, this sort of stuff is very common. There is a report “Hate and Violence on Main Street” put out by the National Coalition for the Homeless ( http://www.nationalhomeless.org/ ) that gets into how bad it is, and connects it with the rhetoric coming from conservatives about “Choosing that lifestyle” and so on.

  • ruben

    and being a blood thirsty savage killer is not an inferior class of person you morons……i would rather sit at a dinner table with the persons you murdered in cold blood than you barbaric animals.

  • Lone Wolf

    I suppose it is a tangled web we sometimes weave…this blog really got my attention because I have seen a number of Army and Marine Corps enlisted return from Iraq and Afghanistan who didn’t have spider web elbows when they left but have proudly displayed them upon their return as a badge of honor. It reminds me of an uncle of mine who is very proud of his native heritage and was on Omaha Beach during the Normandy invasion. My dearly departed uncle was a crack shot and most of the Krauts… as he put it, never saw it coming..I asked my uncle how it felt to have killed hundreds of Germans and he smiled and said, “It was legal!” It was something that he was very proud of and recommended for the Congressional Medal of Honor…my uncle wanted those responsible for the slaughter at Wounded Knee in 1890 to have their Congressional Medals of Honor rescinded by the U.S. Congress but no chance of that these days…I suppose extremely dishonorable and murderous acts are still officially respected, protected, and conveniently overlooked in the name of Blood,Honor, and Country…what would be the difference…a spiderweb…sometimes???

  • Caitlin Leif

    This disgust me. Nobody in there right mind would do this to a homeless person. They have nothing left , so they took something that meant the world to them there lives , are you kidding? The snitch and all the men should be put on the death penalty, this is disgusting and juvenile.I hope they rot in jail.