From the front page of the B.A.R. - 3 October 2002
Optically scanned, proofread, and hyperlinked by Zeke Krahlin

Murder suspect talks to the BAR by Ed Walsh Accused murderer Jim McKinnon says he's the real victim. McKinnon, 37, is accused of murdering his friend, Gary Lee Ober, 55, and then leaving Ober's body to rot in the bathtub of Ober's apartment in the Glen Park neighborhood of San Francisco for sever­al weeks before it was dis­covered. But in an exclu­sive interview with the Bay Area Reporter, McK­innon said that he was forced to kill Ober to fend off a sexual assault, a claim that Ober's friends strongly dispute. "It was self-defense, that's all I am going to say. I was attacked while I was on the toi­let," said McKinnon last week from the San Francisco County Jail. When asked why he had to resort to killing a man nearly 20 years his senior in self-defense, McKinnon explained that because he was sick, he was much weaker and more vulnerable to Ober. "I had pneumonia and a temperature of 102-point-8 and I was on the toilet with my pants down around my ankles," the murder suspect said. "And he was an ex-veter­an of Vietnam so he was a trained killer. I never had any training. I took three karate classes. I signed up for a year and I took three classes and my Mom wound up paying 300 and some odd dollars for nothing. I was 11. I never liked it. I never liked the violence. I used to get beat up every day when I was a kid. I hate violence. I hate it with a passion. "He tried to sexally assault me," McKinnon insisted. McKinnon was arrested on Septem­ber 13. Three days earlier police found Ober's body in the bathtub of Ober's home. They were alerted by a neighbor who noticed a foul odor coming from Ober's apartment. Police said McKinnon told neighbors that he was watering Ober's plants while Ober was away on a cruise. Police say Ober was first noticed missing about a month before his body was found. McKinnon told the B.A.R. that he doesn't know when he killed Ober. McKinnon said he had bruises that were noticed by people at the Pendulum bar that are proof of the struggle he said he got in to defend himself. A Pendulum bartender, Frank Franco, told the B.A.R. that people there noticed the bruises. Franco said that McKinnon explained that he got the marks as a result of a fight he had with Ober. McKinnon didn't say that the fight resulted in Ober's death. Franco strongly disputes McKinnon's claim of self-defense. "That's bullshit. Bullshit," an angry Franco said. "I do not be­lieve it. He's a motherfucker and I'd gladly pull the switch." When told that McKinnon wanted Franco to leave $10 on his jail commissary books, Franco said the only thing he wanted to leave for McKinnon is a note to say that he wanted him executed. Franco knew both McKinnon and Ober for about a year and a half. Like Ober, he briefly let McK­innon live with him while McKin­non was down on his luck. "The cops told me it was just lucky it's not your murder we are investigating," Franco said. Franco said that Ober would­n't have attacked anyone. He said that Ober was vulnerable because he had been very sick because of a back problem. Franco said Ober's killing left him in a state of shock. "Not only was I shocked, but I was sick over this for over a week," he said. Franco said because of his ex­perience dealing with so many dif­ferent types of people, he considers himself a good judge of character, but he said he was never so com­pletely fooled by anyone. He said McKinnon destroyed his belief in his ability to make judgments about the character of others. People vs. peephole McKinnon told the B.A.R. that he lived with Ober for three days before he allegedly killed him. He said that Ober agreed to let him stay with him because he was homeless. He said they were friends, not boyfriends. "He was lonely and seemed like a really nice guy," said McKin­non, noting that he knew Ober for over a year. McKinnon said that although he has spent a long time in bars in the Castro and is attracted to men, he doesn't consider himself gay. "I'm not gay. I'm not bi. I'm a people person. And I love people. I don't like peepholes. Do you know the difference between a peephole and a people? A peep­hole, you can see right through them." When asked why he didn't go to the police immediately if he be­lieved he acted in self-defense, McKinnon responded: "You know what? I'm just a fucking human being and I got scared. And you know what? I'm not scared any­more. It doesn't matter what hap­pens to me. What matters is what happens to this planet if some­body doesn't do something; it's not going to be pretty. Revela­tions. Read it. It's already happen­ing, the plagues. Man against man. The East against the West. It's already there. "I want people to know what happened," said McKinnon. "I did nothing wrong. You understand that? The government does more wrong in five minutes than I've done in my entire life. They let Saddam Hussein get away with it 10 years ago, 11 years ago, 12 years ago, and now they let Osama bin Laden go." McKinnon didn't want to go into detail about his alleged strug­gle with Ober but he told the B.A.R. that he used no weapon. Police suspect that Ober may have been stabbed and are examining a knife for DNA evidence. "I don't know why anyone is talking about a knife for. I don't know nothing about no knife. I really don't. "I did not use any weapons at all. I was sitting on the damn toi­let," he added. Police say Ober's body was found sprinkled with baking soda, in an apparent attempt to mask the smell. 'When asked about that, McKinnon answered: "I'm not going to comment on that." McKinnon also declined to comment on an allegation that he abused an elderly man in his care. When asked about a report that he may have told another cus­tomer at the Pendulum while he was drunk that he "did a bad thing," McKinnon answered: "I don't know. If I was drunk, I was drunk. I can't remember and that's all I can say about that ... And you know 'I've done a bad thing' can be a lot of things, [like] I peed on the toilet seat. You know I've done a lot of bad things in my life like running out on my first wife, run­ning out on my second wife. Run­ning out on my first child, running out on my second child." McKinnon explained that he was married twice and each time walked on his wife. He said he has a son from his first wife in Cana­da. He said the boy is now 14, 15, or 16 years old. He said he has a 12- or 13-year-old daughter from his second wife in Florida. He said he's originally from Canada and moved to this country when he was 21 or 22. He said he has lived in the Bay Area for five years. After the September 11 terror­ist attacks, McKinnon said that he designed, produced, and sold T­shirts to raise money for 9/11 victims. He said he produced 72 shirts, 32 of which are still at the printers because he owes the printer $400. "That will show you the type of person I really am inside," he said. McKinnon said he hopes to spend his time in jail writing books. He said he has the first 10 pages written of his new novel. And he said he plans to write a book about his murder case. More evidence Last Thursday, September 26, a day after the interview was con­ducted, McKinnon phoned this reporter from jail to say that on orders from his attorney, he can no longer talk to the B.A.R, or any other media outlet. Since the interview, the B.A.R. has learned of more potentially damaging evidence against McK­in non. Franco told the B.A.R. that McKinnon "was suddenly flush with money" in the days after Ober disappeared. Franco said McKinnon bought rounds of drinks for customers and gave away and sold pain medication. In retrospect, Franco is convinced the drugs and money were Ober's. He noted that Ober had to take pain medication for his back. The drugs included Valium, OxyCon­tin, and morphine. The B.A.R. has learned that a backpack containing a loaded gun and Ober's checkbook was left in the Midnight Sun bar sometime in mid-August, during the time when Ober was missing. The backpack was eventually turned over to San Francisco Patrol Special Police of­ficer Jane Warner, who filed a re­port and turned it over to her su­periors. The backpack was shuffled off to SFPD's burglary detail. After reading Ober's name last week in newspaper stories, a Midnight Sun bartender remembered the name and alerted Warner to it. Warner in turn alerted SFPD's homicide In­spector Holly Pera. Pera told the B.A.R. that her office just received the backpack from the burglary detail and she wasn't sure yet how significant that find would be to their investi­gation. Meanwhile, Ober's next door neighbor and close friend Stephanie Henry has kept candles lit outside Ober's apartment door since his body was discovered. "I keep the candles lit, so his spirit will soar," Henry explained. "I loved him." Henry fondly remembers Ober's kind, thoughtful, and gen­erous spirit. She remembers the gifts he made for her nieces and nephews. Most of all, she remem­bers the time they spent together. She said they would sometimes keep each other's doors open and amuse themselves by referring to their apartments as the west or east wing, as if they lived in a mansion. Her friend's murder has left Henry sad, shaken, and feeling as if she constantly has to look over her shoulder. "No one deserves what hap­pened to him," she said. ----------------------------- Police are asking anyone with information to come forward, particularly anyone who may have seen McKinnon during the time Ober was missing. People can call the SFPD homicide department at (415) 553-1145. #

Click here to read a most important followup article on this matter, three years later (2005).