Those Who Wander

‘Those Who Wander’ begins with a grisly murder, but expands into the lives of America’s street kids

On Oct. 14, 2015, three “drifters” accused of shooting dead 23-year-old Audrey Carey in Golden Gate Park and later 63-year-old Steve Carter in Marin marched their way into a Marin County courtroom. Morrison Haze Lampley, Sean Michael Angold, and Lila Scott Alligood — all homeless and under the age of 25 — faced a judge with their heads shaven and their waists shackled. 

The killings, for which these three young people were eventually convicted, sent chills through the Bay Area. 

“Lampley, whose shaved head made visible his Roman numeral ‘13’ tattoo … glanced briefly at Alligood, whom he revealed on Facebook he was in love with, but otherwise sat slumped for the majority of the short proceeding, and at one point yawned,” Vivian Ho, then a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote in an article that day.

This was likely the first time Ho had seen these three in the flesh. And, at that moment, little did she know she would leave her crime reporter post at the Chronicle three years later to write a book about them — or that she’d spend hours face-to-face with Lampley, the purported “ringleader” of the crimes, looking for “remorse” — and not finding any at all. 

That book, Those Who Wander: America’s Lost Street Kids, was released earlier this month, and Ho, now a reporter for the Guardian‘s Oakland bureau, made an appearance at Manny’s at 16th and Valencia Tuesday night to talk about it — and, at times, how the difficult subject matter affected her.

“I was a bummer for a while,” she said. 

While the book spends many pages exploring the convicted murderers’ painful backgrounds and searching for answers to what drove the three to kill, it more importantly explores an oft-overlooked homeless population: San Francisco’s, and America’s, so-called “street kids.” 

Author Vivian Ho. Photo by Gabrielle Canon.

You’ve seen them: They crowd the sidewalk in the Upper Haight, begging for money, pot and beer. They sometimes emerge from the bushes at Golden Gate Park, dirty and disheveled, with big backpacks and sometimes dogs in tow. And, as Ho writes, following the 2015 slayings, the street kids “became scapegoats for law-abiding citizens to fear the most.” 

“There’s no excuse for murder,” Ho said Tuesday night at Manny’s. “But we’re looking at these murders, at the lives of these kids, as a way to hopefully make sure this never happens again.” 

Through numerous interviews with street kids from San Diego’s Ocean Beach to Tonto National Forest in Arizona, Ho discovered that, while housed citizens may dismiss the youths as voluntarily homeless, more often than not they have fled extremely traumatic home situations, only to find more trauma on the road. 

There was Momo, a street kid in Santa Rosa, who told Ho that a group of unknown perpetrators held her prisoner for “three to six months,” continually drugging and raping her. There was 16-year-old Shay in San Diego, who hit the road with his 41-year-old mother, Edie, who first experienced homelessness at 19. And there was Christian Garmisa-Calinsky, who escaped an abusive mother as a child, lived as a street dweller for decades, but went on to found a nonprofit that helps street kids find a better path. 

And, of course, there was Lampley — who reportedly first consumed LSD as a young child, claimed he was molested by his father, and lived a life of drugs, sex and violence until he committed the murders. 

Although Those Who Wander provides an intimate look at the oft-misunderstood culture of street kids, their trauma, and the compassion they sometimes have to forfeit for survival, a tension persists throughout: What drove three specific street kids — Lampley, Angold, and Alligood — to murder? What separates them from the rest? 

“Stick with me here — this is kind of a doozy,” Ho told her audience. She said the real question is not how different Lampley et al. are from other street kids. Rather, the question is: “How different is he from us?”  

Said Ho: “Because the fact is, if any of us experienced a high level of trauma, have been thrown out on the streets, forced to survive by our wits and sleep very little, and then numb the pain with a haze of drugs and alcohol and pot — if that was our life, what would we be pushed to do?”   

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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  1. Homeless people are not typically violent, they are rather more likely to be victim of a violent crime. So I hope we can refrain from grouping all homeless people into that basket. Furthermore, it is true that abused people go on to abuse. We don’t commonly make this excuse for every violent act committed though. And none of these people were children. They are all adults, I’ve never seen a crime committed by adults refer to the adults as children. Even worse, it is sickening to see people have the urge to sympathize. I am a huge advocate and incredibly passionate about re-entry services and changing the criminal justice system and having preventative measures in communities and society to stop violence before it is committed. Jeffrey Dhamer led a tragic life I mean violent offenders have a tragedy aspect to the narration of what they did. Evil doesn’t exist the way we think it does because psychology can explain much if these phenomena. But it is sickening to pick and choose who to write about and provide sympathy, especially when they did not show remorse until it seemed it would benefit them (in the court room). They weren’t doing what they had to do to survive. They bought cigarettes after slaying and robbing a man. This is NOT common behavior or acts of people living homeless- many of whom ARE youth who escaped violence at home. We need to use this story to develop better child protection services that are not delayed and more services for youth who are living homeless so they don’t do violent acts as teens or adults (18 is an adult). This book seems offensive ti the families. I saw another that was titled “scapegoating troubled youth” which is insane because they were all adults, we already know that abused people go on to abuse (and society doesnt usually have the urge to nurture their soul post violent act), and they treated their own murderous acts as casual acts. They didn’t do these acts for survival, they did it out of a general attitude toward other people. If you believe something is amiss in their sentencing, then advocate for healthier communities and better unity resources to prevent child abuse.this book and the article I referenced makes the two victims seem like props in the story. They took human life and almost a pet’s life to buy cigarettes, and one of the victims was also in the SAME age group as the murders and they hung out with her, befriending her. And then killed her. If you made friends with a person with a troubled past, they befriend you, and then murder you after gaining your trust, would you really think first about the troubled past they experienced? Or would you focus on how they plotted to murder you, a crime that most human beings could not follow through with. Many murders are committed out of rage and are not planned, planning is that extra step that makes it even more heinous. They knew the brutal nature of it and went through with it.

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  2. If these people are pushed to actions like murder by their circumstances, then it is a pretty stupid and dangerous thing to let them wander the streets and parks of our city.

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      1. Labor camps sounds perfect — get some discipline and exercise, appreciate nature, get off the drugs. Boot camps teach self-control, responsibility, and respect for authority, and paired with therapeutic counseling to help them with the past abuses, it could really turn their lives around. Brilliant idea!

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      2. I’d start with using some of our $12 Billion city budget to ensure 100% shelter availability — combined with a complete ban on camping/sleeping on the streets or in parks. In other words, if you want help, we’ll help you. If you want to drift, then drift elsewhere.

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