By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Like many of the buildings abandoned after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the former Santa Monica West Mental Health Services building was a perfect shelter for homeless drifters. Santa Monica’s strict rent-control regulations and housing policies made it difficult to tear down the battered structures, and the homeless found ways to slip through fences and enter through broken windows or fire escapes, sometimes even boring holes through exterior walls.
Life in these buildings is treacherous, and order is imposed by self-styled "squat Nazis." At the Euclid squat, the role was seized by Glen Mason and his close friend Jason Yoakum, known on the streets as Mad Dog. "We were the kings of the lair," Yoakum testified during Mason’s trial. "We made the rules, and no one would rule over us."
As the Euclid squat Nazis (they also controlled a nearby squat on Idaho Street), Mason and Yoakum picked who had access — the password was "Oi," a common punk expression — and kept the building safe from police raids, making sure squatters entered early in the morning or late at night to escape detection by the neighbors.
Mason turned the mental-health facility into a place of worship, Yoakum testified in court. He attempted to communicate with Satan by placing his forehead on a pentagram painted on a wall with the blood of a pigeon he’d decapitated and crucified.
"He Tased it to death [with a stun gun] until the eyes were popped out, then cut the head with a machete," Yoakum said. "He crucified it on a wall . . . and had the head hanging on the other wall.
"A regular drawn pentagram is a symbol," Yoakum explained in his testimony. "The one he drew in blood is more a channel. It’s like a telephone. He would sit there and put his head to it and chant . . . He was mumbling or chanting or praying, talking to his god, Satan."
Mason also would hang a crucifix upside down, Yoakum testified, and char it with the flames from a burner as the other squatters looked on. Once, he hung a rabbit up, spray painting it and setting it on fire while it was still alive. Sometimes he retreated into a small closet where he worshipped in private, speaking in strange tongues.
"He believed in the full satanic belief that Satan was the supreme being above all," Yoakum said. "The body meant nothing. He wanted the soul. If he got the soul, it was a brownie point for Satan. It made him stronger."
Shevawn’s relationship with Mason was a rocky one. "They would break up, they would just always be breaking up," Tanya said. "The littlest thing would make them break up." The relationship soon became a battle of wills between the headstrong girl and the controlling drifter. "He knew how to push Shevawn’s buttons, and that’s what he did."
Several months before Shevawn’s murder, Mason left for Tucson, Arizona, where, according to trial testimony, he lived with a girlfriend, Jessica Barry, in a motel, taking speed and hanging out in the "Manson tunnels" that run under the city.
Life without Mason was good for Shevawn. Her spirits seemed to lift. "Those were the happiest times," her friend Tanya recalled. "She was carefree when [Mason] wasn’t around. Everybody was pretty sure he would never show up."
But the carefree days didn’t last. After police arrested Barry for running away and took her to a lock-down facility in Utah, Mason returned by Greyhound bus to Santa Monica to wait for her release. He called Shevawn from a pay phone and said he was coming for her. Shevawn called Jessica’s mother, Stephanie Barry.
"She was afraid. Her voice was shaking," Barry testified. "She asked me, ‘What does he want from me? Why is he coming back for me?’"
Mason, however, seemed to return a changed man. He had shed his detached manner and seemed downright friendly. "He came back kissing everybody’s ass," Tanya said. "He gave me a hug. We came to the conclusion people like [Mason] don’t change. We knew it wasn’t a miracle from God."
After his return, Mason grew suspicious of Shevawn, whom he considered a "loudmouth" who "gossiped" too much, Yoakum testified. "She wasn’t allowed to know anything about him," Yoakum said. "They were dating and something happened and they broke up . . . He said he wanted to kill her. I didn’t take him literally." Mason, Yoakum said, had a "hit list" consisting of Shevawn, Candace and her friend, Charles — three people he accused of snitching on him.
Shevawn was growing increasingly scared, her friends said, sometimes sleeping with a weapon by her side. "There were nights when she would call me and say, ‘Please stay with me, he’s going to kill me,’" Kim said. "I had a knife; she had a sword, a samurai thing."
The tension escalated one day when Mason showed up at Shevawn’s home. "He had threatened to hurt her dog, Misery," Tanya recalled in an interview. "We could sense the tension in the room. Three girls sitting with a weapon and the dog running around." Next door to Shevawn’s house was a rabbit hutch. Mason "picked up one of the rabbits, threw it on the cement, and it died," Kim said. "He threw another one in a bush." The girls talked about going to the police. "She was petrified of him, yet she loved him," Kim said. "She did think that she could change him. If she loved you, she would find any possible way to find good in you."