A True Story of Murder, Blackmail, and Real Estate Greed in 1979 Los Angeles 

"They huddled at the base of the stairs. Panting steam. Packing bad intentions. Above their heads, a patch of soft light glowed through the sliding-glass window outside the master bedroom of the two-story home where two people lay in bed. People oblivious to approaching invaders ..."

Late-seventies Los Angeles was rampant with shady characters, but all the go-getters at Space Matters saw was possibility. Richard Kasparov was handsome and charismatic; his younger associate, Jerry Schneiderman, brilliant and nerdy. When the pair hired a veteran contractor to oversee construction, the space planning firm they operated out of a hip mansion near LA’s Miracle Mile district appeared poised to transform the boundless skyline into their jackpot. Then the promising team

imploded, spilling treachery on the blueprints. Assassins, working in a murder-for-hire corporation, required a comical number of attempts to execute their target. Once they did, the surviving founder of Space Matters was thrown into a pressure cooker existence out of a Coen Brothers movie. Threatened for money he didn’t have, he donned a disguise, trying to outfox a glowering murderer, while asking if you can ever really know anyone in a town where blood soaks the land. 

Vroman’s bestseller

—”(An) engrossingly bizarre tale of a murder plot within Los Angeles real estate circles…Jacobs ably captures the seamy backdrop of 1970s Southern California via the strange saga of…(an assassination) improbably germinated…in an ill-fated partnership in an upstart space-planning firm.”…After numerous bungled attempts, which Jacobs plays for human and tension…gunmen succeeded…’I’ve killed before…and gotten away with it,’ the ringleader warns his next target. ‘And I’ll do it again…’An entertaining true-crime period piece built around a chillingly odd sociopathic villain.”—Kirkus Review

— “Jacobs The Darkest Glare lays out the wild, frankly-too-bizarre-to-summarize-accurately history of a real estate team that turned to contract executions in 1970s Los Angeles. All the quintessential Southern California noir strands are there: land use, building firms, business partnerships gone sour, entrepreneurs on the hustle, and a team of would-be criminals straight out of an Elmore Leonard side adventure. Jacobs handles it all with flair, telling a story full of over-the-top characters with skill and subtlety.”—CrimeReads

—  “Gripping noir nonfiction…(The) brigands are what make the book such a delicious treat…It’s like some macabre version of a Three Stooges act or a Looney Tunes episode…The characters are put through hell and back, with only a few fortunate enough to walk away unscathed…There’s a clear influence of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood…as (Jacobs) blends copious research and imagined conversations into each scene. After reading The Darkest Glare, you’ll be looking over your shoulder, wondering if there’s a figure lurking outside your window.”—Los Angeles Review of Books

— “This entertaining…true crime narrative…spotlights two ambitious L.A. real estate developers in the late 1970s.” After the pair hired a “rough-edged construction supervisor…what follows is both horrifying and hilarious, as (one of them) tries to organize an assassination-for-hire team…Though undoubtedly odd, this (story) still manages to fascinate.” — Publishers Weekly 

—“The Darkest Glare” is about more than crime. It’s about greater Los Angeles during a precarious time. Jacobs links together the West Side, the San Fernando Valley and the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles County, spilling over into the Inland Empire. “It was…a collision of three parts of Los Angeles, and that’s what really interested me,” says Jacobs.” Liz Ohanesian, Los Angeles Daily News (and chain)

—”An ex-member of a promising real estate development team turns to shady dealings, unbelievable shenanigans and murder for profit in “The Darkest Glare: A True Story of Murder, Blackmail, and Real Estate Greed in 1979 Los Angeles” by Chip Jacobs. If you’re a fan of true crime and L.A. noir, this one’s for you.”—Southern California News Group 

“If you are going to write a crime thriller, what are the essential ingredients? Well, how about a big helping of murder, mix in a generous portion of blackmail, spice everything up with a layer of greed, add a dollop or two of 1979 Los Angeles, and sprinkle in a shiny El Camino.(While (this book) reads like a grotesquely macabre fantasy it also has moments of absurd hilarity…Below the surface, this is a story of personal failure and hidden vulnerability.”—NPR-syndicate Life Elsewhere Radio 

—”If all the praise is to be believed, the author of the L.A. Times bestseller Arroyo— Jacobs’ first crack at historical fiction after producing an impressive array of non-fiction works — has another hit on his hands in the…soon-to-be-released The Darkest Glare.”—Pasadena Now

— “Jacobs’ chops are on brilliant display in The Darkest Glare, a delightfully off-kilter true-crime tale. The prose is intimate, darkly funny, and crisp…Jacobs’ ear for a good story is pitch perfect, and he tells it with all the smoggy pastel colors of post-noir LA. The Darkest Glare isn’t an old song in a new key, but an entirely new song about crime, fear, and a weird kind of redemption that could only happen in the general vicinity of Hollywood. Jacobs is a genuine writer, not a wannabe scribbler.” — Ron Franscell, bestselling author of The Darkest Night

— “In Chip Jacobs true-crime, The Darkest Glare we are whisked back to LA’s Kodachrome world of the Seventies. Through the eyes of the protagonist, Jerry, the “bright colors and greens of summer” quickly change to the real life black-and-whites of mayhem and murder. But, this is not just another Hollywood Whodunit. In the end we find it is really about one man’s search and struggle to find his own personal truths and redemption. Well written and highly recommended.” – Steve Hodel, bestselling author, Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder

— “Jacobs delivers a seductive tour of an L.A. life …A terrific book – I couldn’t put it down! — Stephen Jay Schwartz,  bestselling author of Boulevard

— “Chip Jacobs uses his boundless reporter’s energy and well-honed sense of Southern California to tell a gripping tale of serial mayhem and the curious life of Jerry Schneiderman. It’s reassuring to see the right writer was paying attention.” – David Willman, Los Angeles Times Pulitzer winning investigative reporter and author of The Mirage Man: Bruce Irvins, the Anthrax Attacks, and America’s Rush to War


They huddled at the base of the stairs, panting steam, packing bad intentions.

Above the invaders’ heads, soft light glowed through the sliding-glass window outside a master bedroom where two people lay in bed, oblivious to the approaching danger. With the rain pounding down from another heavy storm, they assumed they had all night to unwind, to puff weed, to do whatever they wanted, and then go at it until dawn. There was a romance to it on a night like tonight.

At the bottom of the stairs, the man here to interrupt that, the man personally supervising a job that his minions had bungled with comical frequency, whispered how this midnight operation was to unfold. Their movements needed to be cat-quick and meticulous, not so much as a cuticle left behind. The soggy evening, with the neighborhood toasty under mid-century roofs, was an advantage they dare not squander, especially after blowing so many others.

Everything rode on the bullet about to be fired from a vintage rifle mass-produced during World War II to kill Nazis. So much hinged on it striking its target to generate the seed money for a lucrative enterprise that Los Angeles had never seen before. But if the triggerman misfired, depriving the ringleader of not only that cash but his almost-reptilian hunger for revenge, he and his accomplice understood the next bullets might well have their names written on them.

The trio crept up the flight, past a potted fern, toward the deck overlooking a backyard pool sloshing chlorine whitecaps in the deluge. They arranged themselves into positions next, just as they’d rehearsed, squatting on opposite edges of the window to evaluate the scene inside the fishbowl-lit room. And what, they must’ve concluded, a glorious sight it was. The businessman they’d been hunting for months was mere feet away, reclined sideways on his queen-size bed, listening to a pretty woman in a male pajama-top reading something.

The would-be assassins, who’d driven in from points east, were different breeds united by a common purpose. The designated shooter was a diminutive, helmet-haired character salivating to use the high-powered rifle he’d acquired in a crafty haggle. His wingman was a thin, lyrically named crook without his cohorts’ felony pedigrees. Both were tripping on heroin when Pat pressed the launch button on the job, and they’d tried their best to sober before he picked them up. Coffee, a frigid shower: the last thing they intended to do was quibble over timing with someone whose buzzard-y face was the last thing a handful of unfortunate folks ever saw.

Anyone confused about what “Pat” was capable of doing should interview their ex-associate, the one who’d developed misgivings after accepting this contract and fled town. Welching on that promise had visited terror on his family for months, and nearly resulted in his own skull being rearranged with a .357-Magnum on a Haight Ashbury sidewalk. Another person who’d infuriated Pat was unable to vocalize any warnings. He’d gone from sipping cocktails on a fall afternoon to being set ablaze in the scrubland outside LA. Pat’s management philosophy about his underlings completing their assignments was absolute. He’d tolerate no job-suggestion boxes, only compliance.

Now he crouched over his marksman’s shoulder, eyes glazed, mouth ajar, waiting for the muzzle flash that he’d been fantasizing about since last year. Then, ding! It happened again, another mishap in an endless stream of them. Sometimes it felt like a clown show This time was different. Pat was seconds from giving the signal when movement they hadn’t anticipated left them frozen on the patio, petrified to move.

The man they were after, a college-educated, real estate entrepreneur who’d employed Pat in a manipulative partnership, must’ve heeded the beep of a Darwinian radar. Perhaps, he and his company might not be as alone as they figured. Whether it’d been the rustling of feet, a squeaky plank, or a less explicable case of the heebie-jeebies, he appeared to sense there was something amiss. That’s why he lifted his seemingly drowsy head off his snuggly-looking comforter, twisting it the opposite direction of the woman up against his headboard. For a beat, he stared directly at them, behind the window representing the single barrier between him and his supposed final gasps of air.

It was an expression that asked, hey, is someone out there?

Pat inside must’ve cringed and cursed, questioning if he should’ve toted along a lucky rabbit’s foot. He also had a crisis brewing. If that window’s glare didn’t blind the marked-man from spotting what was happening, from realizing what was lurking beneath those rainy eaves, things were about to get bloody for everyone.

Copyright Chip Jacobs; all rights reserved.

Interesting Documents … 

— L.A. County District Attorney Memo about Protecting Informant From the First Hitman-Turned Mastermind in Prison (November 1981) – Page 1Page 2

— L.A. County District Attorney Memo to Give Mastermind the Death Penalty as a Special Circumstance Murder (August 1979)

— Felony Complaint Post-Murder of the Two Principals

Valley News Story from March 28, 1979

— Newspaper Story on the First Murder that Ended with a Wrongful Acquittal  (from Inland Empire paper; September 23, 1977)