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 in 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.” The mastermind “recruited hapless underworld figures for (his) ambitious…(payback) scheme…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—with you’…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

— “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

CHAPTER ONE: A DECK FOR ALL SEASONS 

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 while rain from another heavy storm pounded down. People who assumed they had all the time in the world to get high and then naked.The ringleader—here to supervise the task that his minions had bungled with almost comical frequency—whispered how the 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.

Everything rode on the bullet scheduled to fly from the barrel of a vintage rifle originally mass-produced to kill Nazis. So much hinged on a single projectile needed to free up the spoils in the kickoff of a lucrative enterprise that Los Angeles had never seen before. If the designated shooter misfired, and his chief’s brackish vengeance went un-expunged, beware. The next bullet might have the assassin’s name emblazoned on it.

Whoever said the San Fernando Valley was dishwater dull?

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 position next, just as they’d rehearsed, squatting on the opposite edges of the window to evaluate the scene inside the fishbowl-lit room. What a glorious sight it was! The fellow they’d been hunting for months was mere feet away, reclined sideways on his queen-size bed, listening to a cute woman in a male pajama-top reading.

The killers who’d driven in from points east were different breeds united by a common purpose. The triggerman was a diminutive, helmet-haired character salivating to use the big gun he’d acquired in a crafty haggle. His wingman was a thin, lyrically named crook without his cohorts’ felony notches. Both were atop heroin dragons when tonight’s launch button was pressed, but they’d made emergency landings to attempt sobering up in a snap. Coffee. A frigid shower. The last thing they intended to do was quibble over timing with a boss whose buzzard-y face was the final visage a handful of unfortunate sorts ever saw.

Anyone fuzzy 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 his promise had visited terror on his family and nearly resulted in his own skull being rearranged with a .357-Magnum on a San Francisco sidewalk. Someone else 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 to rubberneck.

Ding!

What better timing for another in a series of what-now hiccups to frustrate them again like klutzes in a clown show? He’d been seconds from flashing the signal. The new message: how fickle opportunity can be.

The target, a college boy, real estate entrepreneur who once employed him in a manipulative partnership, must’ve heeded the beep of a Darwinian radar; must’ve attuned to an inner frequency that he and his woman might not be as alone as they figured. The rustling of feet; a squeaky plank; heebie-jeebies that foreign eyes were watching them: whatever his sixth sense detected was worth investigating.

The man they’d come to obliterate lifted his drowsy head off his snuggly comforter, twisting it the opposite direction of the blonde with him. Next, he did something nobody here had anticipated in their elaborate preparations: he stared directly at them, behind the window representing the single barrier between him and his supposed last gasps of air.

Hey, was someone out there?

From his recesses, Pat cringed and cursed, fit to be tied, questioning if he should’ve toted along a lucky rabbit’s foot. How gruesome things would get for prey and predators alike, he knew, if that window’s glare didn’t thwart his quarry from seeing the truth.

From realizing what lurked beneath his dripping eaves.

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)