City of Berkeley offers reward to find ‘Cowboy’ killer

Police are offering a reward for information about the homicide of Mark Stannard, aka “Cowboy.” He was often seen around northwest Berkeley with a white pitbull. Source: Berkeley Police Department

Police are offering a reward for information about the homicide of Mark Stannard, aka “Cowboy.” He was often seen around northwest Berkeley with a white pitbull. Source: Berkeley Police Department

Authorities have announced Berkeley’s fifth homicide of the year, a longtime homeless community member who lived in northwest Berkeley and went by the name “Cowboy.”

On Thursday morning, the Berkeley Police Department reported the death of Mark Stannard, 64. His body was found in early October, but the case was not immediately determined to be a homicide.

Stannard was a familiar face around the neighborhood, said officer Jennifer Coats, police spokeswoman. Coats recalled seeing him on the streets of northwest Berkeley since the 90s, always walking with a white pitbull dog.

“He was homeless but he has been in Berkeley for years,” she said.

The city of Berkeley is offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who killed Stannard. Another $2,000 may also be available to tipsters, via Bay Area Crime Stoppers. (Scroll down for details.)

Stannard’s body was found in early October, but his injuries were not immediately apparent to authorities, said Coats.

“He may have been out there for some time,” she said. “The state of his body didn’t make it easy.”

Police received a call Oct. 7 at about 5:50 p.m. from someone reporting a man lying in the bushes in the 800 block of Harrison Street, said Coats, near the Berkeley Skate Park.

When police went to investigate, they found Stannard’s body. During the autopsy, the coroner’s office found signs of aggravated assault, said Coats, leading police to investigate the death as a homicide.

Authorities have declined to release additional information about Stannard’s injuries, because that level of detail “may be only known to the suspect,” she said.

Coats said she didn’t know exactly when the case had been reclassified as a homicide, but that police hope people in the community may be able to provide important information about the case.

Berkeley had its fourth homicide of the year in early December when Pam Mullins was shot and killed while riding her bicycle on Sacramento Street. The city of Berkeley has also offered a $15,000 reward to find her killer. The reward was announced Thursday afternoon.

In addition to Mullins, Kenneth Warren was shot dead in January near his workplace on the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Emerson Street. In February, Peter Cukor was bludgeoned to death outside his home on Park Gate in the Berkeley hills. In March, Devin Lee Whitmore was shot in the 2800 block of Sacramento.

In 2011, there was only one homicide, Toby Eagle, in Berkeley.

The Berkeley Police Department asks anyone with information about these cases to call the Homicide Detail at 510-981-5741, or the non-emergency number at 510-981-5900. Callers may remain anonymous. The city of Berkeley is a member of the Bay Area Crime Stoppers (BACS) organization; callers with information may call BACS at 800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers offers an additional reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case.

Related:
Few clues in Berkeley’s fourth homicide of 2012 [12.06.12]
Sacramento Street neighbors reel from latest shooting [12.05.12]
Family of murder victim Cukor files suit against Berkeley [11.15.12]
Sacramento Street shooting victim dies, arrest made [03.30.12]
$17,000 reward for information about Warren murder [01.31.12]
Breaking: Man shot and killed in south Berkeley [01.26.12]

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  • http://stefanco.com Stefan Lasiewski

    “Berkeley had its fourth homicide of the year in early December when Pam Mullins
    was shot and killed while riding her bicycle on Sacramento Street. The
    city of Berkeley has also offered a $15,000 reward to find her killer.
    The reward was announced Thursday afternoon.”

    Any info on that, other then the reward was announced? Did they catch anyone?

  • The Sharkey

    I don’t understand the timeline in this story.

    The Berkeley Police Department reported the death of Mark Stannard, 64, on Thursday morning.

    Stannard’s body was found in early October, but his injuries were not immediately apparent to authorities, said Coats.

    So was he found on Thursday (today) or in October?
    Or did BPD find his body in October but not bother to report the death until today?

  • emraguso

    They reported it on Thursday morning. He was found in October.

  • emraguso

    We plan to have an update about it tomorrow.

  • 4Eenie

    The question still remains. Why did they not report the death until Thursday morning? Or did they change the status of the already-reported death to homicide on Thursday?

  • The Sharkey

    I’m guessing the latter.

  • emraguso

    “Stannard’s body was found in early October, but his injuries were not immediately apparent to authorities, said Coats.”
    “During the autopsy, the coroner’s office found signs of aggravated assault, said Coats, leading police to investigate the death as a homicide.”

    That said — yes, we too would have liked to have been alerted to this death as soon it was determined to be suspicious, but it sounds like that is not what happened.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    anybody consider it might have been the pit bull that killed him?

  • Jessy

    I am so saddened to learn about Cowboy’s death, as we often saw him and his white dog Rudolfo walking on San Pablo Avenue and Gilman; we would sometimes offer them food. There was obvious love and companionship between them. Does anyone know what happened to the dog, who was extremely affectionate and loving?

  • guest

    And you think this is funny?

  • Tizzielish

    And if Stannard’s body was found in October, then Stannard’s murder was the fourth homicide of 2012 in Berkeley and Mullins’ murder was #5. Right? It feels a little bit disrespectful to report Mullins was the 4th — she was the 5th murder this year. Mr. Stannard, or Cowboy, was the 4th murder victim in Berkeley. Sorry if this seems to querrelous.

  • Tizzielish

    I am surprised there is not more concern by regular commentators that the city didn’t announce their conclusion that Cowboy was murdered for more than two months. What? Don’t homeless humans count?!! Where’s the outrage?

  • guest

    BPD are not the Keystone Kops.

  • http://francesdinkelspiel.com/ Frances Dinkelspiel

    Tizzleish

    The body apparently was decayed and it took time to determine there was foul play.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    Not meant to be funny I’m very serious…how many times have you heard about a “friendly family dog” (pit bull) turn on the master or other family member.

  • http://twitter.com/captfuzzbucket CaptFuzz

    Do you seriously think BPD would confuse a fatal dog mauling with a homicide? That’s just all kinds of stupid. Save the internet and stop posting. Otherwise the world might end.

  • dynamo56

    Calm down please. The poor man’s body was in bad condition. Signs of assault were noticed during the autopsy phase, not when the body was immediately found. Cowbay may have been in a fight with someone prior to his death, so even after the autopsy more investigation was likely needed to determine if was a homicide. You may not know this, but in many places anyone over 40 or dying of unexplained reasons would not even get an autopsy unless they had private family willing to pay for it. Even hospital deaths, many elder deaths etc are woefully under investigated.

    That Berkeley conducted an autopsy in the first place is commendable. Add to this that the autopsy was competently done (see ProPublica’s investigation in this area if you can stomach it) and that the crime was resourced and investigated as a homicide and then appropriately classified (see NY with underclassification issues) and a reward issued for information. All this is not outrageous conduct, it is commendable conduct.

    Please do not attempt to capitalize on this death to be “outraged” at Berkeley staff actions unless you become a bit more informed. It is pathetic.

  • Steven Donaldson

    I live up off Gilman and Cornell and have seen him for years meandering up Gilman with his grocery cart and dogs. Sad to see him go. But life on the streets is sadly unpredictable and violent.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    thanks for the personal attack i will be sure to return the favor…

  • Lisa

    I feed a few feral cats in that part of Berkeley every night and occasionally gave Mr. Stannard food and water for both himself and Bruno, his dog. He was always appreciative, though not a chatty fellow. The dog, Bruno, was a real sweetie, I wonder what happened to him.

  • chris

    That was a seriously stupid comment regarding his dog.

  • Neighbor

    Have some respect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1136648925 Tim Wood

    Believe I ran across him in 1978 living in his camper among some others at an abandoned house in the Santa Cruz mountains, when I was similarly situated. He got drunk most days. I remember when he took on a project to “simplify” the wiring in his truck, removing large pieces of it and leaving the lights, wipers and some other things inoperable. Generous and nice to hang with, though. We all had a nice dinner party in his truck once; I made spaghetti & sauce from scratch. RIP, Cowboy.

  • Guest

    I wouldn’t rule it out. half of all pit pull attacks are on their owners :(

  • Lisa

    Jessy – I stopped by Berkeley ACC today and asked about the dog – sadly, she was euthanized. She came into the shelter in pretty good shape, but had a really bad time adapting to that environment. She was there for quite a few weeks, but the longer she was there, the more agitated she became. It’s really too bad – if the community had known I think more effort would have been made to find her a suitable home, and to help her adapt. She was not that old – 6 or 7.

  • emraguso

    Thank you for this update. That’s sad to hear.