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This Date In Lower Haight Criminal History

This Date In Lower Haight Criminal History
Haight east from Steiner, 1906 / California Historical Society
By Andrew Dudley - Published on October 29, 2014.
As Halloween approaches, we've got a morbid tale of a true crime most foul, unfolding exactly 97 years ago right here in the Lower Haight. 

The following is from an account in the San Francisco Chronicle. Picture it: Haight Street, October 29, 1917.  

Sotero Zabala, a 40-year-old Mexican immigrant, is closing up his tamale shop at 575 Haight Street, where Idle Hand Tattoo is located today.  It's just after midnight.

Moments later, Abraham Stein, a neighbor at 569 Haight, is startled to hear the sound of a man screaming. It's coming from the tamale restaurant. Abraham runs next door to find an injured Sotero in the shop's kitchen, his shirt torn, bleeding from the neck, with money scattered on the floor. Two men stand near him.

"Who did this?" Abraham asks somewhat obtusely. 

"Those two men!" Sotero mutters unnecessarily.

The two men flee before they can be apprehended.  Meanwhile, Sotero languishes, wounded, his jugular vein severed by a small dagger which lies nearby. He dies a few minutes later.

It was rumored that Sotero kept a stash of money under the kitchen table, but police were unable to find that stash. They did find $104 dollars in Sotero's pockets, and a felt hat with the initials "S. S." at the murder scene, apparently left behind by one of the assailants.

As far as we can tell, the case was never solved, leaving an unsolved murder—one of many— to haunt our fair neighborhood.