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Mark Richards (1953–) is a convicted murderer serving life without parole in California State Prison, Solano at Vacaville, California. He prefers to be known as "Captain" Richards, although he has never held the rank of US Navy Captain. After graduating from high school in 1972, he spent four years at Dominican College in San Rafael. He has spun multiple bizarre yarns about his service in the so-called "Secret Space Program" battling alien forces, in addition to his imaginary service in the US Navy.
The victim was 36 year-old Richard Baldwin,a friend of Richards and the owner of a vintage-auto restoration shop in San Rafael. The date was 6 July 1982. The motive was financial gain, and the means was blunt trauma. Richards' accomplices were Crossan David Hoover and a youth named Andrew, both employees of Richards' home remodelling business, which was nearly bankrupt at the time.
At the time of the murder, Richards, Hoover and Andrew were remodeling Baldwin's home. Richards and Hoover had lured their victim to the auto shop on the pretext of looking at his inventory of classic cars. When Richards scratched his head as a prearranged signal, Hoover slugged Baldwin on the head with a baseball bat and hit him three more times after he fell; he then stabbed him with a knife and a screwdriver. They then returned to the victim's home and stole money and credit cards. They used money from the crime to buy a boat. Together with "Andrew", they wrapped the body in a plastic tarpaulin and dumped it in San Pablo Bay. The body was found by a tugboat operator.
Police were led to the three perps by Hoover's loose talk. Richards denied any involvement but his alibi was not convincing, his fingerprints were on one of the murder weapons, and some of Baldwin's property was found in Richards' home. Richards used Baldwin's credit cards and checks to go on a spending spree after the crime. He was found guilty of first-degree murder, the jury deliberating for four days. The jury also found that "special circumstances" (that the murder involved a hired assassin and was motivated by financial gain and a burglary plan) were established, and Richards was sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Hoover unsuccessfully pleaded insanity and was sentenced to 26 years to life in November 1984. The Board of Parole Hearings granted parole on September 25, 2018 (pending gubernatorial review).
The "Pendragon Plot"
Investigation by a journalist from the Marin Independent Journal revealed a dimension to the murder that was literally incredible. The writer, Erik Ingram, reported that behind the Baldwin murder "may be a secret organization, called Pendragon, that appeared to be planning an armed takeover of Marin." Ingram reported that police detectives had retrieved from Richards' home maps, aerial photographs of Marin County, plans for a laser-gun, instructions for the construction of machine-guns, and "notebooks containing references to a new form of government." He wrote that behind the Baldwin murder "may be a secret organization, called Pendragon, that appeared to be planning an armed takeover of Marin."
In the weeks that followed, a number of witnesses came forward with stories indicating that the Pendragon group in fact existed. Crossie Hoover told investigators that one of the inducements to the murder was Richards' promise to appoint him Duke of Angel's Island. It appears that Richards fantasized about converting Marin County into a version of King Arthur's Camelot, with himself as King. He allegedly promoted plans in meetings with his workers to take over Marin County by destroying the Golden Gate and Richmond-San Rafael bridges and placing a laser gun on top of Mount Tamalpais. Carl Shapiro, a San Anselmo attorney representing Richards, asserted that the documents found by the police were research materials for a science-fiction book (Imperial Marin) that Richards was writing. The prosecution countered that regardless of Richards's writing, he used the Pendragon material to manipulate Hoover into committing the murder.
The Camelot interviews
Starting in November 2013, Richards became a major source for conspiracy theorist Kerry Cassidy. On that date Cassidy conducted a 1h 18m video interview at the prison in Vacaville. Cassidy regards Richards as an important whistleblower exposing the "Secret Space Program." She has said that he was framed for the Baldwin murder, and that he is imprisoned by the Illuminati-Draco run planetary government.[note 1] At the time of writing Cassidy says she has conducted nine interviews with Richards, for an aggregate time over 14 hours. Since recording devices are not allowed in the prison, the normal format of these videos is Cassidy speaking to camera recalling what was said immediately after her meeting with the convict.
Much of the material consists of tales of personal heroism, as Richards commands exotic space battleships fighting and defeating aliens. He commanded an Orion battleship at the asteroid Vesta in August 1979. Soon after that, he led an attack against aliens to reclaim a secret base at Dulce, New Mexico. The aliens had violated a treaty and abducted humans for experimentation. He claims that he was on active dutyat the age of 13, with a high security clearance. After graduating from high school, Richards said he became an Army officer flying helicopters in Vietnam . During this period, Richards was a student at Dominican College. Neither Cassidy or Richards have provided documentation to support his claims.
- Richard v. Superior Court. Appellate writ filed by Richards to dismiss special circumstances, August 22, 1983.
- Full set of Project Camelot interviews\
- The Story of 'Captain' Mark Richards. A look at Richards and various claims made about his case. Replies to articles posted by Kerry Cassidy, along with links and source material.
- Richard Baldwin:A Murder in Camelot. A documentary being produced by a Kevin Moore with additional primary source material and correspondence with Kerry Cassidy.
- On YouTube, Cassidy wrote "Navy Captain Mark Richards was an officer involved in the Dulce Battle as well as very active in the Secret Space Program and U.S. Space Command for many years prior to his being arrested and convicted of a murder he did not commit. This is a classic case of the government framing someone who they feel may be turning against them from within the military."
- CDCR Inmate locator Richards, Mark: CDCR number C89732: Sentence LWOP
- Murderpedia — Crossan David Hoover Jnr.
- Project Camelot; YouTube November 2013
- Project Camelot blog, 26 September 2018
- The Story of Captain Mark Richards: From Pendragon to the Secret Space Program — SkyMatters, rev 12/03/18