Beyond Recognition 

Mills College undergrad murdered in Manhattan, mean girls remorseless, bicycle bandits poach purses, and Oaklanders talk mayoral recall.

She left Oakland, but violent crime followed her. Decomposed, beaten beyond recognition, the body of 21-year-old Boitumelo "Tumi" McCallum — who attended Mills College last year — was found on August 5 wrapped in a sheet between a wall and a bloody, condom-wrapper- and bottle-strewn bed in a Manhattan apartment owned by her mother, NYU professor and anti-apartheid activist Teboho Moja, who was visiting her native South Africa at the time but has returned, inconsolable. McCallum's boyfriend — 23-year-old (formerly) small-time crook and occasional security guard Michael Cordero — has confessed to punching her in the face, crushing her nose, and strangling her because he feared she was leaving him. Cordero's sister told reporters: "She was his everything." Well, not quite; he still has the rest of his life and she's not in it. Cops on his trail, Cordero slit his wrists August 7 and ran trailing blood into the Upper West Side's poignantly named Western Beef supermarket, where he was arrested.

At a MySpace page last updated in 2006, South African-born McCallum calls herself a bisexual Michael Jackson fan whose favorite movie is The Constant Gardener. A promoter for the Berkeley-based concert-management outfit Angel Magik Entertainment, which organizes Caribbean music shows, McCallum was also motivated by a Mills ethnic-studies course, "Race, Gender, and the Criminal Justice System" — taught by Professor Julia Sudbury, author of Global Lockdown: Race, Gender, And The Prison-Industrial Complex — to intern at the Oakland-based antiprison nonprofit Justice Now. According to the group's Web site: "We believe that prisons and policing are not making our communities safe and whole but that, in fact, the current system severely damages the people it imprisons and the communities most affected by it. We promote alternatives to policing and prisons and challenge the prison industrial complex in all its forms." As it stands, McCallum's killer may never get the benefit of such alternatives.

Girl trouble: It's sad that the juvenile-justice system "has no place for violent girls," says Alameda County deputy DA Ursula Jones-Dixon. Doubly sad, she adds, "because girls are getting so violent." On August 27 she'll be in court where a gang of four, aged thirteen to sixteen, will be sentenced for a string of at least four robberies in Oakland and Hayward. They were arrested June 26 after a police officer, with the help of a witness, found them on East 22nd Street in a Honda Civic that had been stolen four days earlier. Inside was a purse and a bag of groceries (e.g., wine and potato chips) belonging to one victim, a 71-year-old woman whom they had pepper-sprayed and pummeled. The bad girls went after victims they suspected didn't speak English, thus were less likely to supply detailed descriptions — "They're smart enough to know who to choose," Jones-Dixon says. Motive? Robbery sounded interesting. "They hear a lot about it from the boys. It was a matter of, 'We heard about it and we wanted to try it.' ... It wasn't as if they were breaking down crying or were very upset about it." She'd feel less shocked if they'd said they desperately needed cash. But no: "It's a new generation." Two of the girls are sisters. According to early reports, the sixteen-year-old's sole stated concern was that, thanks to the arrest, her dad might not buy her a car for her birthday as promised. In juvenile hall since being nabbed, all four have requested plea-bargains.

Bonnie busted, Clyde at large: After seizing a woman's purse at gunpoint on the 1400 block of Vine Street in Berkeley the afternoon of August 1, a seventeen-year-old Oakland couple leaped onto a waiting bike. He pedaled; she rode the handlebars as in a vintage Valentine. Well, except that he was wearing an oversize T depicting horror-film doll Chucky with a knife, diamonds, and the words "Cold Killers." Eight blocks south on the 1600 block of Berkeley Way, the girl hopped off and, brandishing the gun, swiped the purse of another woman — who flagged down a motorist. He pursued the fleeing pair, blasting his horn. A police officer gave chase, darting through Ohlone Park. Racing across University Avenue, the bike was nearly hit by traffic; the couple ditched it at Addison and McGee, fleeing in opposite directions. The girl was caught with the gun. Her small, acne-scarred beau escaped.

You know the grill: On August 7, hundreds of East Bay block parties marked National Night Out, an annual event launched in 1984 by the nonprofit National Association of Town Watch (, aimed at bringing neighbors together to discuss crimefighting. Fire crews and police toured the parties, introducing themselves. Apprehension made the rounds, too. In Oakland, folks schmoozed about homicide, about why their tax money isn't being spent to hire more patrol officers, and about the legal procedures involved in recalling mayors. In Berkeley, folks schmoozed about the influx of day-tripping Oakland perps. Alas, NNO was peppered by gunfire in Richmond, where two double shootings took place a few blocks apart, injuring four.

No-tell motel: Police were summoned to Walnut Creek's Alpine Road on July 29, where a resident complained that someone had doused the inside of her vehicle with vinegar. On Creekside Road on July 31, Walnut Creek cops found a father berating his son and "throwing things around." The man "was yelling at his son over money and a rodent." The following evening, a man called the police to announce that he was "being harassed" by people at the Motel 6 on North Main Street: "They are telling him to go back to San Francisco, where he came from."

Serial rapist: A rapist has struck twice this summer on weekdays, in broad daylight, in the lobby areas of apartment buildings in Berkeley's leafy, casual South Campus district. On July 6 at around 3 p.m., a man followed his victim into a building on the 2500 block of Hillegass Avenue through its secured entranceway. On August 2 at around 6 p.m., a man followed his victim into a building on the 2100 block of Haste Street through its secured entranceway. Police believe the same rapist struck twice, based on nearly identical descriptions of a thin African-American man, likely in his late twenties, with shoulder-length dreadlocks or twists, who targeted college-age Asian women. An active investigation is under way, with police reinterviewing witnesses.

More troublesome men: At Bancroft Way and Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley on the afternoon of August 2, a girl glanced up to see a man masturbating at a second-story window. Identified as an employee of a nearby copy shop, he was later fired, according to UC Police. Another man masturbated on Platform 2 at BART's El Cerrito del Norte station on the afternoon of August 6, but was gone when police arrived. On July 31, a man wearing a blue hat, blue shirt, and blue jeans strolled down Walnut Creek's Ygnacio Valley Road at rush hour exposing himself.


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