Federal prosecutors allege that four missing Hells Angels motorcycle club members were cremated over several years at a Fresno funeral home.
The allegations were revealed in a federal sentencing memorandum filed on Thursday, Oct. 12, in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
The alleged cremations came to light during an investigation into the death of Hells Angels member Joel Silva.
Prosecutors say that in 2014, three Hells Angels living in Santa Rosa and Tulare believed fellow member Silva was “creating problems” for the Sonoma County chapter and that “he had to be killed.” They arranged for Silva to visit the Fresno Hells Angels clubhouse where he was shot in the head, prosecutors say. His body has never been found.
Arranging a Secret Cremation
During their investigation, federal investigators concluded that Fresno Hells Angel Merl Frederick Hefferman, 54, arranged a secret cremation. Levi Phipps, a manager at the Yost and Webb funeral home in Fresno, testified that in the leadup to Silva’s death, Hefferman asked for keys to the funeral home and spoke of a “fascination with the crematory” and a desire to make “something disappear.”
After Silva’s disappearance, Phipps said, Hefferman told him to be at the crematory in the morning; two men arrived and “loaded Silva’s body into an incinerator,” Phipps testified. Prosecutors say phone records line up with Phipps’ testimony.