Bailey murder triggers investigation

March 26, 2008 9:21:32 AM PDT
A 40-year-old double murder case that was never solved in Santa Barbara may have ties to Oakland's "Your Black Muslim Bakery" and the brother of the bakery's late founder: Yusef Bey, still living in the Bay Area.

The case is being re-opened, only because questions were being asked by the "Chauncey Bailey" project. It was founded last year to continue the work of the journalist who was murdered while investigating the bakery.

Her name was Birdie Mae Scott. She was shot dead with her husband Wendell in their Santa Barbara apartment in August 1968.

The Scotts were members of a mosque, founded by two brothers, Billy X and Joseph Stephens, who later changed his name to Yusef Bey.

The Santa Barbara mosque was the forerunner of the "Your Black Muslim Bakery" Bey started a few years later in Oakland.

At the time of the Scott murders, police theorized there may be a connection to the mosque, and that Birdie and her husband were killed for complaining about the Stephens brothers.

No arrests were ever made.

Jackie Hill remembers how the murders shook the community.

"It was really a big, big deal. Murders were something that very rarely happened in Santa Barbara, and very rarely in the African American community here," said Jackie Hill from Santa Barbara.

Now, Santa Barbara police have re-opened the investigation after inquiries from the Chauncey Bailey project, named for the Oakland journalist gunned down, while investigating the "Your Black Muslim Bakery."

"Over the course of years there have been more than five or six, maybe eight unsolved homicides, related to the bakery," said Robert Rosenthal from the Chauncey Bailey Project.

For many years, the bakery served as a symbol of black enterprise in Oakland. But in 1994, there were allegations four bakery associates tortured a man over a real estate deal.

Then, Yusef Bey was charged with statutory rape, and died in 2003 awaiting trial.

After that, two of his hand-picked successors were murdered and a third nearly killed. And last August, Chauncey bailey was gunned down -- a bakery associate was charged with his killing.

"There's been some recent information from some cases up in the Oakland area and so we're going to re-open the case and be a little more active on it to see the similarities and see if there's any similarities with the cases up in Oakland and the one in 1968," said Lt. Armando Martel from the Santa Barbara Police Department.

One person Santa Barbara detectives hope to interview in Oakland, Yusef Bey's surviving brother Billy X Stephens.

The credit for that story should go to the "Chauncey Bailey Project," a consortium of local news organizations, including ABC7.


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