The longstanding biker war between the Hells Angels and the Outlaws was at a boiling point in the early 1980s after a Hells Angel allegedly killed an Outlaw in cold blood in Toledo, Ohio. Hells Angels Cleveland chapter initiate Jack (Jack-O-Lantern) Gentry was put on trial 35 years ago this fall for the first-degree murder of Toledo Outlaw Ralph (Real Time) Tanner on November 30, 1980. Informants claimed Gentry “rolled his bones” by killing the 25-year old Tanner behind the Outlaws’ Toledo clubhouse as a means of getting his full patch.

The trial held in a Lucas County, Ohio circuit court in late October 1982 drew droves of Hells Angels into the thick of the Outlaws Midwest stronghold to show support for Gentry, who was acquitted of all charges in a four-day proceeding. The Hells Angels are known as a West Coast biker gang, headquartering club affairs out of California. The triple homicide of three Massachusetts Hells Angels in Florida in the spring of 1974 started a war with the Outlaws, historically headquartered out of Chicago and Detroit, that has still yet to cease and boasts a body count well into the hundreds.

Infamous Hells Angel West Coast Godfather Ralph (Sonny) Barger and the club’s biggest East Coast boss of the time period, Sandy Alexander, both attended Gentry’s trial in Toledo. Barger and his large and rowdy California contingent rented a house on Sylvania Street and caused quite a stir with their presence. One female juror was excused from duty after her brother was accosted by a group of Hells Angels in a downtown Toledo bar and threatened to make sure his sister “voted the right way” in deliberations. Upon the jury coming back with a not guilty verdict, Barger through a party for Gentry at the Sheraton Hotel in the area and even sent invitations to the jurors, whose addresses the club was somehow able to ascertain.

Due to proximity, the Outlaws’ Toledo chapter comes under the auspice of Detroit. The state of Michigan is the club’s most dominant region, successfully fending off all attempts from the Hells Angels to infiltrate its borders. The closest Hells Angels chapter to Detroit is the Cleveland chapter, founded in 1967 with the merging of local clubs, the Animals and the Gooses and nicknamed the “Dirty 30.” Toledo is roughly 90 miles from both Detroit and Cleveland.

According to court testimony, Gentry and other Cleveland Hells Angels stalked their Outlaw targets for weeks leading up to Tanner’s slaying, dispatching squads of bikers from Cleveland to Toledo on recognizance missions. Former Hells Angels Cleveland chapter vice president Clarence (Butch) Crouch testified that Gentry bragged to him about killing Tanner, waved around a newspaper clipping detailing the crime and was publically acknowledged and congratulated for the deed at a club meeting, all in the days after it occurred. Gentry even admitted to bobbling the murder weapon per his own account of the events as recounted in Crouch’s testimony.

Living under an assumed name in Texas, Crouch shot himself and his wife and stepson in a murder-suicide in 2013. Back in the 1960s, the native of the Louisiana Bayou helped jumpstart the Hells Angels muscle in the Midwest with the opening of the Cleveland chapter, assigned to come to Ohio and oversee the combining of the Animals and the Gooses by Sonny Barger himself. Barger, 78, remains active today in club affairs, residing in Arizona in semiretirement,

Related Post

Leave a Reply