The execution-style of murders of three Massachusetts Hells Angels in Florida in the spring of 1974 set off the ongoing blood feud between the West Coast-headquartered Hells Angels and their arch-rivals from the Midwest, the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. The biker war, still raging well into its fifth decade, has cost both clubs hundreds of violent fatalities apiece.

According to federal court records, the Outlaws South Florida chapter founder James (Big Jim) Nolan ordered the slayings of Lowell, Massachusetts Hells Angels chapter members George (Whiskey G) Hartman, Edwin (Riverboat) Riley and Albert (Oskie) Simmons on April 30, 1974. Hartman, Riley and Simmons had allegedly physically attacked a South Florida Outlaw at a New Year’s Eve party months before in New York City and were lured from a Ft. Lauderdale tavern to a nearby Broward County rock pit under the pretense of completing a drug transaction.

The three kidnapped Hells Angels were bound, gagged and each blown away with shotgun blasts to the back of the head– their bodies had been weighted down with concrete blocks to bury them within the sea of gravel. Informants told the FBI that Oskie Simmons had left the Hells Angels in the weeks after the New Year’s incident and Whiskey George Hartman and “RB” Riley traveled down to Florida to retrieve club-issued gear from him when they got what they thought was a peace offering from the Outlaws in a purported narcotics deal.

As a result of the hardcore hits, notorious Hells Angels Godfather Ralph (Sonny) Barger declared all-out war on the Outlaws from his nerve center in Oakland, California, instructing club members across the country to kill any Outlaw they encounter on site, per court records from the 1980s. Detroit-based Outlaws president Harry (Taco) Bowman, the only Outlaw to ever reach Barger’s iconic status nationally, amped up the conflict in the 1990s, delivering a famous impassioned December 1993 speech to a Florida hotel suite full of club brethren, encouraging them to increase hostilities with the Hells Angels coast-to-coast. Around this time, Bowman also placed a murder contract on Barger’s head that was never carried out.

The Lowell chapter of the Hells Angels was established in 1966 as the first of the historic biker club’s chapters on the East Coast. Locally, the Lowell Hells Angels refer to themselves as “The Bad Company.” Lowell is a working class mill town located in the northeastern section of Massachusetts. The Hells Angels are a California-based club and considered a staple in the darker side of West Coast pop culture.

The Outlaws were started in Chicago in the 1930s and by the late 1960s had planted a flag in Florida. A continued push eastward by the Hells Angels in the wake of the Lowell chapter opening created a cauldron of tension boiling to a frothy crescendo in the following decade.

Big Jim Nolan was put on trial for the triple homicide three times and after two mistrials was finally found not guilty by a jury. The revered 74-year old biker don would go on to be nailed on racketeering charges a decade later. He was released from a 36-year stay in prison last October.

Back in the 1970s, the rock-pit triple murder case against Nolan was built on the testimony of Outlaw turncoats Billy (Gator Mouth) Edson and Ralph (Lucifer) Yannotta, a pair of admitted triggermen in the heinous gangland massacre. Edson had gotten arrested in a non-related case in Canada in 1976 and flipped, naming himself, Yannotta and fellow Florida Outlaws Norman (Spider) Risinger and Henry (Funky Tim) Amis as those tasked by Big Jim to eliminate the three Hells Angels two years earlier.

Lucifer Yannotta followed Edson’s lead, took the stand against Nolan and entered the Witness Protection Program. Funky Tim Amis was convicted of the slayings and stabbed to death in a prison yard fight almost decade a later. Risinger went on the run from the law until 1991 when he was apprehended in a routine traffic stop in rural Indiana.

Taco Bowman, 67, has been in federal custody since 1999, convicted of racketeering and murder charges out of Tampa, Florida. The 78-year old Sonny Barger remains active in Hells Angels affairs today, having relocated from his beloved Oakland chapter to new home turf in Arizona.

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