Detroit Highwaymen Motorcycle Club luminaries Anthony (Mad Anthony) Clark and Leonard (Big Daddy) Moore are forces to be reckoned with in the outlaw biker world. One just got out of prison. The other has more than a decade of time behind bars to serve, but might be on the verge of finagling himself a successful appeal. They’re both prime suspects in the unsolved gangland slaying of Juan (Runaway) Butler, which allegedly took place inside the Highwaymen’s “mothership” clubhouse in Southwest Detroit 18 years ago.

The 19-year old Butler was stabbed and beaten to the death on March 5, 1999, his body tossed in the Detroit River. That same week, the Highwaymen headquarters on Michigan Avenue got set ablaze in what was believed to be an arson fire. Butler’s body washed ashore on April 26. He had been stabbed close to 40 times and experienced massive blunt-force trauma to the head.

Mad Anthony Clark, the Highwaymen’s one-time national president, was released from a ten-year stint in prison last month. Big Daddy Moore is the club’s most powerful member and overall Godfather. He’s currently locked away in a federal penitentiary in Pennsylvania. Clark, 59, and Moore, 69 were convicted of widespread racketeering at a 2010 federal trial. One of the trial’s star witnesses Danny (Rocket) Sanchez, Clark’s former national vice president and right-hand man, fingered Clark and Moore for participating in the Juan Butler murder.

In March, court records were filed on behalf of at least three of those found guilty back in the 2010 trial, questioning co-defendant and Highwaymen leader Aref (Scarface Steve) Nagi and his attorney’s allegiances in the light of new revelations that Nagi was a longtime government informant. Nagi, who replaced Sanchez as Highwaymen national VP, isn’t eligible for release from federal lockup until 2024. Another incarcerated Highwaymen co-defendant, Gary (Junior) Ball, will be the first to see U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds regarding the matter later this month at a court hearing scheduled for May 17.

Juan Butler grew up in Southwest Detroit, a mostly-Hispanic community in the shadow of the Ambassador Bridge, separating the United States and Canada. As a 14-year old boy, Butler was arrested for throwing a firebomb into a neighborhood storefront as an induction ritual for a local notorious street and drug gang known as the Cash Flow Posse and sent to a juvenile detention facility in Saline, Michigan, a city near Ann Arbor, roughly a half-hour’s drive west of Detroit.

Released from the Saline facility in the summer of 1998, according to police records, Butler began gravitating towards the Latin Counts, another high-profile Southwest Detroit crime syndicate. The Highwaymen and the Latin Counts have had ties since the early 1990s when the Latin Counts came to Motown from Chicago.

Rocket Sanchez has admitted to luring Butler into the Highwaymen’s original clubhouse on Michigan Avenue where Butler was killed by him, Mad Anthony Clark and Big Daddy Moore in March 1999. Sanchez told authorities in his fall 2007 debriefing that after murdering Butler, the three of them dumped his corpse in the nearby Detroit River and then came back to the clubhouse and torched it to dispose of any evidence linking the club to the execution.

During Sanchez’s appearance on the witness stand at the Highwaymen trial in 2010, Butler’s mother disrupted his testimony, rising from the back of the courtroom, pointing at him and screaming “They killed my son, that man killed my son.” Sanchez, 41, is living in an undisclosed location in another part of the country under an assumed identity in the Witness Protection Program. The Butler homicide remains an open investigation with both federal and local law enforcement and Clark and Moore are the top two “persons of interest” in the dormant cold-case probe

The Highwaymen are the state of Michigan’s oldest and largest biker gang, started in Detroit in 1954 by Elburn (Big Max) Burns. The club also has chapters in Indiana, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, New York and New Jersey. There are eight chapters in Michigan alone. Big Max Burns died of natural causes in 1980.

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