SAN JOSE — At least three people were home — two brothers and a sister in their teens and early 20s — when a single-engine airplane crashed into their house Sunday afternoon in a busy subdivision, barely two blocks from Reed-Hillview Airport, injuring all three on board, but hurting no one on the ground.
“I was watching TV and I heard a loud sound. The house was shaking,” said the 22-year-old brother who didn’t want to give his name, but said no one was in the front room at the time of the crash. The siblings ran outside, and with neighbors who rushed over, helped pull the young man and two young women from the plane, he said. Two suffered major injuries in the crash.
The pilot, who had just taken off from the airport just before 3 p.m., reported a “system failure” and was turning back when it crashed into the home’s front converted garage, said San Jose Fire Capt. Mike Van Elgort. The plane barely missed power lines and rooftops and parked cars before plowing through a rose-covered trellis arching over the driveway and slamming with it into the house. Only the nose of the plane crashed into the front room, but the exterior wall buckled under the force of it. The wings — and the remains of the broken trellis — stopped the plane from propelling deeper into the house. The small plane wasn’t traveling much faster than a vehicle, he said, probably between 30 mph and 50 mph at the time.
“What it is, is a blessing and thank goodness,” Van Elgort said, standing in front of the home Sunday afternoon as crews disassembled the plane to remove it. “This is a plane full of fuel, crashing into a structure on a Sunday afternoon in a neighborhood filled with residents.”
As many as 13 people live in the house in the 2100 block of Evelyn Avenue, near Capitol Expressway and Ocala, he said. While most of them weren’t home, he said, it could have been much worse.
The 22-year-old who lived in the house was the first to race out to the bloody scene.
“A guy was trying to crawl out,” he said. “He looked in pain. I was trying to help him.”
All three in the plane were taken to area hospitals. Two were in critical condition and one suffered minor injuries, Van Elgort said.
Neighbors were outside barbecuing, watching the Raiders game or pulling into their driveways when they heard the sputtering, then saw the crash.
“You could hear the engine puttering out. It took a quick turn,” said Jaime Santos, 49, who was tailgating in his driveway with a dozen friends. He lives around the corner from the crash, northwest of the airport and under the main flight path. “We saw it descend and disappear.”
Santos, who has taken a first-responder course, told his buddies, “I gotta go. Let’s go,” and they rushed to help.
Gasoline was pouring out of the plane. Two of the victims were covered in blood, he said. One of the women had been laid out on the property and appeared to be in and out of consciousness.
Tom Brimer, 48, had just pulled up to his house a few doors down when he saw the plane flying low. “Wait a minute. That plane’s not going to make it,” he said, just before it nose-dived into the house.
It isn’t clear yet who was flying the fixed-wing Cessna 172 aircraft, or how much experience he or she had. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
The plane is registered to San Jose-based McClelland Aviation Inc.
All 13 people who lived in the house were displaced.
Photographer Karl Mondon contributed to this report.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Charles Manson, the hippie cult leader who became the hypnotic-eyed face of evil across America after orchestrating the gruesome murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others in Los Angeles during the summer of 1969, died Sunday after nearly a half-century in prison. He was 83.
Manson, whose name to this day is synonymous with unspeakable violence and madness, died of natural causes at Kern County hospital, according to a California Department of Corrections statement.
A petty criminal who had been in and out of jail since childhood, the charismatic, guru-like Manson surrounded himself in the 1960s with runaways and other lost souls and then sent his disciples to butcher some of L.A.’s rich and famous in what prosecutors said was a bid to trigger a race war — an idea he got from a twisted reading of the Beatles song “Helter Skelter.”
The slayings horrified the world and, together with the deadly violence that erupted later in 1969 during a Rolling Stones concert at California’s Altamont Speedway, exposed the dangerous, drugged-out underside of the counterculture movement and seemed to mark the death of the era of peace and love.
Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Manson maintained during his tumultuous trial in 1970 that he was innocent and that society itself was guilty.
“These children that come at you with knives, they are your children. You taught them; I didn’t teach them. I just tried to help them stand up,” he said in a courtroom soliloquy.
The Manson Family, as his followers were called, slaughtered five of its victims on Aug. 9, 1969, at Tate’s home: the actress, who was 8½ months pregnant, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, Polish movie director Voityck Frykowski and Steven Parent, a friend of the estate’s caretaker. Tate’s husband, “Rosemary’s Baby” director Roman Polanski, was out of the country at the time.
The next night, a wealthy grocer and his wife, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, were stabbed to death in their home across town.
The killers scrawled such phrases as “Pigs” and “Healter Skelter” (sic) in blood at the crime scenes.
Three months later, a Manson follower was jailed on an unrelated charge and told a cellmate about the bloodbath, leading to the cult leader’s arrest.
In the annals of American crime, Manson became the embodiment of evil, a short, shaggy-haired, bearded figure with a demonic stare and an “X″ — later turned into a swastika — carved into his forehead.
“Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969,” author Joan Didion wrote in her 1979 book “The White Album.”
After a trial that lasted nearly a year, Manson and three followers — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten — were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Another defendant, Charles “Tex” Watson, was convicted later. All were spared execution and given life sentences after the California Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in 1972.
Atkins died behind bars in 2009. Krenwinkel, Van Houten and Watson remain in prison.
Another Manson devotee, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975, but her gun jammed. She served 34 years in prison.
Manson was born in Cincinnati on Nov. 12, 1934, to a teenager, possibly a prostitute, and was in reform school by the time he was 8. After serving a 10-year sentence for check forgery in the 1960s, Manson was said to have pleaded with authorities not to release him because he considered prison home.
“My father is the jailhouse. My father is your system,” he would later say in a monologue on the witness stand. “I am only what you made me. I am only a reflection of you.”
He was set free in San Francisco during the heyday of the hippie movement in the city’s Haight-Ashbury section, and though he was in his mid-30s by then, he began collecting followers — mostly women — who likened him to Jesus Christ. Most were teenagers; many came from good homes but were at odds with their parents.
The “family” eventually established a commune-like base at the Spahn Ranch, a ramshackle former movie location outside Los Angeles, where Manson manipulated his followers with drugs, supervised orgies and subjected them to bizarre lectures.
He had musical ambitions and befriended rock stars, including Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. He also met Terry Melcher, a music producer who had lived in the same house that Polanski and Tate later rented.
By the summer 1969, Manson had failed to sell his songs, and the rejection was later seen as a trigger for the violence. He complained that Wilson took a Manson song called “Cease to Exist,” revised it into “Never Learn Not to Love” and recorded it with the Beach Boys without giving Manson credit.
Manson was obsessed with Beatles music, particularly “Piggies” and “Helter Skelter,” a hard-rocking song that he interpreted as forecasting the end of the world. He told his followers that “Helter Skelter is coming down” and predicted a race war would destroy the planet.
“Everybody attached themselves to us, whether it was our fault or not,” the Beatles’ George Harrison, who wrote “Piggies,” later said of the murders. “It was upsetting to be associated with something so sleazy as Charles Manson.”
According to testimony, Manson sent his devotees out on the night of Tate’s murder with instructions to “do something witchy.” The state’s star witness, Linda Kasabian, who was granted immunity, testified that Manson tied up the LaBiancas, then ordered his followers to kill. But Manson insisted: “I have killed no one, and I have ordered no one to be killed.”
His trial was nearly scuttled when President Richard Nixon said Manson was “guilty, directly or indirectly.” Manson grabbed a newspaper and held up the front-page headline for jurors to read: “Manson Guilty, Nixon Declares.” Attorneys demanded a mistrial but were turned down.
From then on, jurors, sequestered at a hotel for 10 months, traveled to and from the courtroom in buses with blacked-out windows so they could not read the headlines on newsstands.
Manson was also later convicted of the slayings of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea.
Over the decades, Manson and his followers appeared sporadically at parole hearings, where their bids for freedom were repeatedly rejected. The women suggested they had been rehabilitated, but Manson himself stopped attending, saying prison had become his home.
The killings inspired movies and TV shows, and Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi wrote a best-selling book about the murders, “Helter Skelter.” The macabre shock rocker Marilyn Manson borrowed part of his stage name from the killer.
“The Manson case, to this day, remains one of the most chilling in crime history,” prominent criminal justice reporter Theo Wilson wrote in her 1998 memoir, “Headline Justice: Inside the Courtroom — The Country’s Most Controversial Trials .”
“Even people who were not yet born when the murders took place,” Wilson wrote, “know the name Charles Manson, and shudder.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Sunday expressed more doubts about a new policy allowing trophies of African elephants shot for sport to be imported, appearing to question whether “this horror show” would actually aid in the conservation of any animal.
The trophy policy was among issues Trump cited in a series of tweets. He also insulted Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and branded as ungrateful the father of one of the UCLA basketball players jailed in China but freed after Trump’s intervention. The death of a Customs and Border Protection agent in Texas brought a message of condolence.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has argued that encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill the threatened species would help raise money for conservation programs. It announced Thursday that it would allow such importation, drawing criticism from animal rights advocates, environmental groups and some GOP lawmakers.
Trump decided Friday to delay the policy until he could review it with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. However, on Sunday night, Trump tweeted that he would announce a decision in the coming days “but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service said in a written notice issued Thursday that permitting parts of elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia to be brought back as trophies will raise money for conservation programs. The change would override a 2014 ban imposed by the Obama administration. The new policy applies to the remains of African elephants killed between January 2016 and December 2018.
In another tweet Sunday, Trump said he thinks Flake won’t support the Republican tax overhaul in Congress as he insulted the Arizona Republican two days after Flake criticized him. Flake’s spokesman responded that the senator was “still reviewing the tax reform bill on its merits. How he votes on it will have nothing to do with the President.”
Flake, who announced last month that he was not seeking re-election, was caught on an open microphone Friday saying the GOP is “toast” if the party follows Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. It was not a surprising sentiment given Flake’s previous criticism of Trump. Moore’s refusal to drop out of a special Senate race in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls has divided Republicans.
In the Sunday tweet, Trump fired back: “Sen. Jeff Flake(y), who is unelectable in the Great State of Arizona (quit race, anemic polls) was caught (purposely) on “mike” saying bad things about your favorite President. He’ll be a NO on tax cuts because his political career anyway is ‘toast.’”
Trump also tweeted Sunday that he should have left three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China in jail. That remark came after the father of player LiAngelo Ball minimized the president’s involvement in winning the players’ release in comments to ESPN.
Trump tweeted: “Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!”
He revisited the matter in another tweet: “Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar. Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!”
The death of Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez and the injury of his partner in the Big Bend area of Texas prompted Trump to tweet: “Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!”
Border Patrol spokesmen said they could not provide any details on what caused the agent’s injuries or what led to them.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two of President Donald Trump’s leading economic advisers sent mixed signals Sunday on the fate of a health care provision in the Senate version of a $1.5 trillion measure to overhaul business and personal income taxes that is expected to be voted on after Thanksgiving.
The provision to repeal a requirement that everyone in the U.S. have insurance has emerged as a major sticking point for Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who has said that issue should be dealt with separately from the push by Trump and fellow Republicans to overhaul the tax code.
Collins’ vote is crucial in a chamber where Republicans hold a slim 52-48 edge.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has already declared his opposition to the bill, saying last week that it doesn’t cut business taxes enough for partnerships and corporations. GOP Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee, John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Rand Paul of Kentucky also have concerns about the bill.
Republicans cannot afford to lose more than two senators on the final vote, which would allow Vice President Mike Pence to cast a tie-breaking 51st vote in his capacity as president of the Senate. Democrats are not expected to support the bill, as was the case when the House passed its version last week.
Asked whether the health care provision will be removed to keep Republicans on board, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated that the current plan is to keep the provision in the bill. The provision is not in the House version of the legislation.
“The president thinks we should get rid of it. I think we should get rid of it,” Mnuchin said. “It’s an unfair tax on poor people. To think that you put a penalty on people who can’t afford to buy medical policies, it’s just fundamentally unfair.”
He added: “But we’re going to work with the Senate as we go through this.”
Budget director Mick Mulvaney said the White House is open to scrapping the provision, which would repeal a key component of the Affordable Care Act health care law enacted by President Barack Obama. Trump has pressed for the provision to be added to the bill, partly to show progress on undoing the health care law. Congress fell short during previous attempts earlier this year to repeal the overall health care law.
“I don’t think anybody doubts where the White House is on repealing and replacing Obamacare. We absolutely want to do it,” Mulvaney said. “If we can repeal part of Obamacare as part of a tax bill and have a tax bill that is still a good tax bill that can pass, that’s great.
“If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, then we’re OK with taking it out,” Mulvaney added.
Legislative director Marc Short said the White House “is very comfortable with the House bill,” which does not include what’s known as the “individual mandate.” But Short said the White House views the individual mandate as a tax and “we like the fact that the Senate has included it in its bill.”
At issue is a provision to repeal the requirement that everyone in the U.S. have health insurance. Eliminating the so-called individual mandate under “Obamacare” would add an estimated $338 billion in revenue over 10 years that the Senate tax-writers used for additional tax cuts.
Collins said Sunday that the tax advantage that some middle-income consumers would get under the broader bill could end up being canceled out by repealing the mandate. They would face higher insurance premiums coupled with the loss of federal subsidies to help them afford the cost of insurance, she said.
“The fact is that if you do pull this piece of the Affordable Care Act out, for some middle-income families, the increased premium is going to cancel out the tax cut that they would get,” Collins said.
Collins said she hasn’t decided how to vote on the bill because it will be amended before the final vote.
Mnuchin, meanwhile, said he’s had “very good discussions” with Collins, Corker and Johnson about the bill. He said he wants to make sure their views are heard and incorporated before the final vote.
Mnuchin spoke on “Fox News Sunday.” Mulvaney and Collins were interviewed on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Collins also appeared on ABC’s “This Week.”
Sen. Cory Booker’s name comes up frequently in talk about the 2020 presidential race, but some Democrats wonder if he has what it takes to compete in what could be a crowded primary.
While Democrats say Booker, 48, is one of the party’s “fresh faces” compared to elder statesmen like former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, they aren’t sure he has created a lane for himself against would-be rivals.
“It’s a very high ceiling but he hasn’t met early expectations,” said one top Democratic strategist who has worked on several presidential campaigns. “He needs a signature fight or issue to really differentiate himself.
Booker — who is known for his nonstop Twitter presence and his touchy-feely speeches — hasn’t quite captured the attention of party insiders and big donors, many Democrats say. And there’s a fear he may be a little too soft for the party’s white-knuckled approach against President Trump.
“There’s a reputation that’s maybe unfairly adhered itself to him of being a gadfly, a show horse, not a workhorse,” the strategist added. “Some of it happens because he gives a good speech and seems to relish social media.”
Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in New Jersey put it this way: “He is someone who thinks about the issues but he’s not somebody who is going to fork through every line of the budget.”
Booker’s office did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
But in an interview earlier this year on “The Ezra Klein Show,” Booker acknowledged that Democrats want him to be a little tougher.
“Democrats all the time, where they say, ‘Enough with the love and kindness stuff, Cory. We've got to fight.'’ And I say, ‘When are those mutually exclusive?’”
“I think again we lose a bit of our moral compass when we are demonizing people. I just don't believe you need to be mean, you need to be deceitful, you need to proactive the dark arts in order to win elected office,” he said.
Booker is seen in different lights by centrists and progressives in the party.
The increasingly energized progressive wing of the party sees him as too pro-business.
Booker has long-running ties to Wall Street. In the 2013-2014 election cycle, he filled his coffers, raising nearly $2 million from the investment and securities industry — bringing in more from the industry than any other candidate.
Progressives also point to the time when then President Obama went after his 2020 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on his ties to Bain Capital. Instead of agreeing with Obama, Booker called the Obama campaign's attacks “nauseating” and “ridiculous” in an appearance on NBC's “Meet the Press.”
Centrists believe he’s trying to reinvent himself as a progressive.
This summer he announced that he was backing Bernie Sanders’s single payer healthcare proposal. He also began advocating for the legalization of marijuana and introduced an environmental justice bill.
The effort as clearly aimed at increasing Booker’s appeal with progressives.
Advocating for the legalization of marijuana in particular “signaled a desire for an eventual candidate Booker to have a case to make to millennials,” said Brigid Callahan Harrison, a professor of political science and law at Montclair State University.
But some Democrats think the move to the left isn’t a good one for Booker, given rivals who will be clear favorites with that part of the party.
“He’d be smart not to try and chase Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to the left, and rather use his background of taking some centrist pro-business positions to differentiate himself from the pack in what could be a fragmented primary,” said Jon Selib, a Democratic strategist who served as chief of staff to former Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mt.)
The top Democratic strategist agreed that it may be tough for Booker to win over progressives in a race against the likes of Warren and Sanders.
“I can’t see progressives letting him out of the primary,” the strategist said. “They see him as too close to Wall Street, too willing to go bipartisan when a fight would be more appropriate,” the strategist said. “To make a vast understatement, someone whose instincts are to go middle-of-the-road in a moment that calls for a revolution is going to have a tough time.”
Booker remains an attractive candidate who is relatively well known.
A poll out last month from the University of New Hampshire showed that Booker trailed just Biden, Sanders and Sen. Warren (D-Mass.) in a survey among Democratic voters.
The former mayor of Newark has been known to respond to curses from critics on Twitter with a simple “I love you.”
Last year, for example, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump took to Twitter to attack Booker.
“If Cory Booker is the future of the Democratic Party, they have no future!" I now more about Cory than he knows about himself.”
Booker responded with a simple “I love you, I just don't want you to be my president.”
“I think he has a lot of potential in 2020 because he is an inspirational figure,” Selib said. “There are a lot of elements in his story in Newark that are great to tell — I mean, he’s run into burning buildings and lived in a housing project — and that’s a great contrast with Donald Trump, who has no idea what it’s like to be middle class.”
Booker has “walked the walk in a way few politicians have done,” he added.
He got some props from Democrats in January when he testified against Jeff Sessions — a move that made him the first sitting senator to testify against a fellow senator’s cabinet nomination.
The junior senator may have also gotten a light endorsement of sorts from Donna Brazile, the former interim chief of the Democratic National Committee, who wrote in a new book that she had briefly considered replacing Hillary Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine with a Biden and Booker ticket.
“I think it played well in the sense that he didn't see it coming and what it continues to do is to portray him as the future of the Democratic Party,” Murray said.
Harrison dismissed the criticism that Booker is a “lightweight.”
“People confuse his social media presence with a flighty personna,” she said. “But if you listen to him beyond 140 characters you have to be impressed by the substance of what he says.”
Harrison said his soaring speeches and more gentle and bipartisan approach might also work to his advantage.
“In this political climate, boy isn’t that something that is really appealing right now?” she said.
A longtime Houston police officer arrested in an extensive prostitution sting in October has been identified.
Robert Teweleit, 54, was arrested Oct. 4 during a 10-day sting at a massage parlor turned brothel that was taken over in early October by Houston Police Department, spokesman John Cannon exclusively told Chron.com Friday afternoon. He was charged with misdemeanor prostitution, according to Harris County District Court documents.
Teweleit's name and mugshot were initially withheld by police following the sting, which netted 138 other people. Those names and mugshots were immediately released. Teweleit was not identified because he was an undercover officer, Cannon added. Teweleit was last assigned to the auto theft division. He was sworn into the department September 1986.
Almost 140 men, including a Houston police officer, were arrested during a 10-day sting at former massage parlor turned brothel that was taken over earlier this month by the Houston Police Department, officials announced Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017.
Cannon told Chron.com that they were comfortable releasing Teweleit's name, information, and mugshot Friday because enough time had passed since his arrest. Teweleit was initially suspended with pay until he retired from HPD on Nov. 1
Teweleit retained the legal services of Paul Gene Aman, who was unavailable for comment Friday. Aman's legal administrator, David Donahue, told Chron.com Friday afternoon that he worried of his client's identity being made public considering his undercover position in the department.
Teweleit is due back in court Dec. 11.
Once known as the "7 Star Spa" at 11316 Westheimer, the massage parlor with seven private rooms, two stand-up shower rooms and a kitchen/laundry room had a sordid history of prostitution busts before it was closed in 2016, police officials said during a news conference Oct. 26.
HPD's vice division reopened the spa in early October as "8 Star Spa," and officers disguised themselves as employees to make arrests. Most of the men were arrested at the brothel after money changed hands, and they were then booked into jail.
During a news conference Oct. 26, HPD Chief Art Acevedo said the undercover police officers charged an average rate of $60 as a door fee and $120 for sex acts.
"These 139 individuals are part of the reason the sex trade is alive here in Houston," Acevedo said during the conference. "These men should be ashamed."
Because Teweleit was arrested while off duty, the Houston Police Officers Union is not representing him, second vice president Joe Gamaldi told Chron.com. Teweleit's arrest and charge does not affect his pension, Gamaldi added.
"If the allegations are true, it is conduct unbecoming of a Houston police officer," Gamaldi said.
India’s Manushi Chhillar on Saturday won the coveted Miss World 2017 crown at a grand event in China, bringing to an end the country’s dry spell of 17 years at the top pageant contest.
The 20-year-old from Haryana, who is a medical student, edged out top five contestants from England, France, Kenya and Mexico.
Chhillar was presented the crown by Stephanie Del Valle, the last year’s Miss World winner from Puerto Rico at the event in Sanya City Arena in China which was televised live globally.
The announcement about Chhillar winning the Miss World crown was also made on the pageant’s official Twitter handle as well as on its Facebook page.
“The winner of Miss World 2017 is Miss India Manushi Chhillar,” the tweet said.
The first and the second runners-up were Miss England Stephanie Hill and Miss Mexico Andrea Meza.
In the top five round, Chhillar was asked which profession according to her deserved the highest salary.
“I think a mother deserves the highest respect and when you talk about salary it’s not always about cash but I feel it’s the love and respect that you give to someone. My mother has always been the biggest inspiration in my life.
“All mothers sacrifice so much for their kids. So, I think it is the job of a mother that deserves the highest salary,” Chhillar said to a wide-applause.
Miss World 2016 Stephanie Del Valle (top) crowns on India’s Manushi Chhillar. (AFP Photo)
Chhillar is the sixth Indian to win the coveted crown, which was first won by Reita Faria back in 1966.
Aishwarya Rai had bagged the title in 1994, followed by Diana Haydon in 1997, Yukta Mookhey in 1999 and Priyanka Chopra in 2000, the last for India.
According to Chhillar’s profile on the Miss World website, she aims to be a cardiac surgeon and wants to open a chain of non-profitable hospitals based in rural areas.
A trained Indian classical dancer, Chhillar has a passion for outdoor sports and actively participates in paragliding, bungee jumping, snorkelling and scuba diving besides sketching and painting.
Her personal motto, as described on the website, reads: “When you cease to dream you cease to live” and “Courage to give flight to your dreams and the ability to believe in yourself makes life worth living”.
Mafia 'boss of bosses' Salvatore 'Toto' Riina has died in hospital while serving multiple life sentences as the mastermind of a bloody strategy to assassinate Italian prosecutors trying to bring down the Cosa Nostra.
Riina died at the age of 87, hours after the Justice Ministry had allowed his family members bedside visits on Thursday, which was his birthday, after he had been placed in a medically induced coma in a prison wing at a hospital in Parma, northern Italy.
The Justice Ministry confirmed his death.
Riina, one of Sicily's most notorious Mafia bosses who ruthlessly directed the mob's criminal empire during 23 years in hiding, was serving 26 life sentences for murder convictions as a powerful Cosa Nostra boss.
He was captured in Palermo, Sicily's capital, in 1993 and imprisoned under a law that requires strict security for top mobsters, including being detained in isolated sections of prisons with limited time outside their cells.
During the height of his power, prosecutors accused Riina of masterminding a strategy, carried out over several years, to assassinate Italian prosecutors, police officials and others who were going after the Cosa Nostra.
The bloody campaign ultimately backfired and led to his capture as the enraged state fought back after bombs killed Italy's two leading anti-Mafia magistrates, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, two months apart in 1992.
Top anti-Mafia prosecutor Franco Roberti said Riina had never repented for his crimes.
"He was still considered the 'boss of bosses', even in prison," he said.
Mr Roberti said his death will lead to a power struggle at the top of the Cosa Nostra, even if his decades in a Milan prison cell, with severe restrictions on his contacts, ensured he no longer had any operational influence.
The prosecutor said the Cosa Nostra had been marginalised in recent times in comparison with the Calabrian-based 'ndrangheta organised crime syndicate that has spread into Italy and northern Europe.
"But as always happens, these periods alternate and there are changes. We are now seeing an increase in activities on a financial level by Cosa Nostra subjects. We are monitoring this," he said.
Riina was born the son of a farmer in the mountain town of Corleone in central Sicily. The town's name was borrowed for the main character in the Godfather novels by Mario Puzo, written years before Riina rose in the Mafia ranks and later made into blockbuster films.
Investigators believe Riina jockeyed his way to the top of the Mafia by pitting rivals against each other, and then standing out of the way of the bloodshed that felled one boss after the other in the 1970s.
He went into hiding in 1969 after being ordered by the state to leave Sicily after he had finished a five-year prison sentence for Mafia association.
During his decades on the run, the only picture authorities had of the fugitive was more than 30 years old.
More than one Mafia defector said Riina had come and gone as he pleased during the years as Italy's top fugitive, directing Mafia activities from Palermo. He was handed his first life sentence in 1987 after being tried in absentia on murder and drug trafficking charges.
For decades, he seemed to mock law enforcement as he reigned from underground over the mob's drug trafficking network and ordered the deaths of top anti-Mafia fighters.
Anti-Mafia investigators worked with turncoats to zero in on the "capo dei capi", locating Riina and blocking his car on a Palermo road on January 15 1993, within months of Mr Borsellino's murder.
Riina refused to collaborate with law enforcement after his capture.
The archbishop of Monreale, which includes Corleone, said Riina's death "ends the delusion of the Cosa Nostra boss of bosses' omnipotence".
"But the Mafia has not been defeated, and therefore we should not let down our guards," Archbishop Michele Pennisi said.