By Scott Thomas Anderson — published in The Sacramento News & Review

Ronald “Renegade” Yandell

If federal prosecutors have their way, Samuel Keeton will be the first of many dominoes to fall in a widespread plot orchestrated by the Aryan Brotherhood, a group that sought to be the most feared white power criminal organization in California.

Keeton recently pleaded guilty to running methamphetamine and heroin from Southern California to Sacramento on behalf of the notorious gang, knowing that his activities were part of a larger enterprise that involved multiple killings in different state prisons. He’s one of 16 individuals indicted on a host…

After more than three decades, California authorities reopen a vicious unsolved murder

By Scott Thomas Anderson — published in the Sacramento News & Review

The sun sets on a stretch of Roseville’s railyard next to where Madeline Garcia, known as ‘the Can Lady,’ was found murdered in 1984.

There was darkness over the tracks.

In the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 26, 1984, a patrol car moved down Roseville’s Atlantic Street, its headlights tracking smoke-brushed freight cars that idled in the largest switchyard on the West Coast. This was a sliver of the city some stayed away from after dusk. Its nighttime corridor was split by rundown bars on one side and a dim plain of cold rails and bending shadows on the other. This wasn’t the Roseville that would later be known as a sprawling, suburban…

By Scott Thomas Anderson — published in The Sacramento News & Review

Doyle Hemling was in his bedroom when a car door slammed in the darkness.

Hemling lived on Annabelle Avenue, a one-way country road dipping through fields on the edge of Roseville. He heard the car speeding along its shadowed oaks and mailboxes. A dog barked in the distance. He stepped into the hallway and saw a glow against his windows. Moving closer, he realized flames were rising nine feet from his driveway, sharp and glaring against the night.

Hemling thought a tree was on fire. Using his cane…

by Scott Thomas Anderson — published in The Sacramento News & Review

The hikers stopped when they saw the skeleton splayed out along the manzanita and scrub brush. It was weather-beaten. A cervical vertebra was missing from the base of the skull, along with a piece of its sternum and its entire left hand and fingers. But the tattered pants, sweater and bra loosely clinging to the bones left no doubt about what the hikers were staring at.

It was January 27. The hikers were standing in an upper tree line above Forrest Hill Road in Placer County. Sheriff’s deputies…

by Scott Thomas Anderson — published in The Sacramento News & Review

Dana Gioia fought political wars in Washington D.C. for the future of American letters. Photo by Ashley Hayes-Stone.

Dana Gioia stepped through a Romanesque archway, looked at the stone columns down Pennsylvania Avenue and realized he needed a form of “self-brain surgery” — he had to escape Washington, D.C.

It was 2009 and the internationally known poet had just spent six years fighting to rebuild the National Endowment for the Arts, convincing far-right congressmen that it could be more than a controversy-generator around Jesus’s image splashed in body fluids. Gioia had reluctantly agreed to lead the agency on the heels of Newt Gingrich getting House Republicans…

by Scott Thomas Anderson — Published in The Sacramento News & Review in association with USC Annenburg Center for Health Journalism

Mo Chao Yang walks through her home garden in North Sacramento. Photo by Scott Thomas Anderson.

In 1976, Robert By Khang was lost in a city where no one spoke Hmong, where no one could tell him that he’d gotten on the wrong bus or how he could get home to his wife and baby.

That city was Sacramento.

The Hmong community agrees that By Khang was the first of its ranks to ever move to the capital city. That’s partly because of the fighting he survived during the Vietnam War. By Khang was among…

by Scott Thomas Anderson — Published in The Sacramento News & Review

The house is torn down now. Some papers stapled to a hacked-up stump are the only evidence it ever existed. Before getting ripped to pieces, the double-wide trailer on the edge of Rancho Tehama Reserve was a testament to the nocturnal activities of Kevin Janson Neal. …

by Scott Thomas Anderson — Published in The Sacramento News & Review

A train-hopper sits near the Union Pacific rail line near Roseville, California. Photo by Karlos Rene Ayala

Josh Alpert once wrote a letter about the death of his twin brother.

“I can’t glance in the mirror without seeing him,” Josh confessed. “And some days I even choose not to look in the mirror at all.”

A week later, Josh’s words were read aloud in a near empty courtroom hundreds of miles from where he and his twin grew up.

The letter was about a life extinguished at the age of 19. It was about John Alpert, an honors student who volunteered to feed the homeless…

by Scott Thomas AndersonPublished in the Roseville Press Tribune

Donan Castle sits on the water near a bridge to Scotland’s Isle of Skye.

The streetscape of Edinburgh’s Old Town was once called the murky fishbone, that long spine of “Royal Mile” descending from a castle-head as courts, wynds and alleys went fanning from its vertebrae like barbed ribs. Within this fossil frame of bronze brick and cobblestone once existed the men who brought western culture its most haunting memories. …

by Scott Thomas Anderson — Published in Roseville The Press Tribune

Kilkenny, Ireland

William Butler Yeats called it “the Celtic Twilight,” a push to save Ireland’s wandering hearthside storytellers of the past — those oracles casting spells of the imagination through the beauty of the land and allusions to war, oppression and hardship unfolding on the misty hills and pastures: Yeats coined the term 20 years before the last battle for Irish Independence would evolve such traditions into every element of the nation’s artistry, giving the Emerald Isle some of the most evocative musicians, writers and playwrights the 20th Century has ever…

Scott Thomas Anderson

California journalist. Writer-producer of the ‘Drinkers With Writing Problems’ podcast. Author of ‘Shadow People’ & ‘The Cutting Four-piece’

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