Home Book editor Tiburon author explores his sister’s murder amid 1970s Bay Area radicalism – Marin Independent Journal

Tiburon author explores his sister’s murder amid 1970s Bay Area radicalism – Marin Independent Journal

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  • Author Lee Darby in his home office space in Tiburon on Friday, April 29, 2022. Darby says the new book ‘Stars in Our Eyes’ is a journey into the 1975 murder of his 28-year-old sister. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

  • Author Lee Darby holds a photo of his late sister...

    Author Lee Darby holds a photo of his late sister Sally Voye at her home in Tiburon Friday, April 29, 2022. The photo is Voye’s 1968 graduation photo from the University of Santa Barbara. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

  • TIBURON CA - APRIL 29: A photo circa 1955, in...

    TIBURON CA – APRIL 29: A circa 1955 photo, rear standing, shows Sally Voye standing next to her sister, Tiburon author Lee Darby with their younger sister Anne standing in front of Lee at their home in Menlo Park. Photographed in Tiburon, Calif. Friday, April 29, 2022. Darby says his new book Stars in Our Eyes is a journey into the 1975 murder of his 28-year-old sister Sally. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

  • TIBURON CA - APRIL 29: Author Lee Darby tends to...

    TIBURON CA – APRIL 29: Author Lee Darby tends to her garden at her home in Tiburon, Calif. on Friday, April 29, 2022. Darby’s new book Stars in Our Eyes is a journey into the 1975 murder of her 28 years old – Big sister. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

  • TIBURON CA - APRIL 29: A copy of Lee Darby...

    TIBURON CA – April 29: A copy of Lee Darby’s new book Stars in Our Eyes, notes for future reading, photo of his late sister Sally Voye and other family photos on desk at space Darby’s work at her home in Tiburon, Calif., on Friday, April 29, 2022. Darby’s new book is a journey into the 1975 murder of her 28-year-old sister. The photo is Voye’s 1968 graduation photo from the University of Santa Barbara. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

Lee Darby spent decades preparing to write his version of his family’s tragedy in the Bay Area. It wasn’t until she was quarantined at her home in Tiburon that the pages came together in her first book.

“Stars in Our Eyes” tells the story of the murder of Darby’s sister in 1975 at the age of 28 in San Francisco. The book explores the events leading up to her sister’s death, as well as connections to the highly publicized kidnapping of Patty Hearst and the attempted assassination of then-President Gerald Ford.

Darby will present the memoirs from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 240 Tiburon Blvd.

Darby recounts how her family spent months in the dark about the circumstances surrounding her sister’s death. Sally Voye was a Vallejo teacher volunteering in a literacy program at San Quentin State Prison when she met Wilbert “Popeye” Jackson, a former inmate and prison activist in 1975. Voye s is involved with Jackson’s group, Black Prisoners’ Union, Darby said.

“We all knew that, because she would come and talk to anyone who wanted to listen,” Darby said. “She believed in their mission, which was to improve conditions in the prison. We knew she had been involved with him, but we had no idea it was going to come to this.

Voye and Jackson were shot several times early on June 8, 1975, while sitting in a car outside Jackson’s apartment in the Mission District. Darby said bullets were found on either side of the car, adding to the suspicion that there was more than one shooter involved.

The murder sparked weeks of local and national newspaper coverage and speculation about their deaths, as well as controversy in left-wing and prison circles. Darby’s book explores connections to their deaths and rumors that the two were FBI informants, which she denied.

Jackson was a recognized liaison between the radical group United Federated Forces of the Symbionese Liberation Army and the police, the FBI and the Hearst family during the kidnapping and ransom of Patty Hearst in 1974. According to Darby, Jackson has also was involved in the food program Hearst organized for the release of his daughter, People in Need – where FBI informant Sara Jane Moore volunteered before attempting to assassinate President Ford.

Richard London was convicted of the murders of Voye and Jackson at a trial in 1978 and recognized as a member of the union’s rival group, Tribal Thumb – a collective of ex-convicts and Berkeley radicals who moved to the peninsula. But Darby said his sentencing was “not at all satisfactory” and described in his book the level of anguish felt by the family.

“It was unsettling to think that these other murderers were out there, if we said something would they come after us?” Darby said. “It was a lot of heartache and we all huddled together. Our family was deeply shocked. We would never have encouraged her to get involved in something like this.

At the time, Darby was not ready to write about tragedy. It wasn’t until she was quarantined at the start of the pandemic in 2020 that she collected all the newspaper articles and books about her sister’s murder that she had collected, to write a book.

She was also motivated to tell the story from the family’s perspective after reading “Season of the Witch” by journalist and former Salon founder and editor David Talbot – which she said contained inaccurate portrayals of his sister.

“When my sister was murdered, it was front page news in the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner for weeks,” Darby said. “Each group came out of the woods to comment on it in the newspaper. I just had to defend it and refute it.

Darby grew up in the Bay Area and lived in San Francisco in the 1970s, before settling with her husband in Tiburon in 1976. She wrote for her high school newspaper and yearbook and became then majored in English Studies at the University of the Pacific, writing for that college’s journal.

She then wrote part-time for Tiburon’s newspaper, The Ark, and took local writing lessons in the 1980s, including from Anne Lamott.

“I wrote some things down and I was like, I can do this,” she said.

Although her siblings were supportive, Darby said, “I wouldn’t have written it when my parents were still alive, because it’s painful – just to spare them more anguish.”

Elizabeth Holmes, a Healdsburg writer and former Marin resident who has been in the same writing group as Darby since 1984, laments that the book was “a trip down memory lane.”

“It captures a time in Northern California that I’m familiar with,” she said. “There is nothing like family ties to get the motivation to clarify the facts. I think she did a really good job of contrasting the way it was reported, with her experience of the people involved.