My name is William Joseph Newport CDCR#K14307, aka “Bongo Bill.” This letter has been a long time coming. I was a homeless man who had a more or less meager form of existence in the town of Mendocino called “The Shadow Folk,” the invisible ones, the dregs of society. I fought not only with drugs and alcohol but a mental illness.
But let me back up just a minute. This letter is not about poor me or how screwed up my childhood was leading me to this form of existence called incarceration. No, far be it for me to say. This is a letter of taking the focus off of me and placing it on the people of Mendocino.
Back on September 7 of 1994 I lost my friend George Nelson who used to panhandle on Main Street in Mendocino down the street from The Melting Pot. Also a sweet dear woman named Annie (an Eskimo Indian tribal member) who lost her baby named Joseph Two Owls (who was my baby).
On top of the many hits of LSD that I took in your lower cemetery mixed with my mental illness, I set four fires.
1. The Melting Pot — I would like to say to the owner I am truly sorry and that I thank my God that not a single person was hurt in any physical way. I am also truly sorry for the money you had to spend on repairs.
2. The McCallum House where I set a laundry bag on fire that did cause damage and could have seriously injured people in both places, meaning The Melting Pot and the apartments on the other side.
3. The little red house across from the health food store where we homeless sat, I am truly sorry for your loss.
4. The lot on Evergreen — I am truly sorry for the damage I cost you.
I would also like to apologize to the homeless people I brought pain and suffering to.
Like I said, this is not a letter for sympathy to the poor homeless mentally ill man who got his 45-Life, but to the fact of the matter, “You Mendonites.”
I've been in here since September 7, 1994 until now and I deserve this sentence. I will die in here and that's a given. I'm not getting out. I don't have any violence on my prison record since that time. It took this death sentence for me to find life. I seriously wish I could have had one of your townsfolk named Louise Mary Ditto to have taken care of me when I was a lad. She stayed with me as my SSI payee until January of 2009. I miss her very badly.
Well, I could go on but I won't. This focus was for you and not me.
William Joseph Newport