Jon Lester, man convicted in Howard Beach racial attack that left man dead, commits suicide

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons/DoomDan515

Jon Lester, the ringleader of a 1986 attack on three black men in Howard Beach, killed himself 31 years after his actions left a 23-year-old dead.

According to The New York Times, Lester, who was deported back to England in 2001, died on Aug. 14. He was 48.

On Dec. 20, 1986, Lester spotted a car that had broken down on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach. Michael Griffith, 23, Cedric Sandiford, 36, and Timothy Grimes, 19, were in the car.

Lester, who was 17 at the time, told his friends “there’s n—–s on the boulevard. Let’s go kill them.”

He and about a dozen men piled into three cars and drove to New Park Pizza to chase down Griffith, Sandiford and Grimes. While Grimes managed to outrun the gang, Sandiford was beaten with a baseball bat, tire iron and tree limb.

Griffith also tried outrunning the crew by running onto the belt parkway where he was struck and killed by a car.

Lester, who admitted to beating Sandiford with a bat, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault and sentenced to 15 years in state prison. After his release, Lester moved back to England to live with his father.

His sister, Jayne Lester, told The New York Times that he was haunted by “guilt dreams.”

“He suffered from depression due to the fact that he was wrongly convicted,” she told the Times. “He was just tormented. He was never the same person.”

She added that he “wasn’t a bad person” and that because her brother didn’t “tell on anybody” that “they had to blame it on someone.”

Lester is survived by his parents, two sisters, wife and three children.


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