Details of Disappearance
Sean and his parents, Deborah and Harvey, lived in San Francisco, California in 1984. Harvey was selling video equipment in July of that year and placed an advertisement in a local newspaper.
Deborah was speaking on the telephone to a friend on July 25 when the doorbell rang at their family's apartment. Deborah told her friend that she had to end the conversation, as two men who were interested in the items had arrived at their home. She carrying a leather purse when she was last seen. Deborah, Harvey and Sean have never been heard from again.
One of the Dubs family's neighbors saw an Asian man leave their residence with a box later in the day. The same neighbor observed an unidentified vehicle drive away from the Dubs's apartment on July 26, the day after the family disappeared. The neighbor attempted to follow the car, but she lost the vehicle in traffic.
A man identifying himself as Jim Bright called Harvey's employer shortly afterwards and claimed that the family moved to Washington. The unidentified man terminated the conversation when Harvey's employer became suspicious.
Authorities believe that the Dubs family were victims of serial killers Charles Chitat (occasionally spelled "Chat") Ng and Leonard Lake. Photos of Ng and Lake are posted with this case summary. The men reportedly met through an advertisement in a survivalist magazine in the early 1980s. Lake was a former United States Marine and a Vietnam War veteran. Ng was a citizen of Hong Kong and falsified American citizenship documents in order to enlist in the Marines.
Ng was charged with stealing weapons from the military in 1982 and was apprehended on Lake's property in California later that year. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison and should have been deported to Hong Kong after completing his sentence, but a bureaucratic error allowed Ng to remain in the United States. He was released in 1984 and moved on to Lake's ranch in Wilseyville, California. Lake was a survivalist and the residence was stocked with weapons, explosives and provisions. Ng and Lake began using the ranch as a veritable sex slave compound shortly thereafter.
Authorities believe that the men found their victims at random, as in the case of the Dubs family. The female victims were often videotaped and forced to perform sexual acts for Ng and Lake prior to their murders. The male victims and children were usually tortured before their deaths.
Investigators apprehended Lake after he and Ng were caught shoplifting from a San Francisco hardware store in 1985. Ng fled from officers, but Lake was taken into custody. The men were driving a vehicle owned by a missing person, who was later determined to have been one of their victims. A pistol and a silencer were discovered inside the car.
Lake swallowed a cyanide capsule he taped to the collar of his shirt while in custody. He reportedly told authorities that Ng was his partner prior to his death several days later. Investigators searched Lake's property and uncovered the remains of several victims. Many of the bodies had been dismembered and burned, making identifications of the victims difficult or impossible.
Ng was apprehended in Canada later in 1985. He was convicted of eleven murders in California in 1999 after 14 years of legal wrangling and stalling. Ng's trial was one of the most expensive in California history. He claimed Lake was the actual murderer and has never accepted responsibility for the murders. A receipt in Harvey Dubs's name was discovered at Lake's compound, but the family's remains have never been recovered. It is believed that the Dubses were forcibly abducted from their home and murdered at the ranch.
Ng and Lake are also believed to be responsible for the 1985 disappearances of Jeffrey Gerald, Paul Cosner and Clifford Peranteau. All of them vanished from San Francisco and have never been located.