Man convicted in San Francisco torture killing of young couple up for parole

A man convicted in one of San Francisco’s most horrific killings almost 50 years ago is scheduled to go before the state parole board Tuesday – causing a flood of torment at trauma for his victim’s family.

It’s the 17th such hearing Angelo Pavageau has been scheduled to attend after his death sentence was commuted to life with parole in the mid-1970s – a legal twist that has forced his victim’s families to endure half a century of anguish. 

Pavageau’s attorney did not respond to KTVU’s request for comment but in the past an attorney representing the now-74-year-old said he’s admitted his crimes, is remorseful and is rehabilitated. 

"Sadly, what was visited on our family that night in 1974 is an example of how savage and cruel the world can be," said Eric Carlson, who’s older brother Frank was brutally murdered by Pavageau in 1974. 

"The idea that this person could be out on the streets in enough to cause grave concern," he added. 

It’s a case that to some may seem like the distant past. 

It happened during a time of extreme violence in San Francisco, when the Zebra killers and other serial murders routinely grabbed headlines and the city’s murder rate was more than three times that of today. 

But even during the city’s high-water mark of violence, the killing stood out, shocking the conscious of even the most hardened homicide inspectors. 

"It was worst case I worked," retired SFPD homicide inspector Jack Cleary -- now 90 – said in a recent interview with KTVU. 

Even with all the years and cases behind him, Cleary said he still remembers the scene like it was yesterday. 

It began in the early morning hours on April 18, 1974 when an intruder slipped into Frank and Annette Carlson’s home on 24th and Kansas Street on the west slope of Potrero Hill. 

The assailant held the woman at knifepoint – tied up the 25-year-old husband and bludgeoned him to death with a hammer, wood block and glass jar in front of his screaming wife. 

"If that man was picked up and put up in the top of a ten story building and held by his ankles and let go -- he wouldn't have that much head injury," Cleary remember of the grisly scene. 

Unfortunately the violence didn’t stop there. The assailant took Annette upstairs and began a raping and torturing her for the next three hours. After he was finished, he bludgeoned her with a large paperweight wrapped in a towel, breaking her skull and arms as she tried to defend herself. 

He then slit her wrists and set the home ablaze.

"He grabbed some paint thinner. He bought it out, spread it around the house and set fire to the house," Cleary said. 

But amazingly, Annette came to, crawled through the flames and out an upstairs window, where she called for help and was rescued when bystanders heard her screams. 

Cleary worked the high-profile case with his partner Frank Falzon, but finding the killer was no easy task 

"We were getting desperate, Frank and I, we couldn't get absolutely nothing at all," he said as the days passed and their investigation failed to turn up a suspect.  But after days of dead ends, the inspectors had Annette draw pictures of several rings the killer stole and gave them to the local newspapers, hoping for a break 

"We got a phone call from a jewelry store on Market Street, and he says, ‘Inspectors,’ He said ‘I think I can help you out,’" Cleary recalled. 

Sure enough, the clue led to a postal worker who lived on the same block as the couple. Annette identified Pavageau in a lineup, and he was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to die in the gas chamber.

But in 1976, the state Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional and Pavageau’s sentenced became life with parole. And beginning in 1980, he began going before the parole board nearly every year.

So rather than processing their trauma and moving on, the family has to re-live the horror as they advocate to keep the killer incarcerated

"You got to engage and you got to participate and that means living it all over again and that’s the hard part," Eric Carlson said. 

Pavageau’s parole hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. at the California Medical Facility state prison in Vacaville. Frank’s brother isn’t convinced he’s been rehabilitated and wants to protect Annette who’s been mentally scarred for life. 

"I love my sister-in-law very much and I do not think that given the circumstances of the crime she should have to suffer anymore," Carlson said. 

Evan Sernoffsky is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email Evan at and follow him on Twitter @EvanSernoffsky