The End of the Innocence

Bill Boyle and Jeff Miller wheeled into one of South Phoenix's meanest neighborhoods looking to score cocaine. The friends--both white men--had snorted coke earlier that night at the office. Now, they wanted more, and they knew where to get it.

Lino Josytewa had been hanging out that evening, December 21, 1989, at the Coffelt housing projects at 19th Avenue and Pima Street. He'd been living on his own since late last year, after his father threw him and an older brother out of his west Phoenix house. Lino usually slept at crack houses or at friends' places, and carried a few articles of clothing in a bag.

Bill Boyle was due to fly to Massachusetts in two days to visit his wife Lori. She'd been living with her parents there since August because of complications with her pregnancy. Boyle, who worked as a manager at Jeff Miller's telemarketing operation in the East Valley, stayed behind.

Lino had been dealing crack cocaine at Coffelt for three or four months, ever since his dad had booted him out. He sold an average of $300-$400 a night in the projects. He'd also been snorting coke and smoking crack for about a year.

Lino is thirteen.

Miller turned his Ford Bronco off 19th Avenue at Pima Street--the only way in and out of the Coffelt projects. Lino and a friend named Fat Man walked up to Miller's vehicle. In this neighborhood, after dark, white men in cars are expected to be in search of drugs.

Bill Boyle had last seen his wife in November, a few days after his second child was born. He'd left a note on her pillow when he left for Arizona: "My love, I'm leaving without waking you because you had a rough night. I love you very very much and am very proud of you. I'll work very hard so we can have a good life together. You made me so happy these past few days. I love you. Me!!!"

Lino's main source of crack was a man named Bobby. Lino calls him Rock Man. To this day, Lino hasn't revealed Rock Man's full name. He's kept that information to himself, even after more than two months in juvenile jail.

Boyle did the talking that December night. He rolled down the window on the passenger's side and said he wanted a "20-rock," a $20 chunk of crack cocaine. As Boyle and Fat Man haggled, with Lino standing nearby, a black man nicknamed Eight Ball ran up to the Bronco. He grabbed the $20 and disappeared into the night.

Lino was a member of the Coffelt Jets gang. He sold drugs at the projects in defiance of the black dealers who have controlled the trade there since the mid-Eighties. Lino feared his black competitors more than he did the Phoenix police. At five-six and 104 pounds, he needed more than an attitude and quick feet to survive as a dope dealer. He also needed a gun.

Jeff Miller will never forget what happened after Eight Ball took off with the $20 bill. Boyle and Fat Man argued briefly. Miller then saw Lino "fidgeting, with his arms behind his back . . . I saw him take the gun out from behind his back and fire it at our direction three, maybe four times. As soon as I saw him raise the gun, I took my foot off the clutch."

When the phone rang on the afternoon of December 22, Lori Boyle thought it was her husband. "He always called," she says, "three, four, five times a day."

"I noticed Bill slump over," says Jeff Miller. "As I drove around the corner, he fell over on me. I could feel something wet running down my arm, and I saw it was blood."

Bill Boyle had taken a fatal bullet to his brain.

On the morning of December 23, Lino called the Phoenix Police Department from a pay phone and said he wanted to turn himself in. The rumor mill had already churned out his name as the shooter. Lino's drug-selling pal, Fat Man, reportedly had fled to Mexico. "It was a policeman," Lori Boyle says. "After four years of marriage and two little kids, someone calls to tell me I'm a widow at 29."

Residents of the low-income Coffelt projects knew Lino Josytewa by sight.
"I thought it was funny, a little kid like that out there," one says. "I thought he was fourteen or fifteen."

Lino's maternal grandfather died of a heroin overdose in the early Seventies; Lino's sixteen-year-old uncle killed himself three years ago. Lino's older brother sold coke until January, when he was locked up at a juvenile facility for violating probation. Lino's father enjoys getting high when he can afford it. Lino's mother has supported her crack-smoking habit by dealing. For the last few years, she's been living at fleabag motels, at crack houses or with friends.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin