Steve Willock, 28, has lived all but six months of his adult life behind bars. From the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md., authorities Willock commanded one of Baltimore’s largest and most violent gangs, a set of the Bloods called Tree Top Piru, says the Baltimore Sun. From his prison cell, says a federal racketeering indictment, Willock enforced the gang’s rules and oversaw its activities, including violent initiations, witness intimidation and five murders. Twenty-seven other alleged gang members were indicted, including Willock’s girlfriend, Diane Kline, who allegedly his messages to the streets of Baltimore.
Authorities have not explained how Willock ascended to the top of a Baltimore gang even as he remained behind bars. Snippets of jailhouse letters and recorded phone calls portray him as a fearsome leader who called himself “Kanibal Lecktor.” He instructed members, authorities said, to defend the Bloods’ honor through violence. His gang lord persona comes as a surprise to those who knew Willock as “Chu,” a seemingly low-level crack-cocaine dealer in Hagerstown – a small city that has become a magnet for big-city drug dealers. He was so nondescript that police officers who arrested him testified later that they couldn’t remember him. “Our relationship with him was pretty basic,” said a prosecutor who got an 18-year-prison term for Willock in 2004. “He came here from New York, we arrested him, he went to prison. He got out, we arrested him, he went to prison. He got out, we arrested him, he went to prison.” Willock appears to be part of an unlikely migration of dozens, if not hundreds, of young men from New York City. Many of those who relocated during the past decade and a half were involved in the drug trade. “His story is repeated over and over and over again,” said a prosecutor. “Like lemmings, they’re drawn here.”