Jason Minter Wages Campaign to Keep Mother's Murderer Behind Bars
The 1977 South Salem murder of Bonnie Minter spurs new headlines as her son, Jason Minter, fights to keep the man who killed her from being released on parole.
Back in October of 2004, we published Jason Minter’s heart-wrenching account of his mother’s brutal rape and murder, in which he offered up an emotional account of the South Salem crime that he witnessed—along with his sister and her friend—from the next room.
Minter is 43 now, but the details of the 1977 incident, which took place when he was merely 6 years old, are seared into his memory. His mother, Bonnie Minter, brought him to her friend’s house, where Minter’s 3-year-old sister was on a play date. They arrived in the midst of a robbery, which culminated in him being shut into a bedroom while his mother and her friend were beaten, raped, and murdered. The men were caught three days later.
Today, the three men who raped and fatally shot his mother, Samuel Ayala, James Walls, and Willie Profit, are behind bars serving 25-years-to-life sentences. But, since 2002, they have come up for parole every two years and, spurred by the possibility that one of the convicts, Ayala, could be granted parole by the NYS Board of Parole, Minter launched an online petition to build support for keeping the men locked up. As of this writing, the petition has 4,300 signatures and has received considerable media attention from the likes of the New York Post and Daily Mail.
So why the big push this time to keep the murderers locked away when they’ve been eligible for parole since 2002? “Two of them have not been great prisoners… but the worst of them, Sam Ayala, who was personally responsible for my mom’s rape and murder, has done very well in prison and says he has remorse,” explains Minter. “He has people on the outside waiting for him who I know for a fact he’s lied to and told he hasn’t committed a violent crime. They send photographs of his grandkids to the [parole] board and he’s sort of ingratiated himself to the board.”
Minter cannot bear the prospect of Ayala’s release. Whereas until now he and his sister have simply submitted letters to the parole board every two years stating their wish that their mother's murderers be kept in prison, this time they’ve launched a campaign in the form of the petition—and subsequent media attention—and live impact statements.
Minter told the Post that Ayala “laughed about [the murder] as he got into the [getaway] van and joked about his sexual prowess.” He added, “He’s a monster who should never get out of prison.” Thanks in large part to the media attention generated by his petition, Minter is confident Ayala will not be relased on parole. The board will announce its decision later this month.
Back when he published with us in 2004, Minter was cooking up a documentary on the crime, but, after compiling 26 hours of footage, he let go of that pursuit to focus on his newborn daughter and a café he opened in Inwood.
“Our ultimate goal is parole reform, so that violent murderers are up for parole every four or five years, not two,” he says. Minter told DNAinfo, a local news site covering New York City neighborhoods, “To have to do this every two years is torturous.”