The Real Truth About John Lang’s Tragic Death in Fresno, CA

On the evening of January 16th, 2016, Fresno, CA resident John Lang posted this eerie message on Facebook. 

Less than 4 days later he was found dead. 

On January 20th, 2016 neighbors noticed John Lang’s home was on fire and flagged down a Fire Truck that just happened to be on a call several doors down from John’s home.

John Lang was found bleeding and unconscious in the back of his home by firefighters, who had to break through his wrought iron gate and then go through doors, which were heavily secured and even barricaded from inside.

Local news station, ABC 30, reported that investigators had called his death suspicious and his house was intentionally set on fire.

Was it suicide… or Murder? 

Could the Fresno Police Department be the reason behind his death?



Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, John Lang was a long-time resident of Fresno, CA. 

John was married to a woman named Alma, whom he had a daughter with. Alma filed for a divorce from John on August 1st, 2011. They were officially divorced in February of 2012. 

At the time of his death he had been working for Payless Tires and Brakes.

While many stories have John Lang listed as a Marine, or in the Military, this may be due to confusion regarding his username “Lang Marine,” which is based on a Business he created in 2010, under the name “John’s Marine Service”. 

In 2009 John Lang started on his journey of exposing the Fresno, CA Police Department for shady practices, including a scheme he alleged involving running license plates of shoppers in lower income neighborhood shopping centers, and then waiting for those shoppers to leave the stores before pulling them over for violations they found during their scans.

This practice, according to John, was a way the police department would optimize ticket revenues at a very minimal expense.  

In his own words, John believed this scheme generated millions of dollars in revenue by local Fresno Law Enforcement agencies. A “Pattern of practice” that is still in use today.

John Lang was posting this information on the Fresno Bee, which he believes was monitored by a Fresno Bee employee, by the name of “Jody Murray”.

Jody Murray was allegedly sending this data to a known Sheriff Sergeant who went under the name “hikerdude67” or hikerdude1967”.

He alleged that the IP addresses of users who were critical of Fresno Law Enforcement and the city of Fresno were given to this officer, who he later identified as Jared L McCormick, a Fresno County Sheriff Sergeant.

John Lang posted that “approximately in April or May of 2014 I received a call from a person to look at a jet ski that I placed on sale on CraigsList. 

Three people showed up for this appointment. One had all the mannerisms and personality of a Law Enforcement person. 

He was tall with an average build and short cropped blonde hair and based on his mannerism I believe this person was Fresno Sheriff personnel. 

The other one, surprisingly, was Jody Murray. However, at the time I did not realize he was Jody Murray. The third person was a younger male, slightly heavy set and riding a newer modern motorcycle.”

John Lang believed that local law enforcement had not only put a tracker on his car, but also bugged his phones, because they always knew where to find him and often followed him around town. 

It was around this time, in 2015, that John Lang decided to file a complaint with the Fresno PD’s Internal Affairs department, for harassment against the Fresno PD. 

Not long after he filed the complaint, John stated that the Fresno PD began increasing their harassment and intimidation campaign for several months.

While it’s easy for many to dismiss the allegations by John Lang, it’s well known fact that Fresno Police Department has a dark past when it comes to Corruption and crimes.

During prohibition it was well known that Fresno was the wettest county in the state and perhaps the entire country.

A network of people in high positions of power, from the mayor to around a quarter of the police department, including the police chief were involved in keeping liquor flowing throughout. An investigation put a stop to that. While 13 defendants were eventually busted, the mayor and police chief were untouched.


On top of that, the KKK was well known in Fresno and a raid of the Inglewood KKK headquarters found a list that included the names of at least 6 Fresno police officers.

From the 1930s until 1950 the Fresno Police chief was Ray Wallace. He controlled gambling and prostitution in the city. 

He was eventually caught and ended up in prison, as well as losing 1700 acres of land. 

Then came Hank Morton who took over for Wallace, including gambling and prostitution. And after being fired, then reinstated, he faced federal investigations that led to no charges. 

Fresno Police Chief Hank Morton

Larry Miller, a federal agent, said “It was a rotten town with a rotten police force. And the citizens didn’t mind. Their indifference was practically suffocating.”

In the 1970’s there were three separate federal organized crime task forces that investigated the FRESNO Police Department. Although no charges occurred, the probes did lead to a reorganization of the department. 

And the list goes on and on. There are so many cases and investigations into Fresno law enforcement that we would have to create an entire video about it. 

It’s safe to say that Fresno could be one of the most corrupt cities and PD’s in the nation.

Between the years 2010 and 2019 there were 189 lawsuits against the Fresno Police Department, costing nearly $18 million in litigation claims.

In fact, less than a year before John Lang’s death, Fresno Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster was arrested during a drug trafficking sting by the FBI and ATF. He would spend 4 years in prison, being released in 2020.

But just before that there was another more interesting story, about Fresno Police Lieutenant, Jose Moralez, who was on the force for 30 years before being found dead in 2004, not far from the home of Police Chief Jerry Dyer. 

In 2004, Jose Moralez, who had been suspended by Police Chief Jerry Dyer for a supposed violation of department policy, went to Dyer’s residence on November 9, 2004, to confront him. This confrontation occurred after Moralez had finished working out in his garage, accompanied by his 13-year-old son. Sadly, this encounter marked the last known sighting of Jose Moralez alive.

According to reports, a motorist discovered Jose Moralez lying face down near a truck, with what was believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chest. This incident took place at that time.

While this information doesn’t prove that the Fresno PD was harassing John Lang, it shows that we can’t simply scoff at the notion that this police department wouldn’t stoop to this level. 

Many people across the nation experience this type of reaction after filing complaints about police officers.

From the time John Lang started reporting these incidents on the Fresno Bee in 2009, until his death in 2016, he shared the incidents on Twitter but was told he was paranoid. 

Then he took matters into his own hands and began to film his alleged harassers on video and then shared the videos on social media.

He began uploading these videos on his YouTube channel, which has a total of 17 videos.

While the videos don’t offer any concrete evidence of harassment or wrong doing, there are several that have created plenty of speculation and theories on Reddit and other websites.

The Carpet Cleaning Van – the most popular video of all. The video shows a man standing just outside of a company vehicle that seems a bit…peculiar. 

The van belongs to a company called Guarantee Carpet Care, a business which is actually based out of Clovis, CA, according to the Better Business Bureau’s listing. It shows that the company’s BBB file was opened in January of 2008, which is important to remember.

As you can see it almost appears that the man looks directly at the camera at one point and then at his house, and some have speculated that he puts the piece of paper on John Lang’s fence or gate.

But did he really do either of those things?

In reality, the video title actually lists the address as the neighbors directly in the video title: 656 N Van Ness Ave

656 N Van Ness ave Fresno CA

If we look at Google Maps we can verify that they were actually parked outside of the neighbor’s home. 

You can also note the white colored fence, whereas John Lang’s fence is black. 

As for his eyes appearing to notice the camera? Well, that’s a bit harder to prove, but it’s more likely that he was looking at the female who had just walked by and the camera shows a close up of his face. Based on the angle and the zoomed in clip, it doesn’t appear that he looks at the camera at all. 

He does look towards the neighbor’s house, as if he is waiting for someone to come home or meet them outside, probably for an appointment.

The second most popular video is, ironically, the one video most people seem to not discuss on Reddit and other sites. 

There is clearly a US Government vehicle sitting outside of John Lang’s neighbor’s home. The license plate clearly shows this. 

Why were they there? In the video it shows they are parked, but there’s no other videos showing the activity of the van.

According to various websites, the license plates for US Government vehicles can give us clues. The G in the G41 preceding the larger characters say this is part of an Interagency Motor Pool System. The 41 represents a ½ ton truck, which seems odd, but that’s what multiple websites tell us this code means. 

Then there’s the 2648P. The P at the very end states that it belongs to the United States Postal Service, which means they could have been there investigating something in regards to the neighbors or something nearby. The neighbors could have had mail stolen and they were there to investigate.

In reality, even if it were the feds, as John states in the video title, why were they there? If they were there to investigate cops they wouldn’t park in front of a neighbor’s home, with Government plates, and wouldn’t they at least talk to him if they were that transparent? He hasn’t ever mentioned them anywhere else. 

But if we go by the codes we looked at, it’s clear the van was a part of the USPS.

Perhaps the most interesting video of all, is the one titled “Fresno PD and Fresno Sheriff informants George and Maxine Ramirez of Fresno Committing Crimes”

In the description John Lang gives a very detailed overview of what’s happening in the video, where his nextdoor neighbors, George and Maxine Ramirez seem to be delaying him in getting back inside his own property. 

He claims that the neighbors were yelling his name, as if they were trying to alert someone, which you cannot hear as the video has no sound. However, the other details claiming they were crowding him and seemingly trying to prevent him from getting back home does appear to be legit. 

John also claims that when he got to his house – the front door lock, his printer and 2 computers had been clearly tampered with. He believes a man using a fake name of Eli Rodriguez of the Fresno Sheriff’s department is at least one of the culprits.

When I tried to find details of the neighbor John claims was a registered sex offender, George Adams Ramirez does appear in several databases, although at a different address. 

Judging by the details given, this man would have been old enough to be in the Vietnam War and, as stated, a big man. 

George Adams Ramirez of Fresno, CA

At the end of the description he repeats the story of Jody Murray, and employee of The Fresno Bee, sharing user data with a Fresno Sheriff Sergeant named Jared L McCormick. The interesting thing that sticks out here is that the Fresno Bee used a 3rd party commenting app called Disqus, which was very popular at the time. 

A quick search reveals that Disqus does, in fact, allow site Moderators to access the email address of each user and the IP address as well. 

Could the Sheriff have subpoenaed the ISP, or Internet Service Provider in order to track down John Lang? It’s very plausible, if they felt that he was causing issues with the way they conduct their “investigations”. You know, their license plate/ticket scam.

Another very intriguing video was one in which a van, in front of John’s house opens the sliding side door and reveals what appears to be a DSLRl camera on a vest supported gimbal or stabilizing rig. This is an interesting one and one incident in which John had believed they used some sort of thermal imaging device, which is just not realistic.

In reality, it appears to be a film crew and the rectangular device is a tablet or screen for the cameraman to view what’s being seen by the camera. The driver appears to be on speaker, possibly waiting for someone to drive by or give directions. They never appear to look anywhere near John’s home. 

While it is very strange that they stopped in front of his home, I don’t believe the Fresno PD hired a professional camera crew to film John’s house. It seems like a very expensive scare tactic when they could have simply pulled up and used their phone or a cheap camcorder.

And if you believe they’d do all of this and use a thermal device at the same time? Well, you’d just be wrong. John wasn’t wanted as a serial killer in a national manhunt.

This might surprise some people, but not all police departments don’t have access to this type of equipment, and the ones that do treat them as gold, only allowing special units to get access to them due to budgets.

They usually only allow SWAT to access any types of special technology, similar to night vision devices. 

Another video shows a man walking his dog and letting the dogs sniff each other. Anyone who owns dogs knows this is pretty common. But at this point John is focusing on ANY type of movement outside of his home. See a pattern yet?

The video titled “Fresno LE Harassment. Multiple bogus investigations to justify harassing and stalking me.” is an interesting one. A man who seems to look directly at John’s house and then walk back to his car. However, let’s use logic here. Why would a police officer dress like a man that was going through hard times, then drive a very beatdown, older Toyota Corolla, simply walk up to the house, look and then turn around and go back to his car?

If anything, I’d be more suspicious of the woman who crosses the street, directly towards 2 (assumingly) unknown men, but he doesn’t seem to acknowledge that person. Maybe he knew the man on the bike and the lady with the stroller?

However, it seems to me that this would be quite a dramatic walk to and from a car just to look at John’s house. 

There are quite a few other videos that, to us, seem more based on paranoia than anything. 

Another shows a truck that pulled up in front of the neighbor’s house, and then one where a group of cops were across the street – which might seem odd, but considering the area, it’s actually not that odd for 4-5 squad cars to pull up to a home where something was reported.

In fact, there’s another video titled “How many Fresno Cops does it take to arrest one guy with a teddy bear?” where there are, unsurprisingly, a lot of police officers on scene. After looking closer, this appears to be at the same location where the cops in the other video were located, just across the street.

Just to keep things in perspective, in a period of 2 years, John had a total of 17 video clips that showed what he believed was law enforcement harassing him. A handful appear to show strange things occurring on what appears to be a fairly busy street in a not-so-great area in a city known for crime.

There’s bound to be police activity in troubled areas. 

The Death of John Lang

On January 15th, John Lang posted the following message on the Facebook page of ABC30’s Corrin Hoggard. 

Later that evening he then posted this message on his own Facebook page.

Was it all part of some elaborate plan, knowing he would commit suicide and leave the world searching for answers, or did the Fresno Police Department actually murder John Lang?

Here’s what we know. 

On Wednesday, January 20th, 2016, at approximately 3 PM, neighbors of John Lang noticed there was smoke coming from John Lang’s home and then flagged down Firefighters who just happened to be a few doors down on separate call. 

The firefighters hurried to the home but had to bust open the gate to gain entry onto the property.

From there they then tried to gain entry through the front door, but it was barricaded shut. They tried a door on the side of the house but it was also barricaded shut. 

Eventually they were able to get through this door before finding John Lang laying on the floor, bleeding, in the back of the house. 

He had no pulse and Paramedics began CPR as he was carried out of the house. He was then rushed to the Hospital where he would be pronounced dead.

Initially Investigators called the death suspicious and they believed the house was intentionally set on fire.

Later investigators found a lot of strange things inside. 

There was a mattress on the floor with a small amount of blood. 

The house was unkempt, with items strewn about. 

Doors were secured with 2×4’s from the inside, which made it extremely difficult for firefighters to gain entry, even with an ax.

A detective stated that the outside cameras were working fine prior to the arrival of the fire department, but that the inside cameras stopped working the day before. 

When they viewed the footage of the inside cameras they noticed John Lang sitting in the living room area holding a large knife. He displayed the knife in front of the camera and then walked with it to another room. 

Later he came back to that camera and appeared to have turned it off. 

While investigators concluded that his death was by suicide, the Autopsy Report stated that his body had 3 puncture wounds to his chest.

There were 2 knives that were taken from John’s home and examined before starting the autopsy.

Of the 2, the most notable is the second knife. A serrated bread knife with a 10” blade, similar to this one, based on the characteristics

It’s definitely a very strange knife to use for suicide or murder. 

While reports initially claimed that there were stab wounds to the back, towards the chest, the final autopsy report clearly states the stab wounds were front to back, midline to the left and slightly downward. 

Basically, directly over the heart.

There were 3 wounds in total, with all 3 puncturing the sternum, but only 2 went through the sternum.

This stab wound was most likely the first. 

One of the interesting details of the autopsy states that there were no tears noted in the black t-shirt, which would correspond to stab wounds on the body. 

Did he lift his shirt up before stabbing himself and then pull it down? There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer here.

“Brown paper bags cover the hands secured by tape” is something that seems odd, until it’s clearly noted that the coroner did this in the hospital to “preserve any possible evidence before his body was transported to the Fresno Sheriff Coroner’s office.”

In the end, the coroner determined that his death was the result of inhalation of smoke and soot due to fire. And that the “manner of death was determined to be a suicide.”

He had no signs of drugs or alcohol in his system.

The Aftermath of Lang’s Death

There doesn’t appear to be any actual pictures of John Lang, which is very odd. While many keep using a photo of a guy in front of a flag, it’s pretty clear this is an edited picture of the Late Show host, Stephen Colbert.

John Lang definitely tried his best to keep his personal details off the internet, which is nearly impossible over the past 15 years or so.

This was most likely due to his paranoia of being watched by law enforcement.

Which leads us back to the question: was his death by murder or suicide?

Our belief is that John Lang killed himself. John was clearly dealing with some issues in the last 7 or more years of his life, which led to his constant focus on what was going on around him, believing that everything going on around him had something to do with law enforcement when it was clearly not. 

Does this mean that he wasn’t being harassed? Definitely not. There was most likely something that helped ‘validate’ his theory in his mind. Probably several things early on. 

But this was also most likely brought onto himself by the constant discussions of what local law enforcement was doing, right or wrong. They probably did look into John Lang and there’s a good chance that some of the people he mentioned in his blog posts had decided to see who he was in real life.

But this does not mean that they killed him. 

The day of his death he called his wife minutes before neighbors noticed his house was on fire. This was most likely a goodbye call to his loved ones.

He had turned his indoor cameras off the day before he died. 

His house was messy and he was sleeping on a mattress on the floor next to his computer and his doors were barricaded shut by 2×4’s. 

While I am not a mental health physician, it seems very obvious to me that these are signs of someone with Paranoid Schizophrenia. 

Suicide is the leading cause of death among people who suffer from Schizophrenia.

John’s entire life seemed to be hyper-focused on seeing things on his camera system that just weren’t there most of the time. 

I believe that while the circumstances surrounding his death are suspicious, the reality is that he set them up to appear suspicious. He wanted people to believe that he was right the whole time, that his years leading up to that point weren’t wasted.

It’s the entire reason we are here.

He most likely had people telling him he was crazy and that he needed to stop. In his mind the best solution was to prove them all wrong, which is why he got his cameras and began to view them constantly starting in 2015.

Again, this is my own theory and you can believe otherwise, but the reality is this is the most logical explanation.

Beyond early reports of stab wounds to the back, which were not reported by law enforcement, the only other ‘proof’ that he was murdered was an initial report of his death being “suspicious”. 

However, the ‘suspicion’ was that the fire wasn’t an accident, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there was someone other than John that started the fire. They were suspicious of the fire being started on purpose.

Besides, if John was barricaded inside and caused firefighters to go from door to door with an ax, looking for a way in, how would another person even escape?

And since neighbors were outside and noticed John’s house was on fire not long after he started the fire, surely the cameras or neighbors would have noticed someone running away?

On top of that, why would there be 3 stab wounds in the same area, with one not going through? If John was attempting to protect himself he would have wounds on his arms or fingers, which is pretty accurate with most stabbing victims.

A person would have stabbed him in the abdomen and/or neck area, not through bone 3 different times, without any defense by John. He would have raised his hands and caused the knife to cut his arms, hands and or fingers.

These are called ‘defensive wounds’ or ‘defense-type wounds’.

None of this happened, yet it’s the reason the coroner used paper bags over his hands since they were covered in soot. This was to see if there were wounds on his hands, which there were none.

John Lang’s death is a grim example of how unchecked paranoia and fear can escalate to the point of self-destruction. 

Lang’s decision to take his own life is deeply tragic, and it underscores the importance of mental health awareness and intervention. 

It’s also a reminder that people struggling with severe fear and paranoia need understanding, help, and support, and that isolation and fear can have devastating consequences.

One thing to note is that while there was a series of events and behaviors that suggest that Lang was experiencing paranoia, it would be inappropriate for anyone but a licensed healthcare professional to diagnose him with a specific mental illness posthumously. 

Paranoid behaviors can be a symptom of a number of different conditions, including schizophrenia, but also various personality disorders, anxiety disorders, and other mental health conditions. 

This case is a reminder of the power of narrative and the way a person’s perspective can shape their understanding of the world around them. 

From Lang’s perspective, he was being targeted and harassed. From an outsider’s perspective, he was struggling with paranoia and fear. 

The truth may lie somewhere in between, or it may be more complicated than we can understand. 

Regardless, Lang’s story is a tragic one, and it’s important to approach it with empathy and a willingness to seek understanding.

Watch our full documentary on John Lang:

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