Monday, August 13, 2018

It Was Not the Wrench

While on the 2018 Manson Blog Tour we encountered part of a rusty old wrench that was discovered with some partial human remains at the site where Steve 'Clem' Grogan buried Shorty Shea. The question: could this have been the actual wrench used by Grogan that initiated the murder of Shorty Shea? 

We were able to identify the following inscriptions on the wrench: 

Drop forged
10” Heavy Duty

The last of the three inscriptions turned out to be the key to solving the mystery. 

“Also in the 1970s, trade with mainland China began to resume. There had been extensive trade with China from colonial times. Early chinese imports are unmarked or marked with chinese characters. From 1891 until 1949 their production was marked "made in China." but, because of domestic instability in China (the Boxer Rebellion, the Republican Revolution, regional Warlords, Civil War, Japanese aggression, etc.), there was relatively little trade with that country during that period. From 1949 to the mid 1970s there were no trade relations with mainland China. The island of Taiwan, however, became a major source for gee-gaws during the 1960s until it also moved on to pricier electronic items. Taiwanese production from this era is marked "made in Republic of China" or "made in China (R.O.C.)" to distinguish from "Red" China. In the mid 70s, trade gradually resumed with the mainland and their production is marked "Made in the People's Republic of China." In 1978, the United States fully normalized relations with mainland China and their production again became "made in China" while R.O.C. production came to be labeled "made in Taiwan."”

(Country of Origin as a Dating Tool. Coxsackie Antique Center. 2002.) 

 Shorty Shea was murdered in August of 1969. If the wrench had been imported before 1978 it would bear one of these inscriptions: "made in Republic of China" or "made in China (R.O.C.)".

It did not, instead the inscription said "Taiwan". Based upon the website above that means it was imported no earlier than 1978.  

Pax vobiscum


Monday, August 6, 2018

Creepy Crawls

This is not a review of Jeffrey Melnik’s book, Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family.

[Aside: At the outset I have to make a confession. Until about 2002 I had never read a single thing associated with these crimes. I had never read Helter Skelter or The Family. I did watch the made for TV movie back in 1976. That same year, I believe, some friends and I piled into my one friend’s Camaro and drove 30 miles to see Robert Hendrickson’s documentary Manson (for any newbies, that was “Mr. H” around here). Being teenage boys ranging in age from 15-17 we were disappointed, especially with the Manson ‘girls’. It was almost 30 years later that a friend asked me to read Linda Kasabian’s testimony so he could ask some legal questions. He was obsessed. I agreed, assuming it would be about 50 pages long. This confession will become slightly more relevant below.] 

Creepy crawls are one of those things that make the whole aura of the Family, well, “creepy”. In fact, I would argue that the entire horror film aura that lingers around these crimes today is rooted in the creepy crawl. 

“What the Family meant by creepy crawling was at once simple and profoundly upsetting. Leaving their communal home at Spahn Ranch in the San Fernando Valley, the Family would light out for private homes. Once inside, the Family members would not harm the sleeping family members. Instead, they would rearrange some of the furniture. That’s all. Stealing was sometimes part of the agenda, especially toward the end, but it was not the raison d’ĂȘtre. 

No dead bodies, no blood on the wall. Just the bare minimum of evidence that the sanctity of the private home had been breached—that the Family had paid a visit to this family.”

(Melnick Jeffrey. Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family (Kindle Locations 126-130). Arcade Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

It is all rather frightening if you think about it. Someone comes into your house while you are sleeping. They don’t attack you or even rob you. They simply rearrange some furniture, maybe eat some food, leave the door open, let out the dog, turn on the stereo or the TV and perhaps go as far as coming into your bedroom and watching you sleep. It’s an invasion that is almost paranormal in a way. You wake to find that poltergeists crept out of the shadows of your closet while you slept.

Vincent Bugliosi was convinced that creepy-crawls were dress rehearsals for the murders that would follow. Were they? I don’t think so. And how prevalent were creepy crawls? Some suggest they were so infrequent as to be irrelevant. I think they were fairly commonplace. 

How Many Creepy Crawls Were There?

We actually know very little about creepy crawls other than that they happened. According to Ed Sanders, the ‘girls’ made up the name and, while the activity had been going on for some time, they were not called ‘creepy crawls’ until July 1969. (Ed Sanders. The Family. De Capo Press. Pp163. 2002). 

To the best of my knowledge only two witnesses ever testified at the time regarding the subject: Susan Atkins before the Grand Jury and Linda Kasabian at the trial. 



Q: How did you do that? What did you do? 
A: Well, we went out on garbage runs and we went and panhandled and one time one girl and I put on dark clothes and took it upon ourselves to do this -- Charlie had no knowledge of this -- we went out and creepy-crawled. 
Q: Creepy-crawled? 
A: Yes. 
Q: Explain to these members of the Jury what you mean by that. 
A: Moving in silence so that nobody sees us or hear us. 
Q: Wearing dark clothing? 
A: Wearing very dark clothes and move at night. 
Q: Where did you go? 
A: We hitchhiked over into -- I forget the area -- and we were scared to death, it was something neither one of us ever experienced, and wanted to experience it because everybody else in the Family was doing it. 
Q: They were doing what? 
A: Creepy-crawling. 
Q: Entering residences at night? 
A: Yes. 
Q: And taking things inside the residences? 
A: They never actually took anything inside the residence other than money. I never actually saw any money that they got from inside any of the residences. 
Q: You and this girl on one occasion did enter a residence and take some money? 
A: Not a residence, no. 
Q: What was it? 
A: There was an automobile parked on the side of the road. I opened the door and looked inside the glove compartment and saw some credit cards. I reached in and took them.

( Susan Atkins Grand Jury Testimony (Kindle Locations 231-244). Kindle Edition)

To say Atkins had credibility issues would be a vast understatement, I have to admit that. But under her version of the creepy crawl everyone was engaged in creepy crawling, although she only did it one time with a girl the world later learned was Linda Kasabian. And on this one occasion she and Kasabian didn’t actually enter a home. But Atkins clearly conveys the impression that creepy crawls were fairly commonplace as ‘everybody else’ was creepy crawling. 


[Aside: I have deleted Kanarek’s objections and shortened the quote by over half.]

Q: You testified you did not know what was going to happen that night. Did you have any idea what was going to happen?
A: Yes. I thought we were going to go on a creepy crawl mission.
Q: A creepy-crawl mission?
A: Yes.
Q: What is a creepy-crawl mission?
A: A creepy-crawl mission is where you creepy-crawl into people's houses and you take things which actually belong to you in the beginning, because it actually belongs to everybody.
Q: Who told you what a creepy-crawling mission was?
A: Everybody did.
Q: Did Mr. Manson ever tell you what a creepy-crawling mission was?
A: I remember one specific instance where the girls made Charlie a long, black cape, and one of the girls was fitting it to him, and he sort of said, "Now when I go creepy-crawling, people won't see me because they will think I am a bush or a tree."

(Linda Kasabian direct testimony Tate-LaBianca Trial)

A: I thought it was going to be a creepy, crawly mission.
Q (Fitzgerald): Your intent was to go out and steal, right?
A: Yes.
And your intent was to steal and you did not care where, or what you were stealing came from, did you?
A: I was told it was mine to begin with.
Q: And you had been on creepy, crawly missions before, is that correct?
A: Yeah, I guess it was creepy, crawl. It wasn’t roaming into a house, that is what I consider creepy, crawl. 
A: Well, I remember Mr. Manson was not at the ranch; he had just left for Big Sur, and that night I went out with Sadie on maybe what you could call a creepy-crawly mission. 

(Linda Kasabian cross examination Tate-LaBianca Trial)

"Yana told me about "cutting capers" with her friends out in L. A. What they would do was break into some expensive suburban house at night, either alone or in groups, and while making no attempt at secrecy or quiet, take or break anything they wanted to, Yana had gone into homes alone, unarmed, and turned on the stereo or television while she ransacked the house. She said no one ever tried to stop her. They were so "afraid of themselves," she said that they'd just lie frozen in bed thinking, "Oh my God! There's a BURGLAR in the house!"

(No writer attributed. The Road from Gallup to Albuquerque.The Harvard Crimson. December 18, 1969)

Kasabian corroborates Atkins testimony and actually provides us with the date of her creepy crawl. Her acknowledged creepy crawl took place on August 5, 1969 if Manson had ‘just left’ for Big Sur. But while hitchhiking across New Mexico Kasabian expressed to James Brekenridge (the actual author of the Harvard Crimson article, above) that she had creepy crawled several houses, not just one car. She also suggests that all her friends in the group in LA were participating in creepy crawls. 

As I read Kasabian's testimony and statements she is saying everyone knew about creepy crawl missions and many participated. That says they were fairly widespread. 

There are also reports by other members of the Family. 
“At night, he started sending the girls out on what he called “creepy-crawls” slipping into darkened houses while the owners were sleeping and crawling through them, rearranging things. Although it might seem that this kind of game was designed to frighten the people who woke up the next morning and found that things had been subtly shifted in the night, the real purpose was to make the girls doing the crawling face their fear and go beyond it. We began stealing anything we could get our hands on: money, credit cards, traveler's checks, dunebuggy parts. It was all for Helter Skelter, Charlie told us; we had to be ready. We creepy-crawled a couple of houses in Malibu and walked off with clothes and some tape equipment that turned out to have already been stolen from NBC.”

(Will You Die For Me? by Charles Watson as told to Chaplain Ray Hoekstra, Copyright 1978 Renewed Copyright 2010 by Steve Housden)

“Catherine Share:  The Family had been preparing for this. Charlie would take the kids on what he called “creepy crawls.” They’d break into houses and move around the furniture. There were a lot of creepy crawls before the Tate murders. He’d say, “Get your black clothes on, get in the car, and do a creepy crawl.” Tex, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, Clem, Squeaky, and Patricia Krenwinkel—they all went on creepy crawls.”

(Manson: An Oral History, Steve Oney, Los Angeles Magazine, July 1, 2009)

“Charlie began to instruct the older girls in what they called creepy-crawly missions. He would have them dress up in dark clothing that would be hard to spot at night. Then he would send them to random houses with the mission of moving things around unnoticed just to play head games with those he called “the sleeping pigs” or stealing small items to contribute to the coffers. These creepy-crawly missions were not burglaries per se. Charlie said these were training missions, a way to help them overcome their fear and learn to be silent and undetectable. I was never included in these.”


“Still, at the time, I was disappointed about not being included on the creepy-crawlies. While in hindsight, this non-inclusion was the best thing that could ever have happened to me, it was difficult feeling so separate from the group.”

(Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties. Kindle Locations 4884-4888, 4895-4897. HarperCollins. Kindle Edition)

“I went “creepy-crawling” with Linda into homes and garages—an expression that came from me as we practiced and mastered silent entry into places, armed with our knives, and moved about the occupied houses without being detected. Barefoot, in old, dark clothes, deadly earnest, we became expert in burglarizing right under the noses of the occupants. The fear and thrill were exhilarating. I had always liked danger, although it kept me close to hysteria and panic. Furthermore, I felt we were perfectly justified in what we were doing. We were “in the Thought” . . . “in the now” . . . “free from thought” . . . “escaping from a doomed society. . . .”

(Susan Atkins. Slosser, Bob. Child of Satan, Child of God (p. 118). Menelorelin Dorenay’s Publishing. Kindle Edition)

Creepy and crawling but not creepy crawling
“Something big had happened the night before. Leslie didn’t know exactly what it was, but she knew it was part of Manson’s “Helter Skelter” plan. She concluded from the comments she’d overheard in the morning that unlike previous outings, this one had not been a trial run. In the past they had conducted what they called “creepy crawlies.” They would all dress in black and break into people’s houses as dress rehearsals. The point was not to be detected. On the previous night’s venture, confrontation was the point. She was pretty sure people had died. She knew Pat had been included, along with two others of Charlie’s inner circle: Tex and Susan.”

(Meredith, Nikki. The Manson Women and Me: Monsters, Morality, and Murder (p. 280). Kensington. Kindle Edition)

There are even reports that either were or sound like creepy crawls from the victims of the creepy crawl. 

“Lucille Ellen Larsen is the owner of Lucy's Pet Shop, 2524 Hyperion. She claimed to be a close friend of Rosemary.
She recalled Rosemary once making the statement "someone is coming in our house while we're away." Larsen suggested it might have been the children or their friends. Rosemary said she had questioned them and was satisfied it was not the children or their friends. Larsen asked Rosemary how she knew someone was coming into her home. Rosemary replied, "Things have been gone through and the dogs are in the house when they should be outside or visa versa." This was first mentioned prior to 1968. There were reported burglaries at the LaBianca residence yet it is common knowledge that Rosemary left the keys to her car and the house in her Thunderbird, which was usually parked in the rear of the house.”

(Second LaBianca Homicide Report)

“I had been in Arizona doing a film. When I came back, Al told me, “Some people are crawling over the wall, and every night at midnight, they crawl to your house and then they leave.” I thought it had to be some Manson people. So the first night I was back, I waited up and, sure enough, at midnight, they came over the fence. I had a shotgun and so did Einstein Eddy. I told my old lady to fetch Eddy. I saw the Manson people coming across the lawn and I was thinking, “What am I going to say?” I thought of a classic yet profound line I had learned from my earlier movie-extra days: I yelled, “Stick ’em up!” And that worked, just like it did in the movies. Their hands went up.”

(Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 861-866). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition)

 “Most of the Family’s creepy-crawls took place near Spahn Ranch, but sometimes they ranged all the way into upscale neighborhoods, once even creepy-crawling the Bel Air home of Mamas and the Papas’ John and Michelle Phillips.”

(Jeff Guinn. Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson. Simon & Schuster. pp 212. 2013)

“Ed Sanders suggests in the Los Angeles Free Press that Wilson had, in early interviews with Bugliosi, taken a decidedly “mishiga” approach and was making it clear to the prosecutor that he would act crazy on the stand if forced to testify. By his own admission Wilson would not testify because he was scared—and by most accounts the musician had reason to worry. In addition to creepy crawling Wilson’s house, Manson also directly threatened to hurt Wilson’s son.”

(Melnick Jeffrey. Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family (Kindle Locations 2912-2917). Arcade Publishing. Kindle Edition)

“According to numerous reports, they creepy crawled the Malibu home of Doris Day, where Melcher and his girlfriend Candice Bergen had gone to live after leaving their Benedict Canyon house on Cielo Drive, a house soon to be occupied by Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski.”

(Melnick Jeffrey. Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family (Kindle Locations 340-342). Arcade Publishing. Kindle Edition)

There are even tales of daylight creepy crawls.

“Peter Biskind recounts a telling anecdote in his book on the New Hollywood, about Donna Greenberg—a woman who “wasn’t in the business” but who was “clever, wealthy, attractive, and had a wonderful home, with rooms and more rooms for guests, a swimming pool on the beach, and an expansive patio.” As Greenberg later recalled “One beautiful, sunny Sunday morning, I was having breakfast on the patio with my four-year-old, the nanny, my husband, and our oldest son, who was thirteen or fourteen…. We had just had a paint-in, painting our seawall with peace signs, graffiti, that sort of thing. Suddenly the most frightening group of hippies walked onto our patio, stood around and stared at us, wandered through our house. I was petrified, but I didn’t know what to say, and it was also the ’60s, being nice to people who wore lots of beads and jewels and bandannas. There was a piano covered with all the pictures one collects of children and family and loved ones and everyone I knew…. They gathered around the piano and looked at the pictures. Then they walked out, leaving us shaken. They got down to the end of the beach, but they couldn’t get out, and a police car came, and I found myself walking down there and telling the police to let them go, they were my guests. Don’t ask me what the impulse was. It was the Manson family.”

(Melnick Jeffrey. Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family (Kindle Locations 2267-2277). Arcade Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

And then there is this.

“At the end of the sixties I was renting an apartment in the Hollywood Hills and my life was still in chaos. I drank too much, jumped into bed with the worst choices of men and had again gotten fired from my job in advertising.

Grisly stories in the newspapers were about the Sharon Tate/LaBianca killings and one of the murder scenes was only blocks from my apartment. I'd gone to bed early that following weekend and sometime during the night my dog Mickey stood growling at the edge of the bed. I almost turned on a light, but stopped when I heard whispering. The hair twitched on the back of my neck. I slid my hand from under the sheet, grabbed Mickey's hind leg and the dog wiggled in beside me. My heart raced. I listened to the toilet flush, water splashing in the kitchen sink and what sounded like more than one person scooting around on the floor. I pulled the sheet over my face and pressed into the mattress. I lay barely inhaling until there was silence. Even then I didn't move and my heart continued to pound.

When sunrays filtered through the window, Mickey jumped off the bed and I stepped cautiously onto the floor. I entered the bathroom. The sink faucet was running. I hurried into the living room. The front door was standing open. I reached for the phone, but changed my mind. What could I tell police? Maybe I'd left the faucet on and had forgotten to close the front door. Maybe I'd dreamed the rest, or the place was haunted. Maybe my chanting had brought in the demons.

Years later I read Helter Skelter, the story of the Tate/LaBianca killings told by Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor who put Charles Manson behind bars. There's a chapter about the Manson family "creepy crawling" a house. Manson told his followers to go into homes in the Hollywood Hills and crawl around on the floor while turning on water faucets and flushing toilets. Chilled to my very core, I put down the book and paced the room. I knew during a scary night in the sixties, I had been "creepy crawled."”

(Suzanne Tilden-Mortimer. Brushes with Evil. 

Reports of having been creepy crawled by the Manson ‘girls’ almost feels like a badge of honor like the list of those invited over to Cielo on the evening of August 8th or the number of stuntmen who beat up Manson. But I believe creepy crawls happened and likely happened at houses the Family was familiar with as well as random houses. 

Based upon what we know I would go so far as to say creepy crawling had been going on for a while before July 1969 and that it was fairly widespread. I say this with a caveat: notice that aside from Kasabian and Atkins who testified they only went once the other Family members only report the activity of others, not their own creepy crawling. 

What was the Purpose of a Creepy Crawl?

I can see three possibilities here (1.) fun (2.) dress rehearsals for murder (3.) Manson’s first crack at the establishment. 


This where that confession comes in. When I was in college I was in a fraternity. One that more closely reflected the True House than your traditional notion of a frat. In the traditions of the Greek system at my university back then when you wanted a party with a sorority you went through a strange ritual where you stole their composite photograph of the members. They had to come over and sing to get it back and somewhere in there a party was arranged (or visa-versa if the sorority wanted the party). One semester our social chairman, a very nice but passive guy, got severely snubbed by a house. We stole the thing and they didn’t return his calls. In fact, they sent three goons from another frat to get it back. Had a few of us been home that afternoon, that might have gone badly for them. 

The next semester I held that post. I didn’t like sororities and didn’t want parties with them so myself and a couple others came up with a different plan. A plan that started as revenge against that sorority. We called it ‘A Mission’. Our inspiration was Mission Impossible and one guy even played the song on a cassette while we got ready. We would dress in dark clothing. We’d break into the house, rearrange the furniture (maybe even take it outside). Eat their food. Leave lights on. Etc. On the way home we’d have a gay old time imagining their faces the next morning. 

It was fun. The fear-based adrenalin was quite the rush. The absurdity of our actions was the point and we never got caught (although some guys from another house tried to take credit for it so we sent an anonymous letter to the Greek monthly paper, thingy, debunking their claim.).

Could creepy crawls have been just fun? Yes, they might have been part of those things the Family did like dress up in costumes. It could have simply been part of the Magical Mystery Tour.

“The creepy crawl was nothing if not theatrical. The rearranging of furniture and consciousness was devised as a sort of real-world guerrilla stage direction: “Square family members wake up from their nighttime stupor as Family members exit through doors and windows. They look around. On their faces we see that they are questioning everything they have believed in until this point.” In his book on the Doors, Greil Marcus refers to the Manson Family as a “band,” but a “troupe” is more like it.”

“John Waters, whose early films and later sculpture are so indebted to Manson, finds evidence of the creative impulse well in advance of the murders: “Was Manson’s … ‘creepy crawling,’ some kind of humorous terrorism that might have been fun? Breaking silently into the homes of middle-class ‘pigs’ with your friends while you are tripping on LSD and gathering around the sleeping residents in their beds, not to harm them but to watch them sleep…. It does sound like it could have been a mind-bending adventure. When the Mansonites went further and moved the furniture around before they left, just to fuck with the waking homeowners’ perception of reality, was this beautiful or evil? Could the Manson Family’s actions also be some kind of freakish ‘art’?”

(Melnick Jeffrey. Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family (Kindle Locations 6024-6030, 6046-6050). Arcade Publishing. Kindle Edition)

I think an argument can be made that the sole purpose of the creepy crawl was fun, thrills if you will. That is certainly why we did it in that fraternity, not even knowing we were creepy-crawling. 

Rehearsal for Murder

Vincent Bugliosi certainly thought the purpose of the creepy crawls was to prepare for murder. 

“These creepy-crawling expeditions were, I felt sure the jury would surmise, dress rehearsals for murder.”

(Bugliosi, Vincent. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (25th Anniversary Edition) (p. 214). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition)

And Jeff Guinn would certainly agree with Bugliosi. 

"According to Guinn: "Charlie wanted the Manson family — about two dozen mostly drug-addled kids — to believe they had the power to enter anyone's home at any time, without the people inside knowing that they were there. And so, he trained them, two or three at a time, to follow him. He would tell them to dress in dark clothes, they would get in the car and then they would drive to some of the fancier residential areas in Los Angeles.

"They knew some rich people, mostly rock stars. And what they would do is try to gain entrance into their homes — a lot of times doors weren't locked or windows weren't completely shut. Then, while the people inside slept, the creepy-crawlers would stealthily rearrange furniture. They might put the dining room table where a living couch had been. And then they'd sneak out, knowing that when the people woke up and saw how things were different, rearranged, they'd know someone had been there inside and could have done anything they'd wanted — murdered them in their beds. And they'd also have no idea who these people were." 

One of the break-in victims was Michelle Phillips, a member of the Mamas and the Papas, who wrote about it in a book.

Manson was using the creepy-crawls as "a sort of horrible spring training" for what he really intended. And that would most notoriously include the "Helter Skelter" rampage of back-to-back nights of murders that terrorized Los Angeles in 1969. The victims famously included Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, wife of director Roman Polanski.

"Everybody talks about the Tate-LaBianco murders, but I think they miss just how calculating Charlie Manson was in orchestrating the training he thought that his followers needed to carry out real murders," Guinn said on Strange." 

(Christopher Wynn. The Most Frightening Thing About Charles Manson was that He 'Never, Ever
was Insane'. Noevember 20, 2017)

There is evidence that supports this theory. One result of the creepy crawl would have been to diminish fear in the participants. Ed Sanders claims Manson showed the girls how to jimmy locks and slice screens and says Manson used creepy crawls as a teaching method. (same cite as above). 

There also is some indication that murder was the final step in a sort of creepy crawl progression. Atkins told Virginia Graham as much while they hung out together in Sybil Brand. 

 “That would be no problem, Susan said [killing the Hollywood hit list]. It was easy to find out where they lived. Then she’d simply creepy-crawl them, “just like I did to Tate.”

(Bugliosi, Vincent. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (25th Anniversary 
Edition) (p. 440). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition)

The timing of Kasabian’s creepy-crawl, August 5th is interesting. Notice, above, Kasabian’s one creepy-crawl (Atkins in her book says there were others and Kasabian contradicts herself as Yana) is one on one with Atkins, one of the killers, three days before the murders. Then look at Catherine Share’s comment. Every one of the killers went on creepy crawls, which likely was her point. Perhaps your performance under the observation of one of the elite helped determine whether you were ‘ready’. Whether you had sufficiently drunk the kool-aid to commit murder. 

But I don’t think creepy crawls were dress rehearsals. First, that would likely mean Manson was planning murder long before July-August 1969, if we assume creepy crawls were going on before July. Personally, being a proponent of a theory that this was a millennial movement gone bad due to outside threats and the charismatic prophet-leader’s perception he was losing control, I don’t believe the murder planning started long before the murders. The stressors were not there in January or March. It seems to me that everything unravels fairly quickly in July-August due to a combination of two factors: Melcher’s snub and the shooting of Bernard Crowe. 

Maybe Manson did suddenly unveil the creepy-crawl rehearsal after the Crowe shooting but to me the comments above sound like they had been going on for some time (even if they were not called creepy crawls). 

Phase One

I think we can agree that Manson had a miserable childhood. He spent most of his time in the clink. He was separated from his parents and spent little time in a traditional family setting. The bond that comes from that experience is missing and likely he harbored significant animosity towards ‘the traditional family’. An experience he never had and thus didn't value.

Joining ‘the Family’ had a few ‘initiation’ requirements that support this theory. You had to give up all your stuff to the group. You had to break your own family bond by, for example, giving up your children and your name. And, of course, your parents (family) were, according to Manson, responsible for all those hang-ups, fears and ego trips you had that you had to get rid of to reach enlightenment. 

As Ed Sanders put it: “They were into such a trip of mystic transformation that the Family evidently believed that there was an archetypal core personality in each human that could be discovered though acidzap, mind moil, role-playing, bunch-punching, magic, blasting the past and commune-ism. This was the Magical Mystery Tour” (Ed Sanders. The Family. De Capo Press. Pp 27. 2002)

Destroying the family was part of the game. But not the only part. ‘Fear’ also played a role in the process. Manson preached that one came to full awareness through fear. In fact, that was, apparently the catalyst for the creepy crawls: allowing the members to reach that level through fear.

But fear also had a second role. It was a weapon. The attack at Cielo was, according to Atkins to ‘instill’ fear into Melcher. Atkins also rapped with Ronnie Howard about “throwing some fear into the world”. Before the Grand Jury Atkins expanded the concept to the entire establishment. 

Q: Well, you can't ask me any questions, Susan, I'm just trying to find out what happened to the best of your recollection. Did you say why this [the murders] had been done? 
A: To instill fear into the establishment.

( Susan Atkins Grand Jury Testimony (Kindle Locations 741-743). Kindle Edition.)

Fear as both a weapon and a higher consciousness also explains another aspect of that bizarre notion that ‘you really have to love someone to kill them’. If fear is the ultimate level of consciousness then in the twisted minds of these acid casualties the fear they inflicted while murdering someone was raising their victim's consciousness.

“As Virginia understood it, there was this group, these chosen people, that Charlie had brought together, and they were elected, this new society, to go out, all over the country and all over the world, to pick out people at random and execute them, to release them from this earth. “You have to have a real love in your heart to do this for people,” Susan explained.”

(Bugliosi, Vincent. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (25th Anniversary Edition) (p. 127). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.)

Initially, the Family and Manson’s schtick was love, flowers, sex and dope. Manson symbolically tosses guns off a bridge, he gives things away to those who need them. He seeks to rescue the young girls from Haight Ashbury. He sits around singing songs, having sex and rapping about acid-soaked philosophy. In fact, the Family would have been nothing more than another failed 60’s commune had everything ended in December 1968. It’s at that point where things slowly begin to go bad, teetering over the brink by July 1969. 

So, my theory is that the creepy-crawls were not rehearsals for anything but initially they were a sort of light hearted way to attack the family and the establishment and progressed from there rather suddenly when other motives took over. Entering a house late at night and leaving the bizarre calling cards of moved furniture and open doors undermines the sense of security a home provides a family. It unsettles the family. They start locking doors, buying guns and live in fear. In the weird sense of reality possessed by the Family they likely even thought they were doing their creepy crawl victims a favor. 

Creepy crawls, in my opinion, were a way to damage the sanctity of the family by invading the home and to instill fear in the establishment. They were a way Manson could take away from others a piece of what he never had. Call it Phase I of what eventually led to the murderous creepy-crawls of August 1969. 

Pax vobiscum


Postscript: It appears creepy crawls continue decades later. 

“Russian intelligence and security services have been waging a campaign of harassment and intimidation against U.S. diplomats, embassy staff and their families in Moscow and several other European capitals that has rattled ambassadors and prompted Secretary of State John F. Kerry to ask Vladimir Putin to put a stop to it.

At a recent meeting of U.S. ambassadors from Russia and Europe in Washington, U.S. ambassadors to several European countries complained that Russian intelligence officials were constantly perpetrating acts of harassment against their diplomatic staff that ranged from the weird to the downright scary. Some of the intimidation has been routine: following diplomats or their family members, showing up at their social events uninvited or paying reporters to write negative stories about them.

But many of the recent acts of intimidation by Russian security services have crossed the line into apparent criminality. In a series of secret memos sent back to Washington, described to me by several current and former U.S. officials who have written or read them, diplomats reported that Russian intruders had broken into their homes late at night, only to rearrange the furniture or turn on all the lights and televisions, and then leave. One diplomat reported that an intruder had defecated on his living room carpet.”

(Josh Rogin. Opinion: Russia is Harassing U.S. Diplomats All Over Europe. Washington Post. June 27, 2016)

Friday, August 3, 2018

Keeping Faith with the Manson Women

By Jeffrey Melnick August 1, 2018

Every August since 1969, we, as a culture, have taken a deep breath and tried to figure out how we are going to live with Charles Manson. This year marks the first time that we will manage this reckoning without the "wild-eyed leader of a murderous crew," as his Times obituary described him, in the world. The news of two major motion pictures about the Manson family—one directed by Quentin Tarantino and the other by Mary Harron—suggests that we retain our taste for Manson art. These cultural creations range from serious, book-length investigations and extended musical works to seemingly thoughtless shout-outs, which individually serve to undercut Manson's scariness but collectively underscore the cult leader's centrality to American conceptions of race, class, sexuality, and family. Signs of Manson and his followers are far-flung and include writing in blood on the wall, the trope of the sexy-weird female hippie, and charismatic men with beards and "Southern" accents. Every year, we add to this of stock of sounds, images, and stories, as we continue to absorb the Manson-family trauma.

August, 1969, of course, is when members of Manson's Los Angeles-based commune killed Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Voytek Frykowski, and Steven Parent at the home of Tate and Roman Polanski, in Benedict Canyon, and then killed Rosemary and Leno LaBianca the following night, in Los Feliz. I won't recount the details of the gruesome murders; perhaps you've read the prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's true-crime bible "Helter Skelter," from 1974, or seen the television miniseries based on it. Even if you haven't, you probably know the basic details of the crime—the feral hippies, the messages left behind, the off-the-hook race-war motive that Bugliosi developed almost immediately after being assigned to the case and that he convinced so many of us was Manson's true animus. The Tate-LaBianca murders, as the novelist Zachary Lazar has suggested, very quickly moved into the realm of what he calls "contemporary folklore." For decades, we have used the Manson family and its crimes to indict the putative excesses of the counterculture.

I want to borrow from some of the enormous cultural power that Manson has accrued to call attention to the life and work of another key figure in the history of the "family," who also died last year: Karlene Faith. Faith's name probably won't ring loud bells, if any at all. She was a radical-feminist criminologist who spent her career as a teacher and a researcher at Simon Fraser University, in Canada. In 1972, while a graduate student in the history-of-consciousness program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Faith co-founded the Santa Cruz Women's Prison Project. Through this group, Faith came into close contact with three of the Manson "girls": Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Leslie Van Houten.

The fact that these young women are so often called "girls"—in historical narratives, in film, and in fiction—begins to hint at our confusion regarding who they were and how they lived. There was a complex array of women who came to be known as the Manson girls: some were exploited and abused minors, but others seem to have exercised a fair amount of power in the family. The "girls" were vulnerable runaways, pragmatic sister-wives, and terrifying tricksters. But, in the wider culture, the women got treated most frequently as objects of prurient male interest. Thomas Pynchon, in his novel "Inherent Vice," imagines the appeal that the Manson women hold for his character Doc, and to so many other men: "Submissive, brainwashed, horny little teeners . . . who do exactly what you want before you even know what that is. You don't even have to say a word out loud, they get it all by ESP."

The coalition of feminists associated with the Santa Cruz Prison Project treated the women of the Manson family like active subjects—as people who could liberate themselves. The Santa Cruz radicals were there at the invitation of Virginia Carlson, the warden of the California Institution for Women, where Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Leslie Van Houten were imprisoned in the Special Security Unit. These feminists were enacting a profound form of rehabilitative practice. Soon after the end of the trial, the women (and some men) of the Santa Cruz group recognized that the three convicted women would need to see themselves as belonging to a different community—a new family of sorts—that was rooted both in the individual dignity of each woman and in the power of collective support and education. Prison administrators approved a program to raise the consciousness of the imprisoned women according to feminist principles. More than forty years after the experiment was devised and implemented, it is still more than a little shocking that it was approved.

Carlson had to have known that members of the Manson family had been taken up by a range of observers with problematic motives: from Bernardine Dohrn rhetorically offering the family the Weather Underground stamp of approval to Joan Didion shopping for dresses (literally) at I. Magnin to help make sure Linda Kasabian would be ready for her closeup at the trial, it did not take long for an appealing outlaw aura to develop around this hardscrabble bunch. David Felton, who co-wrote, with David Dalton, Rolling Stone's cover story on Manson, in 1970, told me that he and Dalton were prepared to greet Manson as some kind of organic rebel, when they made their trip to interview him in jail. Then they actually met him.

But the Santa Cruz collective, with its commitment to radical social change, seems to have remained untouched by celebrity worship. Karlene Faith was a central figure in this effort and wrote about it in detail in her book "The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten," from 2001, and in a monograph on women's confinement and resistance. For years, Faith embodied restraint, keeping a low profile in her work with the Manson women. Susan Atkins, for her part, was not shy about promoting the importance of Faith's work. Atkins, in her autobiography, writes with deep gratitude about Faith, whom she refers to as a "light in the darkness." Building on the women's-studies curriculum that Faith and her collaborators brought to the Special Security Unit, Atkins was able to develop a new sense of how she had "walked into" her own oppression. Through the intervention of Faith and the other feminists, Atkins experienced a revolution in her mind: "Suddenly I found myself free."

Virginia Carlson, the prison warden, must have been some kind of feminist herself. According to Faith, Carlson wanted to "raise the women's consciousness to a point where they would be able to think clearly for themselves, and recognize how deeply their subordination and rote obedience to Manson had degraded their humanity." From 1972 to 1976, Carlson invited "carloads of graduate student instructors, professors, law students, artists, performers and community activists from throughout the state" to "corrections valley," where they came to teach a curriculum that included studies of women and the law, ethnic studies, creative writing, and radical psychology. (Carlson did pause the program briefly in its first year, after Faith ended a letter to one imprisoned woman with the word "venceremos," meaning "we will overcome." Carlson may have approved of the general goal of consciousness raising, but aligning this closely with Che Guevera was too much.) According to Faith's account, the volunteers were especially affected by the work they did in the Special Security Unit with Atkins, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten. Here they met "three young, attractive, intelligent and unexpectedly endearing and vulnerable women," who appear to have thrown themselves into their studies with great energy. Faith and the others were moved, especially, by the talent that the women displayed in handicrafts and singing (apparently they sang a beautiful, close-harmony version of Buck Owens's "Cryin' Time").

The conversations that took place among the jailed women and their visitors seem to have been wide-ranging and lasting in impact. In addition to the regular instructors, the prisoners had visits from a number of key figures from the emerging "women's music" scene, including Meg Christian, June Millington, Holly Near, and Linda Tillery. They learned about poetry from Judy Grahn and took seminars with the radical writer Paul Krassner and with scholars who spoke on politics, the blues, and women's history. This was not "deprogramming," as it came to be familiarly called in the nineteen-seventies, but, rather, an acknowledgment that a holistic political, social, and cultural education was the most powerful tool to help transform Atkins, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten back into the "independent, promising young people" they had been before being turned into, as Faith put it, "obedient disciples who lost their ability to think for themselves."

In our current era of mass incarceration, it is crucial to remember the example of the Santa Cruz collective. These radicals never lost sight of how the prison system itself was at the root of the whole tragedy. Faith was aware that Manson's patriarchal "dogma was an inventory of the flaws of the society that rejected him and infantilized him as a prisoner without choice or responsibility." Aside from the Santa Cruz feminists, very few in the world of politics, journalism, academia, or popular culture have worried much about the intellectual or emotional well-being of the Manson women. Though Atkins underwent a religious conversion and attracted the notice of some who were putatively interested in her soul, for the most part, these women have never been the object of much public concern—not when they were vulnerable young women and not now, when they are elderly prisoners. (Atkins died in 2009.) The filmmaker John Waters is atypical, to say the least, in his decades-long advocacy of parole for his friend Leslie Van Houten.

Harron's film on the Manson family is due out later this year, and it is, at least in part, based on the work that Faith published in "The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten." This surprised me: not only is the book a sober, theory-driven work, but when I corresponded with Faith, in 2014, she made it clear that she took seriously her commitment to protect Van Houten's privacy. She told me that since publishing the book she has been regularly contacted by "people (usually men, often lawyers) who want to make contact with her, or who want my/her help with a planned film, theatre piece etc." "I reply briefly," she continued, "and turn down all requests." I'm not sure what made her say yes to Harron, but, whatever the provenance of the movie, it gives me hope that we might develop a more enlightened approach to the incarcerated women of the Manson family. With empathy for the surviving family members and friends of those murdered in August of 1969, I hope more of us will join John Waters and a handful of others in agitating for the parole of Van Houten and Krenwinkel. Not only have they paid their debt in time served, but, thanks to Faith, her Santa Cruz colleagues, and themselves, they were rehabilitated a long time ago.

This essay is adapted from Jeffrey Melnick's book "Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family."

Jeffrey Melnick is a professor of American studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Read more »

Thank you to Gloop for the tip

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Lynette Fromme Memoir Published

The Peasenhall Press proudly announces the publication of Reflexion, by Lynette Fromme. In nearly 500 pages Fromme vividly chronicles her life with Charles Manson from the time she met him in May of 1967 to the final arrest of the so-called “Manson Family” in Death Valley in October of 1969. From Venice Beach, to the redwoods around Mendocino, to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, to Topanga Canyon and the Spiral Staircase and Condemned House, to Dennis Wilson’s Sunset Drive mansion, to Spahn’s Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, and finally to the Myers and Barker Ranches in Goler Wash in the Mojave Desert — everything is here in Fromme's reflexion on her extensive travels and experiences with Manson and the like people around him who were “preparing to survive either a revolution, or the static institutions that were systematically trading all of our vital necessities for money."

This book also contains previously unpublished material from Charles Manson, Sandra Good, Mary, Cappy, Brenda, Ruth, Gypsy, Clem, and Katie. 

For more details please visit The Peasenhall Press website at 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Sharon Tate's Wedding Dress

A bit of a stir was created over our POST about the auctioning off of Sharon Tate's clothing due to take place this fall in Los Angeles.

A blog reader with a much better memory than ours sent a link to a 2011 post on another blog telling about a burglary that had occurred at Debra Tate's home.  Among the items stolen was Sharon's wedding dress and a mink coat, both are up for auction.

The entire post can be read Here

Additionally the reader with the great memory sent a link to Colonel Scott's blog who in typical Col fashion wrote about the burglary and posted a video interview Debra did with an LA Fox television station about the stolen items.  Unfortunately the link to the video is outdated but the Col's post predated the other link by a week.  The portion of the Fox article that the Col posted says that Debra was the executor of Sharon's estate, as the Col said this is not true. See the below documents.

As a bit of follow up on our previous blog post a reader asked "Wouldn't Roman have been the beneficiary of Sharon's estate, not Doris and Paul?"

David replied, Roman waived his rights to Sharon's estate.  Here are the documents related to Sharon's estate and the letter Roman wrote waiving his rights.  Link

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Rocky of Ballarat CA

Rock Novak is everything to the ghost town of Ballarat

ROCK Novak is everything to his town.

The caretaker, the judge, the mayor and the sheriff, he is the single resident of Ballarat — a ‘ghost town’ in California’s Death Valley.

Founded in 1897, in its heyday — 1897 to 1905 — Ballarat had nearly 500 residents, and was home to a Wells Fargo Station, post office, school, jail, hotels and several bars.

Read the entire story HERE

THE MAYOR OF BALLARAT from Mickey Todiwala on Vimeo.

The Blog visited Rock and Ballerat on our 2015 tour.  Emmett Harder treated us to a ride up Goler Wash to Barker Ranch and was the best tour guide ever.  Post HERE

Deb, Emmett, Matt, Patty, George, Stoner, St. Circumstance with Rocky behind him and Jon Aes-Nihil

Thanks Amanda (reader in Australia) for the tip!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Roommate Revenge

The Roommates
Between September 1967 and September 1968 Harold True, Allan Swerdloff, Harry Yost and Ernie Baltzell rented a home located at 3267 Waverly Drive, right next door to  3301 Waverly Drive (the future home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca). 

After driving all over the city of Los Angeles on the night of August 9, 1969, Charles Manson settled on Waverly Drive for a second night of Helter Skelter murders. Manson, after parking the car where the car is located in the picture, below right, headed up the True House driveway, alone (to the right in the photograph). At some point he cut across the lawn to the LaBianca house where the murders were committed. 

Some commentators suggest the ‘real’ targets that night were Harold True’s roommates (Swerdloff, Baltzell and Yost) According to this version of events, the three had refused to allow Manson to move into the home in the fall of 1968 and this so infuriated Manson that when the chance arrived, he sought revenge. 

These commentators conclude that Manson, finding the True House empty, only then moved on to house number two. However, for a number of reasons, this theory doesn't seem to me to be supported by the available evidence.

[Aside: Harold True is the primary witness for most of what we know about 3267 Waverly Drive. That's why we call it the True House. However, he is not very reliable when it come to dates. They change from time to time and he gets several of them wrong. For example at the Tate-LaBianca trial he was 'positive' he met Charles Manson in March of 1967 at Phil Kaufman's home in Topanga Canyon.  Kaufman was in jail for another year.]

I would like to thank Deb for doing the initial research for this post and also for inspiring me to do the rest. 

3267 Waverly Drive

Here is how Harold True described the house at one time.


“Our house on Waverly was like Frankenstein’s castle with a strobe light going all the time in the dining room. Such a variety of strange things went on at the house. We all thought that the police knew about us. One time I was going down Sunset Boulevard and picked up a hitchhiker. He told me, “Hey, there’s a great party. Here’s a map.” I said, “I think I can find it. It’s to my own house!” The guy was telling me about my own party. So you figure somewhere on the streets, somebody’s got to get this stuff.”
The True House

(Harold True quoted in Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 3972-3976). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition)

The house, pictured in the photograph above and in that photograph to the upper right, consisted of a main house, rented by Harold True and his friends, a garage and a guest house. The guest house was occupied by Julia Posella. The home was owned jointly, according to deed records, by Julia Posella and Seglinda Joya Posella Bergstrom, her daughter.

The Roommate Revenge Motive

If we assume Helter Skelter was, indeed, the motive that night (I’m not convinced) then, it seems to me, the targets of the attack should be ‘sacrificial lambs’ chosen to further the cause of Helter Skelter. If we assume Manson isn’t stupid I think we also have to assume he wouldn’t murder someone who could easily link Manson directly to the murders. It also seems to me that the event that eventually triggers revenge also has to have been significant. Manson had to be pissed like he was after the Esalen snub and the Terry Melcher snub. Finally, for this motive to work at all the house has to be vacant that night.

The Roommates: A Full House- Two Pair with a Wild Card

The First Pair: Buddy Baltzell and Harry Yost

Ernest (Ernie) “Buddy or Bud” Vern Baltzell

It is likely Baltzell actually was the primary tenant of 3267 Waverly Drive, not Harold True. Baltzell’s name appears in the 1968 phone directory as being the resident of 3267 Waverly Drive. 

Buddy was born in 1940. He attended Hollywood High School where he played football. Upon graduation he joined the United States Army and served in the 101stAirborne. 

According to his memorial page (he passed away in 2007) Baltzell worked as a lithographer for 30 years. His hobbies included skiing, fishing trips, bungee jumping in New Zealand, and ‘hosting the famous West Covina Labor Day Party’.

Buddy 1957
I believe the image at the top of the post was taken at 3267 Waverly Drive while the Roommates lived there. The Roommates are in that picture. Baltzell is on Harold True’s shoulders. True is at the center of the photograph.

My belief this picture is from 3267 Waverly is based upon the fact that after the group separated in September 1968 they never got back together as a ‘foursome’. Specifically, I have found no indication that True ever linked back up to Baltzell and Yost and True and Baltzell are in the image. 

I think it was probable that Baltzell and Yost distanced themselves from the whole Waverly Drive scenario very quickly after the murders and their connection came to light. I found it odd that I was unable to find any indication that any of the Roommates except Harold True were ever interviewed by LAPD. I assume that they were but none testified to my knowledge and none are mentioned in the tomes, except by True. 

Harry Yost

Unfortunately, I was unable to find much information about Harry Yost. 

He attended Hollywood High School with Baltzell. He also played football with Baltzell as he
appears in this picture of the football team with Baltzell (whose name is misspelled as ‘Batzell’). Unfortunately, they decided in 1957 to simply alphabetize the names of the players and not indicate who is who in the picture. 

Yost also receives a brief mention on Bud Baltzell’s memorial page in a letter posted there by a friend, discussing a few memories. 

“Harry Yost and the Hawaiian princess, towing a car in Mexico only to lose control and have the towed car pass them and crash, pranks big and small and all done in a good natured, ultimately harmless way.”

Who is Yost in the Waverly image, above?
Baltzell, True, Yost?, ? 1962
I believe he is the individual on the right because that person also seems to be in the middle of this picture (left) from 1962, which includes both Ernie Baltzell and Harold True. 

Baltzell and Yost graduated from Hollywood High School in 1958. Baltzell's memorial page says he graduated in 1957 but he is not listed in that yearbook as a senior. Unfortunately, the 1958 yearbook for Hollywood High School is not available on line. 

Eleven years later Yost and Baltzell would cross paths with another Hollywood High graduate: Vincent Bugliosi, class of 1952. 

The Second Pair: Harold True and Allan Swerdloff

Like Baltzell and Yost, True and Swerdloff attended high school together at Birmingham High School
in Van Nuys, California. 

Harold True

Harold True played football in high school and, based upon his graduation picture attended Los Angeles Valley College after graduation. During the time he resided on Waverly Drive True was a graduate student at UCLA. His major was medieval history. I don't believe he ever obtained his PHD. I found no record of it. In Phil Kaufman's autobiography, Road Mangler Deluxe, True is described like this: 

"Harold True is a victim of the ’60s. His experiences with an ongoing battle to fight drug addiction have left him weak, rambling and somewhat bitter."

(Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 3933-3934). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

Here is how True described himself at Waverly Drive.

"Around the time I lived on Waverly Drive, I attended college Monday to Thursday. On the weekend, I’d just go crazy. At the time, I was taking huge amounts of amphetamines. I went to a psychiatrist and told him, “I got a problem. I’m taking amphetamines for college.” He said, “Everyone does that. What do you take, four or five a day? Is your habit that far?” I said, “No. My habit right now is I set my alarm clock for 4:30 a.m., it goes off, I get a glass of water, take 15 Dexedrines and go back to sleep. An hour later, I wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, shit, shower and shave, and go to school. Then in class, I take 10 or 15 more. When I finish at school, I take another 10 or 15.”

(Harold True quoted in Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 3954-3960). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

And here is some of the bitterness.

"I had to go testify at those goddamned trials. And every time I testified, guess whose name got in the papers? I lost a job as a school teacher because of it. One time we noticed that an unusual amount of traffic was passing by our house, and when they came by, they all had their noses up at the window looking at us like we were freaks. To know Charles Manson, you had to be a freak also."

(Harold True quoted in Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 3980-3983). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

True graduated in 1958 and went off to LAVC. Another Manson-related character also attended Los Angeles Valley College a couple years after True: David Gerrold (Jerrold D. Friedman) the man Steven Parent called from Cielo Drive. 

Allan Swerdloff

Allan Swerdloff also graduated from Birmingham High School in 1958. For some peculiar reason Swerdloff's name is misspelled consistently throughout the 1958 Birmingham High School yearbook. Here to the right the 'L" is missing. In another image his first name is 'Alan'.  How do I know it is not me who has the wrong guy? The image to the left, below, from the Van Nuys News correctly identifies him as 'Allan Swerdloff'. Harold True is also in that picture. Given what I learned about these guys it would not completely surprise me if this wasn't intentional. A recurring theme appeared during my research: laughs, pranks and practical jokes. Note Swerdloff's quote about himself in the yearbook. 

After graduation Swerdloff joined the air force with a class mate named Lawrence “Sonny” Diaz. He served one tour of duty and was a medic stationed in the Philippines. 

Van Nuys News July 3, 1958
Upon his return to the civilian world, Swerdloff attended the Los Angeles Trade Technical College where he received an associates degree in technical illustration. He later worked as an illustrator for American Technical Industrial Services. In the early seventies he co-founded a business known as Sunshine Studios. 'Sunshine' reappears a bit later. 

After all this passed into history Swerdloff formed several businesses, the most recent is named Swerdloff Designs. 

Allan Swerdloff date unknown
In the image at the top of the post I believe Swerdloff is at the back left. I base that opinion on the image to the right, which appears on the Swerdloff Designs website. 

Baltzell and Swerdloff each served at least one tour of duty after graduation. In 1958, from what I could find, that would have been either two years (with reserve obligations) or three years and done. That means the ‘roommates’ all would have been ‘available’ to meet by say 1961-62, which fits well with the 1962 photo, above. 

The Wild Card: Phil Kaufman

Without Phil Kaufman there is no connection between Charles Manson and 3267 Waverly Drive. The Roommates likely never meet him.

Most of what we know about Kaufman’s connection to Manson is summed up (yes, there are interviews, too) in his ‘autobiography’ Road Mangler Deluxe. The person who put Colin White (the 'author') in contact with the Kaufman at the outset was Allan Swerdloff. 

"I first came into contact with Phil Kaufman through a mutual friend, Allan Swerdloff. Allan had recommended Phil many times during our lengthy discussions on various facets of the California lifestyle which I was researching for another work—"Califobia: adventures in lala land"—and had suggested that Phil may even be a good subject for a book."

(Colin White in Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 123-125). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition) 

“Special thanks to Allan Swerdloff for his valuable help, patience and friendship through the years and for turning me on to my publisher.”

(Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 62-63). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

Kaufman’s connection to the story starts in about 1962. By then Kaufman knew the Roommates or at least some of them. Kaufman was arrested for trying to smuggle pot into the country from Mexico. He was facing 5-20 years if convicted. He jumped bail ($5,000 put up by his mother) and fled the country. He traveled about Europe and was finally apprehended in Sweden. The whole time he was on the lamb he travelled with a passport obtained using Harold True’s birth certificate. Eventually, he found himself at Terminal Island and in 1967 he met Charles Manson.

According to Kaufman when he was released from prison the wife of a fellow inmate drove him to the home of Al Swerdloff in Los Angeles. 

"When I walked out of Terminal Island prison in 1968, the wife of one of the inmates took me to the L.A. home of Allan Swerdloff, whom I had known before this whole thing had happened. They had arranged a getting-out party for me. A black girl called Janet opened the door, looked at me and said, “Hey, there’s a cop out there.” My homecoming party from prison, and they thought I was a cop!"

(Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 744-747). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

If accurate (much of what Kaufman says is not accurate) that house would have been 3267 Waverly Drive, the True House.

Later, Kaufman drifted to Topanga Canyon and hung around there with the Family for awhile. Harold True claims he met Manson when he went to visit Kaufman at a 'dilapidated house' in Topanga Canyon (the Spiral Staircase?) where Kaufman was staying. The next day True helped Manson move to a 'house in Hollywood' and Manson and 'the girls' spent the night a t3267 Waverly Drive.

How Did The Roomates Meet? 

The two pairs, above, obviously met in high school. I was not able to discover how the four got together but by 1962, from the photograph above, at least Baltzell and True had become friends. True claims he met Kaufman, originally, while he was at UCLA in the early sixties.

"Phil was peripheral to the UCLA scene, but I knew him. We helped each other out when we could."

(Harold True quoted in Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 3941-3942). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition)

While that could be true the problem is, in the same passage, True also says he was at UCLA in the late 60's and we know he knew Kaufman in the early sixties. I the late fifties and maybe the early sixties True was at Los Angeles Valley College. If he spent two years there (it is a Junior College) and entered UCLA after he spent almost eight years as a graduate student at UCLA [Bluto: Christ! Seven years of college down the drain. I might as well join the f--king Peace Corps.]

I think Kaufman may possibly answer part of the question how they met, at least as to Harold True, without actually answering it in Road Mangler Deluxe. True and Kaufman may have been fraternity brothers. 

“I was a student at Los Angeles Valley College on the GI Bill. I joined a fraternity which was full of ex-GIs. We drank too much, if there’s any such thing. (I’ve always said there’s no such thing as “too much.”)”

(Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 333-335). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition.)
Kaufman does not say when he was at LAVC. He does say after serving in the Korean War he returned to Los Angeles in 1957, one year before True graduated from High School. 

The explanation makes sense, watch Animal House or a few Rob Lowe scenes from St. Elmo’s Fire. In a fraternity the ‘old’ guys’ were legend. I know because I was one. Their stories survived from class to class with new initiates learning the fables about the older guys. When the older guys graduated for a few years if they returned the young guys would gather around a keg to hear the stories. When you graduated, if you were in the same locale, you continued the lifestyle with your 'brothers' until jobs, women or worse separated you. There is a bond between 'brothers' that at a younger age I likely would never have broken. If you needed my help I was there. You would do anything for a brother, especially if he came bearing dope, women or beer. Kaufman would be like 'Billy Hicks' in St Elmos Fire to the younger guys. 

The second reason I think this might be right is because the pictures ‘feel’ like a fraternity: booze, women, pranks, practical jokes and a few drugs. At least mine was like that almost twenty years later.  

On the flip side I found no evidence Yost or Baltzell attended LAVC or any sort of college and Swerdloff attended a trade school.

Life at 3267 Waverly Drive

Again, think Animal House. From the quotes above we know acid, speed, pot and booze were ever-present at 3267 Waverly Drive. Kasabian partied there one time in the summer of '68. She and her husband, and according to True, a couple other guys got in because True knew someone who knew someone in her crew. Manson spent the night with 'the girls' one time and several other times he dropped by with 'some guy' who picked him up hitchhiking. 

In his taped interview with Aaron Stovitz True described Waverly as a 'party house'. There was a constant presence of partiers. If you knew someone who knew someone you could get in. 

Q (Keith): And there was Linda?
A (True): Yes. It was the time of the communes.
Q: Did I hear you say it was the era of the commune?
A: Yeah. A lot of communes in the 60's. If you knew one of the people in the communes, you wound up knowing a lot of people.
(Harold True testimony 1977 trial of Leslie Van Houten)

The picture to the right is Ernie Baltzell. It was not taken at Waverly. Look in the background. The pictures of the Beatles from the 'White Album' are on the wall. That means the photo is from sometime after November 1968.

Now, Back to Your Original Programming

Does the Roommate Revenge motive stand up to the evidence? No, it does not. 

Did the Roommates Snub Manson?

A key underpinning of the Roommate Revenge motive requires the roommates to actually disrespect Manson by refusing to allow Manson to join them at 3267 Waverly. This event has to be significant enough that Manson harbored a grudge for about a year worthy of murder. 

True in his interview with Aaron Stovitz says the Roommates refused to allow Manson to move in. However, he also said this: 

"Charlie wanted to come and live with us on Waverly Drive. He stayed for about a week, ten days, but then we said no."

(Harold True quoted in Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 3963-3964). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

Of course this contradicts his trial testimony where he consistently said Manson spent only one or two nights on two separate occasions at Waverly. It also contradicts what True told Stovitz.

But why would Manson carry a significant grudge over this incident? While True testified at Leslie Van Houten’s trial that the house was rented on a month to month tenancy there is something about the stay there running from September 1967 to September 1968 that sounds like a one, year lease to me. 

According to True when he was leaving in September 1968 Manson asked him if he could stay at Waverly and True told him to ask the roommates, who said 'no'. 

According to one version of True’s testimony the other three left in October, 1967.

Q (Bugliosi): These gentlemen you were living with, these three other gentlemen, when you moved out of the Waverly address ln September of 68 were they still living there? 
A. Yes. 
Q: Did they eventually move out?
A: Yes.
Q: Do you know When?
A: October, November of ‘68, right after I did, they stayed about a month.
(, Testimony of Harold True at Tate-LaBianca)

In another version, they left at the same time as True. 

Q (Kay): When you moved out in September of ’68 did your other three roommates move out also?
A: Yes. 
(, Testimony of Harold True at the 1977 trial of Leslie Van Houten)

We know Baltzell, Yost and Swerdloff all left within a month of True or at the same time. So any conversation probably went like this: ‘Sorry, Charlie, but we are all leaving’. This is hardly a rejection worthy of homicide. No one was going to stay there after September, not just Manson. 

Another problem is that I have not been able to find any reference to Manson actually carrying a grudge over this or being angry about it. If the snub was a big deal wouldn’t Harold True remember the reaction? While he mentions the incident in his interview in January 1970 with Aaron Stovitz he mentions it almost in passing and doesn't ascribe any animosity to Manson over it. I could find no mention of this incident by Bugliosi in Helter Skelter.

They Weren’t ‘Pigs’

If you believe the Helter Skelter (HS) motive you have to recognize that the Roommate Revenge motive simply doesn’t fit HS. HS is premised on the murder of rich white people (sacrificial lambs) with clues leading to the African-American community through the Manson prophecy. 

Murdering the roommates is completely inconsistent with this scenario. In fact, had the roommates actually been murdered that event would give those who subscribe to the drug burn motive a plausible explanation for the second night. 

The only thing that says HS about murders at 3267 Waverly Drive is the house. The roommates are a bit older than typical hippies (and three of the Cielo Drive victims) but none of them were established let alone, ‘establishment’. 

True, according to Kaufman and True was a political activist at UCLA. None of them came from money or even had much money. The rent at 3267 Waverly was $265 a month split four ways. That's about $400 each today. Two hundred dollars, it seems, was a lot of money to these guys. 

Q (Keith): You went out there [Spahn] to get your $200?
A: I’m a student; $200 was a lot of money, and I was getting ready to go to Africa. Yes.
(, testimony of Harold True at Leslie Van Houten’s 1977 trial) 

The roommates partied with Manson and Kasabian, smoked pot, dropped acid and likely had sex with the 'girls'. Not only do they not fit the HS target profile but Manson et al knew they didn’t fit the profile. Unlike Cielo Drive or the LaBianca house Manson knew who he would encounter at the True House. 

Harold True did once say the girls didn’t like him because he had college degrees and a shelf full of books. Books and college degrees (there is no evidence Baltzell or Yost attended college and Swerdloff attended a trade school) don’t make you a ‘pig’, money (and position) does.

[Aside: Kaufman has a different explanation for the 'girls' and True: “Harold couldn’t get laid in a whorehouse with a fistful of twenties.” (Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Location 802). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition)]

By any definition of the term 'pigs' that I have seen the roommates were not 'pigs'. That means the target is wrong if HS is the motive. 

I Don't Think This Would Have Been Easy

Under the Roommate Revenge motive 5’3”, 130lb Charles Manson was going to subdue these guys alone, albeit armed with a gun. Once he did he would leave them unattended to go get the hit squad. That would consist of a 140lb Texan on speed and two skinny chicks, none of whom had weapons. 

At the time there would have been two guys in this house who played football and two who did active duty. One was
Baltzell on the ground Sept. '68
101stAirborne. They knew guns. 

Do you really think these guys (right) would wait passively for Manson to go summon two unarmed women and a 140lb speed tweaked Tex Watson? Do you believe he could subdue all three and tie them up, alone, or even with Watson without a fight? 

This wasn’t Leno and a terrified Rosemary LaBianca Manson would have confronted. Imagine how this had to go down: ‘Ok, now everyone, sit here quietly while I go get Katie, Lulu and Tex’. It doesn’t make sense to me that Manson would go after three of these guys alone or even with Watson. This isn't 'an unknown number of occupants' at Cielo Drive. He knew who would be there. And according to the official narrative he would have gone there alone with a pocket full of leather thongs.

And Manson had a gun. 

Baltzell in red
The Roommate Revenge motive is also weakened precisely because Manson did, in fact, have a gun. If his target was the Roommates, Manson knew who he might encounter in this house. 

To pull this off, it seems to me, he likely would have had to have shot one or more of them. Manson carefully avoided being there for the coup de grace at Hinman and Cielo Drive, maintaining until his death a certain exasperation that one could be convicted of murder and never murder anyone. 

I also have to ask, if this is the target, and you know there are three of them, why leave the ‘hit squad’ in the car? You know there are three of them and maybe even more given the parties. Doesn't it make more sense to take everyone. It doesn't make sense to me that he would go alone.  

Roommate Revenge Leads Directly to Spahn Ranch

Killing Baltzell, Yost and Swerdloff because of a snub leaves two very good witnesses for the homicide detectives: Kaufman and especially, Harold True. 

True’s Peace Corps stint was over by June ’69. By September he was living in the back house at the Chandler Boulevard home of Phil Kaufman. He doesn’t have an alibi for August 9-10, 1969.
How long would it take for LAPD to round up Harold True and ask him if anyone had a grudge against these guys? If the disrespect happened at a level to trigger revenge it seems the Roommates would know about it. True would know about it. Since he would initially be a suspect (or fear he was next), he’d probably cooperate. True leads to Manson and Kaufman and Kaufman also leads to Manson. 

While I am cognizant of Harold True’s quote that these people were so stupid they couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the bottom of the heal I find it extremely unlikely Manson would choose a house with such a direct link back to Manson and leave two witnesses behind who could place him at the crime scene on multiple occasions and one who could ID him as having a grudge. 

Remember, Manson allegedly went after Melcher's house, not Melcher. He never went after Wilson or Jakobson. He had bigger grudges against all three. In fact, he didn't go after anyone who had ties to someone who could directly connect him to the crimes. Did he go after locations? Yes. People with connections? No.

They Were Family

Members of 'the Family'? No. But they were friends or friends of friends of Charles Manson. 

From what I can tell by 1970 Baltzell and Yost had flown the coop, cutting off any connection to Manson. By September 1969 True was living at Kaufman's home, and Swerdloff, was still on board. Kaufman also rented a house near his home on Chandler for three of the girls: Gypsy, Sandy and Squeaky. Both True and Kaufman brought attorneys to meet with Manson in jail trying to assist him in getting legal representation. True visited Manson in jail several times. He also maintained that Manson didn't order anything then and throughout his life. 

"This was Charlie’s whole problem. He never told anyone to go kill those people. Charlie’s big mistake was telling them, “You do what you think is right.” If you tell a crazy person to do what they think is right, what are you going to get? Who the hell knows! And that’s what happened."

(Harold True quoted in Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 3969-3971). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition)

In January 1970 Manson sent several of the girls to Kaufman to ask him to get Manson’s music out to the public. Kaufman agreed, raised $3,000 and produced the Lie album.  

To the right is an image of the liner notes from a later CD of that album. It also contains the original notes. Look, there, below the handwritten rambling crap. 

“Produced by phil 12258cal”: that is Phil Kaufman, the number being his inmate number (see image, above). 
 “Sunshine Al”: that is Al Swerdloff, who conceived and designed the cover. Remember Sunshine Studio, above?
“K.A. True”: that is Harold True, who invested part of the $3,000. 

“The Manson record album called LIE was released in 1971 when he was in prison [It was actually March 6, 1970]. I produced the album. The jacket design was taken from the cover of the issue of Life magazine that he was on, and Al Swerdloff just lifted the “F” off of LIFE. That became the cover. Nobody put their real name on the credits on the album. Everybody put their prison number, or phony names like “Sunshine Al” (Al Swerdloff). I’m “Phil 12258 CAL” (you can call me “one-two-two” for short). The album went out but didn’t sell well. We took it up to Berkeley and nobody would carry it. All those radical lefties and radical freedom fighters were up there, but they wouldn’t carry it. That was after Charlie had been arrested but not yet convicted. We pressed 3,000 copies, and the “family” broke in my house and stole about half of them. We did some mail orders. The money was never recouped. Harold True was one of the investors. They never got their money back.”

(Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 817-824). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition)

True and Kaufman also went to bat for Manson during the investigation. They were both interviewed by Aaron Stovitz on January 27, 1970. At the very end of tape two of True’s interview if you listen closely you learn that Kaufman and True are there at the same time, together, and with the same lawyer. True’s attorney can be overheard saying ‘before you speak with Kaufman, I want to talk to you’. 

Kaufman talks mainly about Manson’s music during the interview. Aside from discussing his Terminal Island connection, he never discusses his connection with Manson in 1968. In fact, at one point he dodges the issue (6:22). Later he eludes to his ‘prior association’ but provides no details. It is possible that that was the outcome of the lawyer to lawyer discussion off the record. Kaufman’s attorney may have said that was off limits.

At 12:30 Kaufman challenges Stovitz’ assumption Manson knew anyone was going to Cielo Drive that night. And then at 13:18 he interrupts Stovitz to offer this: “As for Susan Atkins if she told me what time it was I’d have to go check.” At this point Stovitz quits asking questions, although the conversation continues for another four minutes. The interview can be found at  

Immediately before Kaufman, Harold True was interviewed. At 4:40 of tape number 2 True first expresses the opinion that Atkins’ story doesn’t 'sound like Charlie’. He says that Manson isn’t stupid ‘and this whole affair is stupid’. He immediately after offers his unsolicited opinion that Atkins is a "pathological liar". Later, he denies knowing anything about Manson’s philosophy and denies knowing when Kaufman met Manson (which is simply not true). The interview can be found at 

I think it is a stretch to say Manson would go after friends or friends of friends. Both True and Kaufman described Manson in those terms at the time and while there is no interview of Swerdloff available he appears to have supported Manson, initially, as well. 

No One Was Home

The Roommate Revenge motive relies heavily on the fact that no one was home at the True House. In fact, if anyone was home it falls apart completely. Manson, finding no one home upon whom to exact revenge, then crossed the yard to the LaBianca’s. 

The home at 3267 Waverly Dr. was owned in December, 1969 by one Leon Berberian. In the image to the right the property is described as having three structures: a house, a garage and a guest house (line 11). The image is a December 10, 1969 building permit. Berberian's name is misspelled. The Berberians, according to deed records, received ownership on August 21, 1969 from Julia and Seglinda Posella, Julia's daughter.  

In the image below from the 1968 city directory Mrs. A. LaBianca is listed as living in 3301 Waverly and two people are listed as living at 3267: Julia B. Posella and E.V. Baltzell. The second is our Roommate, Bud Baltzell. This is consistent with a main house and a guest house having two different phone numbers. Mrs. A. LaBianca is Leno’s mother. His father’s name was Antonio LaBianca.  

In the 1969 directory Julia Posella is again listed as a resident of 3267, while no one is listed at 3301. Ms. Posella is the mother of Leonard Posella Jr., who appears in the homicide reports as a suspect. 

In 1973 Leon Berberian is listed as residing in 3267 (twice, once misspelled) and Dikram Berberian is listed as the resident of 3301. 

[Aside: Leon Berberian’s name is frequently misspelled as ‘Leno’ by the LAPD and his last name as ‘Berberion’ or even ‘Barbarian’ in various records. The source for Berberian is the deed to 3267.]

The first homicide report confirms the Posella connection: 

“Subject [Leonard Posella] has resided with his mother, Julia Posella, at 3267 Waverly Drive.”

The second homicide report contains this statement: 

“Bruckman [Leonard Posella’s estranged wife, whose name was actually Jean Brockman] informed investigators that while she was married to Posella she can recall seven separate occasions when Posella visited the LaBiancas. Bruckman reported that on each instance when she and Posella were visiting Posella's mother, who lived next door to the Labiancas, Leonard Posella would go to the LaBianca residence and return with either money or whiskey which he said Leno had given him.”

(All homicide report references are courtesy of

The LaBiancas moved into 3301, according to the second homicide report, in ‘late 1968’. Bugliosi in Helter Skelter says November 1968. I was not able to pinpoint the precise date but it was after the Roommates moved out in the September '68 timeframe as True steadfastly maintained no one lived next door while he was at Waverly. Ms. Brockman’s recollection must relate to visits after November '68. The visits could have all occurred in the last month of 1968 or early 1969 and likely happened before May 1969 when warrants were issued for Posella. But this is at least some indication that part of the True House may have been occupied in August 1969. There is no indication Ms. Posella moved out of 3267 Waverly Drive until August 21, 1969. 

But then there are the strange references to  Leon Berberian, the soon to be owner of 3267 Waverly Drive and his wife, Amine and Sosy Sarkasian in the second homicide report. 

“Two composite drawings of a possible suspect were made by Officer Garcia from information supplied by Leno and Amine Berberian and Sosy Sarkasian. Officer Garcia told investigators there was "quite" a discrepancy between the information given by Leno Berberian and that given by Sosy Sarkasian and Amine Berberian. The Berberians and Sarkasian observed a male Caucasian on the lawn in front of the LaBianca residence on Sunday, August 10, 1969 between 1600 and 1700 hours.”

According to the report Leon and his wife, together with Sosy saw someone in the LaBianca front yard on the late afternoon of August 10th. The police ordered a composite sketch made. First, I have to think the date is wrong in the report (August 10th) or who they saw would have been a member of the LAPD. Why do a composite of someone who was standing in the yard after the murders?

I actually had to read this several times because it is a day late. 1600-1700 on August 10this 4-5 P.M. on the day the bodies were discovered. The bodies were discovered in the morning.  Something is clearly wrong, there. 

The Berberians appear to have seen someone in the LaBianca yard on or about the day of the murders, even if the date was inaccurate.  

The Berberians do not appear at any other Waverly address in the 1968 or 1969 directories. Eleven days later they are the owners of 3267 Waverly Drive. So what were they doing in the area on August 9-10? If they were just random sightseers how did LAPD find them?

I believe the answer is they were renting the main house or living there waiting for the August 21st transaction to close. Why else would the very soon to be owners be on Waverly Drive the day before and after the murders? There seems to me to be no other logical answer unless this is one of the weirdest coincidences of all time. 

This suggests that the Berberians were at 3267 Waverly Drive on the night of August 9-10. They spoke to police about their observations on the afternoon of August 10th which is likely the 9th. That means that 3267 Waverly Drive was not vacant on August 9-10, 1969.

If the house was occupied on August 9-10, 1969 then 3301 Waverly Dr. was chosen on purpose, not as a 'fall back' option. Otherwise, Manson would have simply proceeded with his plan at 3267. If some random 'Pigs' were home at 3267 they are as good a target as those at 3301, unless Manson was specifically going to 3301 or specifically avoiding 3267. 

If Manson believed Swerdloff, Baltzell and Yost were still at 3267 (and did not realize the Berberians lived there) then it is likely he purposely didn’t go there. That means he was avoiding 3267, not seeking Roommate Revenge.  

So Why Waverly Drive?

Sometimes, the simplest answer is the right answer: Manson knew the area and the house. 

There are three witnesses to the events of that night, leading up to the decision to go to 3301 Waverly Drive: Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian and Tex Watson All tell a similar story. A story that says Manson was never going to 3267 but was, indeed, going directly to 3301. 

Q (Bugliosi): Well, apart from any assumption on your part did Charlie ever indicate why he picked this particular house? 
A: I thought about that last night and I asked him if it was Harold's house. 
Q: Who is Harold?
A: Harold was the man who happened to have lived in the house next door a year ago previously. 
Q: What did he say to that? 
A: He said, "No, it's the one next door."

( Susan Atkins Grand Jury Testimony (Kindle Locations 891-894). Kindle Edition)

Q: What happened after you stopped in front of this house?
A: I was really surprised that we stopped there and I said something about, "You are not going to that house, are you?"
And Charlie said, "No, I am going to go next door." And he got out of the car and I saw him walk up the driveway that looked like to Harold's house. Then he disappeared. It was dark and bushes.
Q: And he walked up Harold True's driveway?
A: Yes.
Q: And the driveway was to your left rear?
A: Yes.
(, Linda Kasabian’s testimony, State vs. Watson)

Q: When had you been parked in front of that home prior to this occasion?
A: A year before, approximately, in July of 1968.
Q: What was the occasion for your being in that particular location a year earlier?
A: My husband and I and friends were on our way down from Seattle, Washington, to New Mexico and we stopped off in Los Angeles, and this one particular person knew Harold True, so we went to his house and had a party.
Q: Is this the house in front of which Manson told you to stop the car?
A: Yes, it is.
Q: Now, when Manson directed you to stop in front of Harold True's place, did you recognize the spot?
A: Yes, I did right away.
Q: Did you say anything to Manson with respect to this?
A: Yes.
Q: What did you say to him?
A: Charlie, you are not going into that house, are you?
Q: Did he say anything to you when you said that to him?
A: Yes, he did, he said, 'No, I'm going next door.' 
(Linda Kasabian testimony, Tate-LaBianca)

[Aside: Notice, both Atkins and Kasabian take credit for the concerned statement about the True House. There seem to be only three possible reasons for this (1.) either Atkins wanted to take credit for what Kasabian said or visa-versa (2.) someone adopted someone else’s memory by hearing about the statement or (3.) someone was coached. I didn’t take the time to look up whether that statement appeared in the press following Atkins’ Grand Jury testimony.]


“After that, Charlie started giving very specific directions to Linda, as if he had a particular place in mind. Eventually we ended up parked across the street from a large old Spanish-style house at 3301 Waverly Drive, near Griffith Park in the Los Feliz section of town. Apparently Linda recognized a house nearby, because she said something to Charlie about not hitting it. Charlie also knew the other place, having been there for an acid party with some of the Family over a year before, but he told her no, it was this house, the one directly across from us with the boat in the driveway — this was the house where Helter Skelter would fall again.” (Will You Die for Me, by Charles Watson as told to Chaplain Ray Hoekstra, Copyright 1978 Renewed Copyright 2010 by Steve Housden)

All three of the witnesses say the same thing: Manson specifically chose 3301 Waverly Drive. And while none of them have tremendous credibility all agree Manson was never going to the True House. 

“The only two places Charlie knew in Los Angeles were Sharon Tate’s house, which at the time belonged to Terry Melcher, and my house on Waverly Drive.”

(Harold True quoted in Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 3962-3963). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

I think Harold may be right. 

[Aside: Kaufman claims that Manson was looking for Harold True and Kaufman that night. 

“Manson had the La Biancas killed when he was looking for Harold and me. I had previously fallen out with Charlie over his music, and he was after me. That fateful night, Charlie & Co. took some LSD, then came looking for us. They went to my house first, then they went to Waverly Drive where Charlie and his tribe had crashed some parties earlier. But the house was vacant; Harold, Al and Ernie had moved out a short while before. They then went next door and killed the La Bianca couple. It wasn’t just a coincidence.”

(Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 807-811). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition)

I have to say… ah, no. I found absolutely no evidence Manson went to Kaufman’s house that night, as Kaufman claims. An image of his house at 13150 Chandler Boulevard in Van Nuys appears to the right. Do you think Kasabian or Atkins would have forgotten that place? Of course, Manson also knew Harold True was not at 3267.]

So Why 3301 Waverly?

The answer to that may be buried in the second homicide report. 

“Lucille Ellen Larsen is the owner of Lucy's Pet Shop, 2524 Hyperion. She claimed to be a close friend of Rosemary.
She recalled Rosemary once making the statement "someone is coming in our house while we're away." Larsen suggested it might have been the children or their friends. Rosemary said she had questioned them and was satisfied it was not the children or their friends. Larsen asked Rosemary how she knew someone was coming into her home. Rosemary replied, "Things have been gone through and the dogs are in the house when they should be outside or visa versa." This was first mentioned prior to 1968. There were reported burglaries at the LaBianca residence yet it is common knowledge that Rosemary left the keys to her car and the house in her Thunderbird, which was usually parked in the rear of the house.”

[Aside: The statement ‘prior to 1968’ can’t be accurate as the LaBiancas didn’t live there prior to 1968.] 

I’ve always wondered about this comment. As others have noted, it sounds like a creepy-crawl. Where better to creepy-crawl than in familiar neighborhoods. If Ms. Larsen’s report is accurate then perhaps Manson did know the LaBianca house was occupied and chose it because, like Cielo Drive, he knew the layout (or perhaps someone else in the car that evening knew).

Pax Vobiscum


Correction: I stated above that there must be something wrong with the 2nd Homicide Report because the bodies were found on the morning of the 10th. In point of fact, I was wrong. The bodies were discovered on the evening of the 10th of August.