Monday, October 24, 2016

ACLU Charles Manson Martin Luther King Jr. Ad

Tell us your gut reaction upon seeing this ad.
Back in June 2000 the ACLU ran this ad in the New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker to raise awareness regarding racial profiling.  There was a psychological aspect to presenting the subject of racial profiling in this manner that involved getting the reader to read the small print and become sympathetic to the ACLU and hopefully contribute funds to that organization.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Answers or Excuses? A Self-Analysis from Tex Watson

"It is wise to direct your anger towards problems - not people; to focus your energy on answers- not excuses."
        - William Arthur Ward 

"He who is good at making excuses is seldom good at anything else."
        - Benjamin Franklin 

The Following excerpts come from Abounding Love- the website dedicated to the Ministries of Charles D. Watson.....

Why the Crimes?  Message From A Former Manson Family Member....

I was 23 years old in August of 1969, when I committed crimes that shocked the nation and sent shock waves around the world. I'm often asked to explain "why" these senseless crimes happened, the difficulty being to answer without justifying them. In an effort to be accountable, that is, responsible for my actions, I offer the following explanation. By no means do these exhaust the reasons, but possibly this will offer a few contributing factors that caused my actions....

OK, so I had never seen this on Tex's website before and I gotta be honest- that opening intrigued me just a bit, so I read it.  I figured that Tex was going to make all the usual nonsensical excuses, and he did. But, he also went a little deeper than just the using religion, and blaming Charlie stuff that you would expect. Today, let us take a look together. Here are a few of the ideas as to why Tex was able to become from a self- analysis written by Tex himself...

Note:All of these quotes were taken from his document. In most cases, I didn't reprint every quote he gave under each Main Idea, but these are the majority of them. Also, all religious quotes added after each Idea were given by Tex himself- that was not my touch. This was the exact format of Tex's document. He listed the specific Idea at top and then put a few quotes or sentences to support the idea under each one. Each supporting quote I selected for the respective Idea is reprinted is in its entirety. These are not parts of paragraphs. This is how he chose to do it...

Tex Did Not Listen To His Parents!    (Honor your father and mother - Ex 20:12a)

I'll never forget my parents standing in the living room begging me not to go to California. I said, " I am 21 and I am going,"  I had never stood up to my parents before in outright rebellion.

The crimes ended up bringing them to their knees, causing devastation, hurt, humiliation and much embarrassment. My siblings were left to hold them up from all the emotional pain, which I so deeply regret."

Tex Says He Suffers From 7 Deadly Sins!  (For the wages of sin is death - Rom 6:23)

It was pride exalting me above the Godly wisdom of my parents. I thought I knew it all. My needs were going to get met one way or another, I never had enough. I was a very lustful person seeking to fulfill my flesh and eyes. Drawn away and enticed by my own desire. Envy was present. longing for benefits enjoyed by others.

My fear of failure caused pent up anger in my heart.

Tex Got Separated From God!   (All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way- (Isa 53:6a)

These sins were the root and effect of my separation from God. I turned from my parents core beliefs and values, shucking off their accountability, thus breaking their hearts.

I was powerless over the effects of my sin, while trying to fill the void in my heart. Unable to control my thoughts and feelings, my life was without restraint, resulting in compulsive behavior.

With the Power of God's love and grace missing in my life, those deadly sins were free to rule, affecting not only myself, but everyone around me.

Tex Made Compulsive Choices!  (Choose this day whom you will serve - Jos.24:15a)

I made one compulsive choice after another beginning at puberty, drinking a beer at 14, and sex at 16 which led to a party life in College.  

Though I worked to save for college, I made foolish choices instead of studying, making the grade and being responsible. I chose to run with the wrong crowd, join a fraternity, have sex, move out West, drop out of College in California, get addicted to drugs and join the Manson Family.

The crimes were simply another impulsive choice while self medicating.

I had a choice to chose life or death. I chose death which brought a curse on a multitude of innocent people. As a result, it has spread to new generations, causing a seed of rebellion to grow.

Tex Lacked Knowledge!  (My people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge - Hos.4:6a)

The crimes were a result of my lack of knowledge. Today, I have the knowledge of the truth that sets one free of deception, the manipulation of others and my own flesh. I believed a lie, resulting in a trail of devastation. 

I was ignorant of so many core things. For instance, the real meaning of love, righteousness, peace and joy; the concept of how thoughts affect emotions, choices of behavior, the wholistic view who I am as a person and the power of right believing, were all things foreign to me.

Tex Was Emotionally Insecure!  (A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways- Jm.1:8)

I became an emotionally insecure person, not accountable to anyone. I was overcome with hurt, frustration, and insecurity. I felt that my significance is based on my importance. It seemed impossible to achieve what was being asked of me. The fear of failure possessed me, causing anger and the eventual murders.

Though my family was reserved when it came to showing affection, I was raised a gentleman. For example I would open the car door for my date. But under the surface I was hurting and fearful, which was the reason for drinking to medicate my pain.

Tex Was Radicalized!  (For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he- Pro.23:7)

When I met up with Manson, I was on a quest for personal significance that I never gained while trying to achieve the goals set for me by my parents. As a young man, I was experiencing an identity crisis. I wanted to matter to someone, to be respected in the eyes of others, to achieve, to earn a sense of value or self-esteem. 

I chose to be loyal to Manson's ideology as a means to attain this goal. I looked at him to bestow on me feelings of significance, instead of returning to my parents dreams in humiliation and failure. I justified violence, never finding my own individual path, nor fulfilling my own goals in life.

I shared a collective belief system with the Manson Family. The ideology seemed feasible as everyone believed it. I experienced a growing commitment to achieve due to group pressure.

Tex was Co-Dependent!  (There is a way that seems right to man, but it's end is the way to death - Pro.14:12)

I was suffering from the debilitating affects of "codependency". I looked for others people approval for a sense of worth and happiness, something that other people could truly not give me. Through peer pressure, I became willing to do anything for the approval of the Family. 

I gave myself to Manson's radical belief's, allowing him to make my decisions. Finally, I became willing to die for him, yielding my life as a sacrifice. I succumbed to his natural charisma, having no identity left of my own. I chose martyrdom behavior, giving my life for foolish beliefs.

Tex Took Drugs! (Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy spirit- Eph.5:18)

It was only 30 days before the murders when I took my first snort of speed, which was the other catalyst. I knew I couldn't carry out Manson's orders without speed., but for two years I already abused marijuana and hallucinogens. 

This allowed my conscious to be overridden so the crimes could be carried out. Still the girls ad I argued whether to go through with it for an hour while driving in the car to the crime scene, but we lost the battle of our minds. Life was not only over for them, but would never be the same for countless others because of my drug use.

On the speed, I became past feeling. But when we returned to the ranch after the crime, I felt my soul had died with the lives I had taken.  

Tex Has Final Words!

But I am going to have mine first ;)

If you listen to this jackass long enough you start to realize that he has been working, for a very long time, trying to figure out himself what the hell is wrong with him. Tex had a life that was much like my own and a hundred other guys I know who grew up in a small town. He had a nice family who owned a small business. He was a popular guy, who was good at sports and was able to go to college. He went through puberty like millions of other guys lol having beer and sex after 8'th grade is not unique. He seems to feel that after being a popular high school athlete, and belonging to a fraternity, The Manson family were the ones to make him feel feel pressure to be a certain way? That really doesn't make any sense. He also mentions having to be judged by accomplishments. Tex seems to feel that the rest of the world gets to play by some special rules. Every situation he explains is something that 90% of young men in America go through growing up. Charlie had a background you could make an argument led him down the wrong path. Not Tex. Sorry, I am not buying it. I have read Tex explain his childhood and teen years, in his own words, in two of his books. He paints a picture for me of a upbringing that was... Average to good.

Look, it takes a very special kind of scumbag to stab a woman in the final stages of pregnancy, and do what he did to those people. What kind of animal goes back for more? You would think he would have been, exhausted, in shock, or at least scared out of his mind after the first night. And this wasn't a shooting either. Bang and its over. This was torture by knife. Very personal and difficult way to kill people. It takes more time and you have to be up close and personal. You have to hear the sounds and see the carnage. If you ask any law enforcement person what the statistics are when a person is stabbed so many times so viciously, they will tell you 90% of the time it is a crime of passion or very personal, and the victim most likely knew the attacker. The struggle, the blood, the sounds of desperation, begging, and slow death. Tex did this to strangers, and then the bastard went back out, and did it again.

Tex doesn't seem to understand why himself if you ask me. He gives every sort of reason in the world and hopes that if he throws enough darts, maybe one or two will stick. The truth to me is, there is no understanding what he did. There is something wrong with him. Tex Watson is one of the scariest bastards on the planet. And what makes it worse, is that you never see a guy like this coming. His life was very normal. Charlie was an older, street talking con. If you weren't smart enough to see his jive, then shame on you. But Tex was the guy sitting next to you in math class. The guy on your baseball team. The one you never think twice about. He looks like one of us.

If you read enough of Tex Watson's site you will see one common theme. Forgiveness. He talks about it, and lists quote after quote about it. Even used the word in the title of one of his on-line books. Tex has made his whole life about forgiveness. To me that can never happen. And, even if Tex does deserve some sort of forgiveness, he sure doesn't get to announce that himself. Tex is a curiosity in a box. He is a life-long psychological study. He is not a human being to me. He knows he has nowhere else to turn, and so is trying to attach himself to God in hopes that can save him. I think that he can try as hard as he wants, but I bet not even God wants this deuche-bag around. But that is just my opinion. Even a Saint shouldn't speak for God ;)  In him I will trust.

But as advertised, I will let Tex have the final words...

There is truly no explanation for these senseless crimes. I understand people who say, "I don't want to hear it." I apologize for the deaths and pain I have caused due to my naive choices for which I take complete responsibility. I'm angry myself that something like these crimes could happen. Today, we hear of mass killings on a weekly basis. My heart is deeply saddened each time, seeing the wake of destruction left behind. What can we do? I have no answers other than God's Word, that says,

 "...if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land" (2 Chr. 7:14).

For the past decades, I've tried to make living amends to the lives I took and the futures that I destroyed in the 60s. I've humbled myself to God, surrendering my life to His will and purpose. I've taken authority over my life, allowing God's power, love and grace to heal, rule and reign in all that I do. I know I can't undo the past, but I do know that God's grace is sufficient for us, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. So let the weak say, "I am strong!" (2 Cor. 12:9,10). 

God bless you all!

- Your Favorite Saint

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Parole Denied

I've just heard from Cielodrive, via email, that Bobby has been denied parole.  He will be able to have another hearing in three years.

There is nothing online yet about the decision.  I will update the post when something becomes available.

Update at

From the Associated Press which seems to have the most detailed article on the denial.

Monday, October 10, 2016

One of Our Own is Gone

Excuse me I am choked up, just off the phone with the widow.  Matt had been bugging me all week,  I was in NY and sent someone up to the house.  Now we know the sad news.

Robert Hendrickson,  Veteran, Filmmaker,  Husband, passed away peacefully while watching television on his couch October 1, 2016.

Robert was a friend of TLB researchers everywhere.  He was a friend of the blog.  He was a friend of mine.

His Oscar nominated film MANSON ended up in many ways his life's work.  When screening it in August we were able to see how amazing a work it really was when the audience applauded in droves.  Robert’s later work, assemble from outtakes, INSIDE THE MANSON GANG, was an incredible revelation as we saw the footage cleaned up and shiny.

This is only the beginning of the post to tell you all the sad news.  Myself and others will add to it as we find out more.

RIP Robert Hendrickson, my filmmaking friend.

Bobby is up for parole this week

Bobby Beausoleil is scheduled to have a parole hearing this week, Thursday October 13th.  Since his last hearing his wife, Barbara, passed away.  This event triggered a move from the prison where he was housed in Oregon back to the California prison system.  He was first sent to Tracy and after a few short months he was moved to the Medical Facility in Vacaville.

I do not know why he is at the Medical Facility.  They do have general population prisoners but the prison is mostly medical orientated.

Bobby has a website that showcases his music and art.  While there are interviews, mostly older ones, the focus of the website is his creativity.  He explicitly states that the website is not for "the unfortunate associations that haunt my past."  Prisoners do not have internet access, the site is provided and run by friends and family.

There is a music page where you can buy his music either by getting a CD or getting a download.  There is an art tab that offers 85 different drawings that can come as prints or be put on merchandise like tote bags, cell phone cases, greeting cards, shirts and even home accent pieces like throw pillows or a shower curtain!

I could not find anything that hints at where the money goes that he presumably makes from sales.  Certainly there is a cost to produce whatever product that is sold but I doubt that he's creating and selling things to break even.  The thought did occur to me that he would like to show the parole board that he can indeed support himself with his music and art so that's why this website offers so many things for sale.  If you remember at Bobby's last hearing he was chided by the board for thinking he could make a living from his creative endeavors and they told him he should have learned a trade while imprisoned.

Bobby also has a Facebook page.

So, what's the general consensus?  Is Bobby going to get his long desired parole, likely to be shut down by the governor like Bruce and Leslie?  Or is the parole board going to shoot him down again and tell him he still has some improving to do?

Monday, October 3, 2016

What Freaked Out Charlie?

 "Something freaked Manson out in early 1969 enough for him to prepare for the end of Western Civilization." (The Family pp.147)

Brooks Poston (Watson Trial):

“Q: While the rest of the family was at Barker Ranch, that is Manson, you and the others, did Manson ever leave Barker Ranch for Los Angeles and then return to Barkers?
A: Yes.
Q: When is the first time he did that?
A: He left in November.
Q: 1968?
A: Yes.
Q: When he returned to Barker Ranch did he say anything about what was happening in Los Angeles?
A: Yes, he said, "The shit's coming down."
Q: Did he say what he meant by that?
A: Yeah, that the revolution, the Black-White war was in the process of happening.
Q: This was in November of 1968?
A: Yes.
Q: Did he leave for Los Angeles several more times?
A: Yes.
Q: And when he returned, what would he say?
A: He also said the same thing; he said that it was really coming down fast.
Q: On New Year's Eve of 1969 did Manson again return to Barker Ranch from Los Angeles?
A: Yes.”

Paul Watkins (Watson Trial): 

“Q: How did it start out?
A: It started out in about New Year's -- as a matter of fact, it was New Year's Eve between 1968 and 1969, that Charlie was down in the city and the rest of the family was up at the Barker Ranch****
Q: Did it happen at or about the time you met somebody by the name of Mr. Crockett?
A: Yes, it did. I will tell you about it. I was telling you I began to get rather disgusted and disheartened with what was going on at the ranch, because it got to be a revolution type scene where everyone was talking about revolution and we were collecting guns and building dune buggies and things like that --
Q: Let's stop this; let's tell us about collecting guns.
When did you start to do that?
A: It was about the spring of 1969”

It has been said that the shooting of Bernard Crowe was the ‘trigger’ that set Manson off, ‘freaked him out’ but Bernard Crowe was shot on July 1, 1969, seven months after these events and two months after Paul Watkins left the family because of Manson’s violent ideas. 

“Q: In late May, was it, 1969, at Spahn Ranch?
A: Yes.
Q: Charlie said, "We are going to have to show Blacky how to do it"?
A: Yes.
Q: Now, when Manson said this, what effect, if any, did it have on you?
A: Had a heck of an effect because I already knew how he had said it. It was supposed to be done and I didn't want to kill anybody. I didn't want to show him how to do it.
Q: So what did you do?
A: I left, left the family and went to the desert.
Q: How long after Manson told you that "We," apparently referring to the family, were going to have to do it, did you leave?
A: That day.
Q: You went up to Barker Ranch?
A: Yes.
Q: You didn't want to have anything to do with helter-skelter?
A: No, I didn't.
Q: Because you knew this would involve killing?
A: I suspected such.
Q: You didn't want to kill anyone?
A: Correct.”

By the middle of January Manson was obsessed with Helter Skelter. By the time the Family moved to the Gresham Street house (Yellow Submarine) from Barker, it would appear Manson was already over the top. 

“In January 1969, Watkins said, “we all moved into the Gresham Street house to get ready for Helter Skelter. So we could watch it coming down and see all of the things going on in the city. He [Charlie] called the Gresham Street  house ‘The Yellow Submarine’ from the Beatles’ movie. It was like a submarine in that when you were in it you weren’t allowed to go out. You could only peek out of the windows.”   Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders . W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

It might be argued that the source of Manson’s ‘freak out’ was the Beatles, White Album. He returned on that New Years Eve, with a copy and made his ‘hep to the Beatles’ comment but on closer examination the Beatles only served to provide a framework for what Manson had already concocted from his Farad (Fard)-Nation of Islam- Book of Revelations-Racist ideas: the black versus white race war. The Beatles only gave it a name: Helter Skelter. They didn’t inspire it. 

“Charles Manson was already talking about an imminent black-white war when Gregg Jakobson first met him, in the spring of 1968. There was an underground expression current at the time, “the shit is coming down,” variously interpreted as meaning the day of judgment was at hand or all hell was breaking loose, and Charlie often used it in reference to the coming racial conflict. But he wasn’t rabid about it, Gregg said; it was just one of many subjects they discussed.”  Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders . W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

“Q: Now, prior to New Year's he used to say the s-h-i-t was coming down fast?
A: Yes.
Q: But this particular occasion he came back to Barker and said, "Helter-skelter is coming down fast"?
A: Yes.
Q: So he substituted the word "helter-skelter" for "s-h-i-t"; is that correct?
A: Yes.
Q: Thereafter it was always "helter-skelter is coming down"?
A: Yes.”
(Brooks Poston: Watson Trial)

There were, in fact, coincidences in the songs on that record, ‘Sadie’ appeared in ‘Sexy Sadie’, the phrase ‘coming down fast’ appeared, ‘piggies’ were ‘whacked’ and the interesting ‘in’ that appeared in Revolution #1 tantalized. But every one of these can be explained by the common parlance or shared beliefs of the time (except ‘Sadie’). 

So what event or events triggered Manson’s freak-out? 

Here are some possible ‘suspects’. 

1. The Assassination of Alprentice ‘Bunchy’ Carter and John Huggins

On January 17, 1969 US Organization members gunned down Carter and Huggins at the Black Student Union meeting in Campbell Hall on the campus of UCLA.

Los Angeles Times, Saturday, January 18, 1969

 The Argument For

Both Carter and Huggins were Black Panthers. Carter was the LA chapter head and Huggins was a senior ‘Captain’. Carter, like many Panthers, was a ‘black muslim’ (The term here means Nation of Islam-influenced: 'Fard-ists'.) politicized and converted in Soledad prison.

The UCLA-Panther connection is present. They were gunned down on the UCLA campus, which happens to be the only Panther shooting (or Panther bodies found) on the UCLA campus, although neither were ‘dumped’ there. 

It would have been well known. Manson didn’t read newspapers and there was a lot of notoriety about this event. Carter was the leader of the LA Panthers and the former ‘Mayor of the Ghetto’ or ‘Mayor of Watts’ depending on what you read. He was also a former high-ranking member of the Slauson street gang and commander of Renegade Slauson a group who could make the Crips, cower.

They looked like they were ready to start a war. Three hours later, ostensibly to prevent retaliation against US, 150 LAPD descended on Huggin’s home and arrested 17 Panthers confiscating a small arsenal of weapons including military carbines and home made bombs. 

The Argument Against

By the time the Family relocated to the Yellow Submarine Manson was already 'freaked'. The murders happened on January 17th. The murders don’t fit Watkins and Poston’s timeline of November-December 1968. 

The US Organization carried out the murders. This was one black militant group against another, the Panthers. This doesn’t fit Manson’s Helter Skelter. Blacks should have been killing whites. 

2. The Strange Case of Frank ‘Captain Franco’ Diggs

Here is how Elaine Brown, one time head of the Black Panthers, describes Diggs: 

“Frank Diggs, Captain Franco, was reputedly leader of the Panther underground. He had spent twelve years in Sing Sing Prison in New York on robbery and murder charges. Now he was Bunchy’s right hand. 

Franco was slightly insane, Ericka had told me. Prison had done it. He thought he had been fed peas in prison that contained small microphones, which, remaining in his body, allowed  guards and police to monitor his life. That was why, even now, he lived so carefully, outright paranoid about everything, especially dirt. He showered at least twice a day and never wore any item of clothing more than once without it being cleaned or washed. He polished his shoes daily, tops and bottoms. The result was spectacular. 

‘You don’t have to be afraid, Sister Elaine [Diggs said]. I would make it so beautiful for you. Other than making love to a Sister, downing a pig is the greatest feeling in the world. Have you ever seen a pig shot with a .45 automatic, Sister Elaine?’”

Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story (Kindle Locations 2636-2638). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

By all accounts Diggs was Bunchy Carter’s ‘enforcer’. His preferred weapon a .45 automatic. He was also the LA Panther with ties to the ‘underground’ which is a nice way of saying he was the one who obtained dope and more importantly difficult to obtain guns like military grade carbines. 

What makes Diggs’ murder strange is the fact no one seems to agree where it took place, when it took place or how he was killed. There is also almost a complete lack of information about the murder and only one mention in the press. Given the FBI (COINTELPRO) was at its anti-Panther pinnacle in late 1968 this event should have garnered more publicity, especially given the claims (by some) that Diggs was killed by his own people. Instead, this is the only record of the event I could find. 

Independent Press Telegram, Saturday, December 21, 1968

Most other mentions of the murder are inaccurate, including Elaine Brown's. Main and 157th is not in Long Beach it’s in West Compton and he was killed on December 19th not the 30th or the first and he was shot twice in the head: 

“Franco had been killed. He had been shot in the head three times in an alley in Long Beach. It had happened earlier that evening [December 30].”  Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story

“The slaying of Frank Diggs in Los Angeles in December, 1968, suggests the same ruthless discipline at work within the Panther party. His lacerated body, with two bullet holes in the chest, was found in an alley.” Who Will Bell the Panthers, James Kilpatrick, The Fresno Bee, June 20, 1970. 

“December 30: Los Angeles Panther Frank Diggs is shot in the head and killed by police agents.” Black Panther Party, Pieces of History: 1966 - 1969

“On Jan. 1, 1969, Captain Franco (Frank Diggs), the reputed leader of the BPP's local underground apparatus, was shot dead in an alley in Long Beach.” The FBI's War on the Black Panther Party's Southern California Chapter

“Franko Diggs, forty, who was a captain in the Black Panther Party, was found fatally shot in the Watts section of Los Angeles on December 19, 1968. No witnesses to the shooting could be found, but the police identified the murder weapon from the bullets as a foreign-made 9-mm. automatic pistol. Almost a year later, when the Los Angeles police crime laboratory was doing routine ballistics tests on eighteen weapons seized in a raid on Black Panther headquarters early in 1969, it was found that one of the confiscated Panther automatics ballistically matched the bullet that had killed Diggs.” The Black Panthers and the Police: A Pattern of Genocide? NEW YORKER, February 13, 1971 by Edward Jay Epstein

Epstein puts an end the discussion by claiming Panthers killed Diggs. His accusation is picked up and repeated by other ‘law and order’ writers at the time. Kilpatrick, above, was the first to make the claim. The problem is no source is cited for this information and there does not appear to be one that I could find. Diggs was Bunchy Carter’s ‘enforcer’. While it is possible US murdered Diggs, a Panther murder, given his connection, seems unlikely. 

The claim is precisely the type of information the FBI would have blared like Joshua’s trumpets and yet there is no mention of Diggs in the newspapers of the time or the FBI files. A Panther hit on a Panther is precisely the type of information the FBI was struggling to make up in 1968. They’d have dropped to their knees thanking the Lord above if they had been handed these ballistics. Instead…..crickets. 

Then again, since I make my living being paranoid, the absence of any Panther rhetoric in response to Diggs’ death at the time or now is highly unusual. Here is what Elaine Brown (not a particularly trustworthy reporter) says. She is typically ‘all in’ on the ‘FBI plot to exterminate the Panthers’. It fills the pages of her book:

"In December of 1968, one of our comrades, Frank "Franco" Diggs, was killed in an alley in Long Beach. We, to this minute, can't trace how that happened. Franco was one of the key figures in the formation of the chapter and probably one of the people closest to Bunchy Carter."

The Argument For

Unless you are a conspiracy buff (I'm not), there is none. 

If you are a conspiracy buff here are a few questions that might make you go 'hmmm': Is this the Panther Manson actually killed? He is essentially a gunrunner and drug dealer. He may have been dumped in an alley (not at UCLA). Why does anyone believe that Manson or anyone else believed Bernard Crowe was a Panther when they knew who he was-a drug dealer? Diggs was killed by a 9mm, isn’t that a Family favorite? Hinman? LaBianca? Where did Manson get his small arsenal, confiscated at Spahn? Wouldn’t killing an actual Panther, especially Diggs give Manson a real reason to be paranoid they were after him?

I was told that because Diggs’ murder is listed as ‘unsolved’ (and given its age, probably closed and destroyed) a request for information to LAPD or LASO will be declined. 

The Argument Against

The murder is too obscure. It gained little notoriety. Even Panthers who were close to it at the time (Elaine Brown) get the facts wrong and again it is a Panther being killed so it doesn’t fit Helter Skelter. 

3. The Murder of Bryan Clay

On December 9, 1968 at 9:40 p.m. three black youths approached 18 year old Bryan Clay on fraternity row on the USC campus and for no apparent reason stabbed him to death. At least that is what Manson likely heard. 
Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, December 11, 1968

Trivia: Paul Fitzgerald represented the murderer. 

USC is a ‘private’ institution. Tuition was high. The student body was drawn primarily from affluent, white families. One fraternity brother described USC like this: ‘We are a white island in a black sea and you have to face it.” 

The Argument For

The murder of Clay fits Helter Skelter. Blacks leave the ghetto and kill whitey. Its timing is right, early December 1969. It is a seemingly random murder (unless you read). It is a black murdering an affluent white young man in a ‘rich’ (Fraternity Row) neighborhood. Because it involved a black man killing a white man it received a good deal of press at the time so it likely was common knowledge. 

It also eerily foreshadows the murders to come eight months later: a knife-wielding killer(s) invades a ‘white bastion’ and murders a wealthy white young man. 

Did this influence Manson? Is that why, despite the multiple guns at Spahn, Manson sent knives? Certainly he should have realized the Panthers were about guns, not knives. Didn’t he know about the Panthers appearing armed at the state legislature? That act, incidentally, spawned the most restrictive anti-Second Amendment (right to bear arms) law in history- a law signed by Governor Ronald Reagan- because openly armed black men showed up at the capital. Guns were the whole point of the Panthers. It stirred memories of ‘armed slaves’ and scared white people. Was he trying to tie the later murders back to Clay? 

Not likely. 

The Argument Against

I’ll leave the arguments for you. 

4. The Times

Of course it could have been the times. Until January 1968 there were no Black Panthers in LA and likely they didn’t even make an impression until a month or so later. Then they were there and a big, scary presence. 

The membership of the LA Panthers was drawn from the Slausons a street gang (the 1968 equivalent of the Crips or Bloods) and went on to demonstrate a willingness to further the revolution ‘by any means necessary’. 

On August 5, 1968 during the Watts Festival commemorating the Watts riots police followed a carload of Panthers to Ham's Mobil Service Station (The Crenshaw Shootout) supposedly because they turned suspiciously into a driveway and then backed out. When three of the four Panthers refused to respond to police commands a shootout followed. By all accounts the Panthers fired first. Three Panthers were killed and two police officers were wounded. 

“If anything, the fact that these Panthers stood their ground and fought the police to the death strengthened the Party’s revolutionary credentials and drew new recruits, including alienated Vietnam War hero Geronimo Pratt.”  Bloom, Joshua; Martin, Waldo E., Jr.. Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party (p. 216). University of California Press. Kindle Edition.

The Redlands Daily Facts, Tuesday, August 6, 1968

Look who was also involved: our friend Frank Diggs.

After this event LA Panther rhetoric became increasingly threatening. The feud also developed between the Panthers and the US Organization that culminated in the deaths of ‘Bunchy’ Carter and John Huggins (and others).

The Argument For 

It certainly looked like a black revolution was imminent. Even the Panthers believed  it was occurring.

“Readers today may have difficulty imagining a  revolution in the United States. But in the late 1960s, many thousands of young black people, despite the potentially fatal outcome of their actions, joined the Black Panther Party and dedicated their lives to revolutionary struggle”.  Bloom, Joshua; Martin, Waldo E., Jr.. Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party (p. 2). University of California Press. Kindle Edition.

The Argument Against

This was a ‘slow burn’ and nothing of any significance happened in November-December 1968 on this timeline. Manson may have seen this all happening and viewed it from the perspective of his apocalyptic hallucination but nothing on the timeline stands out as a catalyst after August 5th.

I do wonder if Manson used the anniversary of the Watts Riots (August 11-15, 1965) as his focal point for the murders but like many of his schemes screwed up the details, getting the precise date wrong. 

“While at the Gresham Street house, Manson had told Watkins that the atrocious murders would occur that summer.  It was almost summer now and the blacks were showing no signs of rising up to fulfill their karma.”  Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders . W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

Something, did, indeed, freak Manson out in late 1968 or early 1969.

“We didn't know when it was happening -- like I'd look out the window and wonder if it was going to happen today, you know -- think what was the quickest way to get to shelter if it was to happen right now.” Paul Watkins. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Approaching 3301 Waverly Drive

Recently I was reading the First Homicide Investigation Progress Reports for both the Cielo and Waverly Drives homicides and I got interested in the layouts of the crime scenes and what those layouts can tell us. 

I would take any opportunity to visit a location associated with a crime I am interested in, and all the more so to the precise locations where the crimes actually happened. But except for the place where Donald “Shorty” Shea was killed near Spahn’s Ranch in late August of 1969 I’ve never been to any of the pinpoint murder locations associated with TLB. (Of course, I’ve been outside all of the places.)

I first went up to the gate at Cielo Drive in 1978. Back then it was the same gate setup as was there on the night of the murders. You could look onto the property and see the corner of the garage. Sometime in the mid-’80s that puny security arrangement was replaced with something more substantial. 

In the early ’90s I was there again with some friends. One of them decided to see if we could get in, so he rang the buzzer. After a minute or so the gate (the big, new one) slowly opened and an attractive younger woman asked what we wanted. When my friend explained that I was a crime writer and wanted to see the property she was polite and friendly but turned down our entry request. 

Of course now there’s nothing to see on that property, its fate being well known. 

Aerial view of 10051 Cielo Drive in 1969

Google Maps view of the current Cielo property (Note the house on the hill to the left in both pictures.)

(I think that somebody should build an exact full-scale replica of the 1969 Cielo Drive property with everything — house, guest house, garage, pool, wishing well, lights on the fence — everything — so that students of the crime can go there and study it. Maybe in a cornfield in Iowa? Build it and they will come.)

The former LaBianca residence, on the other hand, is a different matter. The LaBianca property on Waverly Drive has likewise had a lot of work done to it, but the house, garage, and driveway areas remain largely unchanged. 

The LaBianca residence the morning after the murders there. The LaBianca’s boat is still on the trailer behind their car parked on the street to the west of the property. 

Google Maps view of the LaBianca house today

But a glance at these two above images makes it clear that much work has been done to the front and east side yards of the lot. In front a carport and additional driveway and parking area have been added. And to the east a swimming pool fills the area that used to be the side yard between the house and the property next door that was at one time occupied by Harold True.

There is general agreement regarding what happened immediately after the car from Spahn’s Ranch arrived at Waverly Drive late in the night of August 9-10, 1969: Charles Manson got out of the car and went up the curved driveway to Harold True’s house before cutting over west to the LaBianca house.This scenario is courtesy of star prosecution witness Linda Kasabian and is corroborated by Charles Manson himself. 

At the murder trial Kasabian recalled that after their car parked in front of the LaBianca house she asked Manson, “Charlie, you’re not going into that house, are you?”

“He said, ‘No, I’m going next door.’ 

“He got out of the car. He disappeared up the walkway, the driveway, leading towards Harold’s house, and I couldn’t follow him any longer, he just disappeared.”  (From Linda Kasabian’s trial testimony as recounted in Witness to Evil by George Bishop, page 165)

Manson agreed to this version of events in a telephone call to me in 1998:

“And I went to see Harold [True]. Harold wasn’t there, and I looked over and I seen a light over on the other side, and I walked over there and there was a little dog there. So I patted the dog on the head and I opened the door and there was a dude sitting on the couch. 

“And when I walked in, I said, ‘Oh, hey. Hi.’

“He said, ‘Hi.’

“I said, ‘I didn’t know anybody lived here.’ 

“He said, ‘Oh yeah, we moved in here last week,’ or something like that. ‘Da da da….’

“Tex was — he come in behind me. And me and guy got into a conversation, ‘Wah-wah-wah, roo-roo-roo,’ and I said, ‘Well, you know, I gotta go.’ 

“And then Tex moved in and started talking to him. And I walked on out.

“It didn’t have a fucking thing to do with me.”

Further along in her testimony Kasabian indirectly corroborates Manson’s version of what he did at the two Waverly Drive properties (i.e., check out Harold True’s house and then briefly enter and exit the LaBianca house before coming back to the car) when she was asked, “How long after he left the car did he return to the car?”

Kasabian answered, “I remember we all lit up cigarettes, and we smoked about three-quarters of a Pall Mall cigarette, however long that takes.” (Witness To Evil, page 165.)

That would probably take about five minutes, tops, just enough time for Manson to do what he said he did, but certainly not enough time for him to have done all the things that Charles "Tex" Watson later said he did inside the LaBianca house (got the drop on Leno LaBianca, reassured him, had Watson tie him up, asked about other people in the house, disappeared “for a minute or two” before bringing Rosemary LaBianca into the living room, conversed with the couple, waited with the couple while Watson looked around the house for money, took Rosemary LaBianca back into the bedroom, returned to the living room to bind, gag, and pillowcase Leno LaBianca, went back into the bedroom and did the same to Rosemary, and then finally left the house — See Will You Die For Me?, pages 147-148).

So, by examining a crime scene, even after almost fifty years, one can still gain new insights into what might have happened there. In this case, combining the evident walking distances involved and the time frame established by Linda Kasabian’s Pall Mall, a fair and reasonable person might come to the conclusion that Charles Manson was telling the truth about what he did after he arrived at Waverly Drive on August 9-10, 1969.

The LaBianca house from Helter Skelter

Closeup of side yards of the LaBianca and True houses, showing the side entrance area of the latter directly across the side yard from the east side of the LaBianca residence.

View of the LaBianca house from the east (True house) side

Diagram of the LaBianca house (courtesy of

This present day Google Maps view of the LaBianca and True residences shows that a small building has been constructed in the area that was formerly the western entrance to the True house. 

The former Polanski residence on Cielo Drive is long gone, but the LaBianca house and grounds have survived mostly intact. An examination of this latter property would no doubt prove very enlightening to any student of TLB. The MF Blog tried to gain access to the house as part of their 2016 tour but they were unable to do so. Maybe one solution would be to buy the house. Unfortunately, however, it’s not currently on the market. And in any case, it would take almost two million dollars to close the deal. 

Zillow listing for Waverly Drive house (The address was changed in an effort 
to detract from the notoriety of the house.)

I wonder what would be a better deal — buying the house or building an exact replica in Iowa?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Orrin Monfort Arrested Again

Orrin Monfort, Nancy Pitman and Michael Monfort's youngest son, was arrested yesterday for threatening to kill a 16 year old girl while trying to take her bicycle.  Orrin has a long criminal record dating back 10 years.  He is currently living in Albany Oregon.

You can read the latest article HERE

Nancy Pitman and Michael Monfort were married January 27, 1976.  It was a jailhouse wedding.  All three of their sons were conceived during conjugal visits in prison.  Orrin was born in Napa CA just days after Michael was released from prison, May 4, 1984, for the murders of James Willett in Guerneville CA and Lauren Willett in Stockton CA in late 1972.

Michael Monfort died in prison while serving an 800+ year sentence, July 3, 2005.

There are two previous articles, with video, about the incident involving Orrin Monfort at these links.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Charlie, the Black Muslims, and ZEBRA

"Helter Skelter" is the name of the official motive for the Tate/LaBianca murders.  They were supposed to kick off a race war in which Charlie and his Family would eventually emerge on top.  Those who believe in the "Helter Skelter" theory of motive have questioned where he got this bizarre theory.  Researchers have pointed to the Book of Revelation, Scientology, the Process Church of the Final Judgement, and the Beatles' "White Album."

But another probable influence long overlooked is the ideology of the Black Muslims, aka "The Nation of Islam(NOI)." Their apocalyptic outlook was very similar to Manson's:

    ".... the, primary beliefs of the Black Muslims... were that the black man was morally and culturally superior, and was destined to rule the earth. The sect...  preached that the white race was conceived of devils whose time to reign was coming to an end. It encouraged the reclamation of fallen blacks... through the study of their true history, through striving for economic independence, and by preparation for the Battle of Armageddon which they believed would be the final struggle between good and evil, black and white."
   From Zebra: The True Account of 179 Days of Terror in San Francisco, by author Clark Howard

"the black man was.... destined, to rule the earth"
Charlie said the blacks would emerge victorious in the race war.

"..the white race ... time to reign was coming to an end."
Charlie said the karma was turning, and that blacks would rise up.

" ...preparation for the Battle of Armageddon, which they believed would be the final struggle between... black and white."
Exactly as Charlie prophesied, while the Family hid out in those underground caverns in the desert somewhere.

And almost certainly, Charlie would have had contact with the NOI in the prisons.
The subject of the Black Muslim is brought up several times by Paul Watkins(Family member), Sandra Good(Family member) and Phil Phillips (Charlie's cell mate at McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary).

In Chapter 10 of the Paul Watkins autobiography, My Life with Charles Manson, Manson is quoted as follows: "The heavy dudes, though, are the [Black] Muslims. ...they'll be the ones who bring the shit down. Yeah, it's gonna come down hard... a full-on war."

Curiously, neither of the two standard books about the Family--Vince Bugliosi's Helter Skelter and Ed Sanders' The Family--mentions the NOI link. An oversight, or did someone not want the obvious connections to be made?

And that might be the end of it; 'it' being no more than a passing resemblance to the apocalyptic beliefs of another cult that Charlie had some slight contact with--one influence among many.  Except for one curious fact.  That (depending on how you look at it)  Helter Skelter actually DID happen, in the form of a nation-wide black-on-white homicide spree known as the ZEBRA killings, in which the suspects or perpetrators were all Black Muslims.

Specifically, Zebra refers to a series of about 20 black-on-white attacks that occurred in San Francisco from October 1973 to April 1974, leaving 15 killed and 8 wounded. It turned out the killers were a cult--the "Death Angels"--operating within the Nation of Islam mosque in San Francisco, involving about eight men. Though only four would go to prison.  Their philosophy was bizarre: to get to heaven they had to kill a certain number of whites--women and children counting for more than men--before they could earn their 'wings.' They also seemed to have been led by charismatic leaders who came out from the main NOI headquarters mosque in Chicago.

What is not well known, however, is that the spree began much earlier, when police started noticing that there were many unsolved crimes with the same MO:  one or more well-dressed and groomed black men attacking whites without any apparent motive.  Exactly how many victims there were is still disputed.

From the book "Zebra: The True Account of 179 Days of Terror in San Francisco" by Clark Howard:

"...determined to calm the fear and put a stop to the killings, Joseph Alioto held a press conference to lay out what he believed he knew about Zebra. ... he laid out a huge collection of speculative intelligence, claiming that more than eighty killings across the state going back to 1971 could be linked to Zebra, and implying that those responsible for all the crimes might be tied to the Nation of Islam."

"This was October of 1973. The California attorney general’s office had already secretly compiled a list of forty-five of those killings which had taken place in the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Long Beach, Signal Hill, Santa Barbara, Palo Alto, Pacifica, San Diego, and Los Angeles; and in the counties of San Mateo, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, Contra Costa, Ventura, and Alameda. All the victims were white. All the known suspects in the killings had been associated with the Black Muslim movement. The killings were even then continuing throughout the state."
San Francisco Mayor Joseph L. Alioto's figure of 75 execution-style murders of White persons by Black killers in California since 1971 has been expanded to approximately 400 by adding figures for similar killings with an apparent racial motive in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Police officials who added the unsolved killings in the six Midwestern states to those in California went as far back as 1969.

There were enough clues that the spree had been planned for years:
1965 report on 'Black Muslims and the Police,' pg2of9
The Muslims claim that they will overcome without violence or torture, but there will be complete annihilation of the white man. The tentative date set for this annihilation is 1970.

Some of the other killings thought to be Zebra killings:


Oakland-Berkeley slashers
 Two black men had been randomly shooting and attacking whites with machetes in Oakland and Berkeley beginning September 14, 1970 and lasting a year.  14 separate attacks leave 15 victims dead or wounded.


According to this website,

there were at least seven people wounded or killed in the LA area in attacks that fit the Zebra profile, commencing in June of '71 and lasting for one year.


Eight blacks involved in two mass slayings of family members and others, from August to October of 1972, leaving at least nine victims dead..  They called themselves "De Mau Mau."
The killers were not themselves Muslim, but the group was founded by an ex-bodyguard to Malcolm X, Charles 37X Morris.


June 1973 to October 1974
Radical Black Muslims headquartered in Oklahoma City suspected in a series of black-on-white crimes, including at least six unsolved slayings, three shootings, two abductions and a dozen arson fires. One member arrested and convicted.


April 1974 Sacramento shotgun murders

Four young Black Muslims kill two and wound two in separate attacks.
..both (perps)Lang and Pratt "eventually expressed deep remorse to parole commissioners, telling them the killings around the state were coordinated by Muslim elders."
Pratt told the parole board: "It definitely was a racial crime..... This was constantly taught at the time. We had books on it, little pamphlets. This is what I see now as part of the brainwashing effect."

It is probably not a coincidence that the end of the killing spree more or less coincided with the natural death of the leader of the NOI, Elijah Muhammad, in early 1975.  His son, who succeeded him, quickly told his congregation to cool the anti-white rhetoric.

Certainly what was written about the NOI back in 1932, in the beginning, could just as easily have been written about the Manson Clan in 1969:

Detroit Free Press, 11-24-32
Detectives Wednesday expressed themselves as convinced that the cult had been conceived by a... religious fakir for personal gain and nurtured by a group of zealots whose reason had become unbalanced.   ...  Police believe these men are mad leaders who deluded the cult's members into homicidal tendencies.

Detroit Free Press, 11-28-32
There is a feeling of pity on our part for those who have so grievously been misled.  We offer our co-operation to help them by freeing them of their unfortunate leadership and making impossible a repetition of so horrible a crime*.  ... Detectives and others assigned to the case said that they would continue their investigation until the cult is stamped out.
*referring to a sacrificial murder committed by one of the group.

There were other curious links and similarities with the Black Muslims:

W.C. Fard Muhammad (founder of the NOI in the early 1930s)
...Fard emphasized contempt for the white race, whom he called “cavemen” or “white devils.”

So was it just coincidence that Charlie wanted his band to hide out in the caves until Helter Skelter was over?


                                                   Elijah Muhammad

Note the parallels in belief and language:
1965 report on 'Black Muslims and the Police,' pg3of9
--Elijah Muhammad: "We believe that intermarriage or race mixing should be prohibited."
--Malcolm X, on the black Muslim: "He's cleaning up the mess that white men have made."


After the 1932 murder, Fard claimed to be a divine figure in police interviews:
Master Fard Muhammad, who is still considered to be “Allah” by modern-day Nation of Islam members, was described as “suffering from delusions that he is a divinity.”

Of course Charlie also liked to imply he was Christ.


Fard preached an end-of-the-world scenario, like Manson:
Only 144,000 people would survive, and all of those would be Muslims of color, the only “true” Muslims.

(Though the NOI probably got this from the Jehovah's Witnesses, whom they have acknowledged as an influence.)


Another commonality that has intrigued me is the use of the "X" symbol by both groups.

The members of the NOI often dropped their 'slave names' and substituted an X to stand for their original, forgotten African names, for example: Malcolm X, Louis X, Clarence 13X, Joseph X Polite, Charles 37X Morris, etc.

And of course we know that Charlie and his followers burned an X into their foreheads during the trial, to show that they were "Xing"(removing) themselves out of society.

 Charlie X?

Sadie X?


Interview with Paul Crockett on Oct 3, 1969
Part 1, at the 21:00 mark:
"....So, all of these things he(Manson) .... says the black man is getting ready to blow the whole thing open, that he talks to them, that they know him, that they tell him these things...."


Crockett implies that the links between the Black Muslims and Manson was much closer than thought.  Is it evidence that Charlie, in fact, may have had contact with them after his release from prison in the spring of '67?  Or is Charlie just embellishing?


Here's Mommy, but where's Daddy's pic?

In his book, Vince Bugliosi asks Charlie at one point if he is part black, based on info from records relating to Manson's time at the National Training School for Boys, Washington, D.C. in 1951.

Helter Skelter, Vince Bugliosi, pg555
"Father: unknown. He is alleged to have been a colored cook by the name of Scott, with whom the boy's mother had been promiscuous at the time of pregnancy."

Charlie denied it, but Bugliosi had asked the wrong question.  In the US back in the '30s, 'colored' could mean anybody who had a darker skin tone, including people from Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, etc.

IF Charlie was of mixed race, he may have played this up to win the confidence of the NOI in the prisons.  Certainly by their own rules Charlie might have qualified as a brother:
The Muslims consider all non-whites to be Black Men, whatever their skin color.

There were a couple of behind-the-scenes events that occurred while Charlie was incarcerated at the McNeil Island Federal prison in Washington state from mid-1961 to mid-1966. They very well may have influenced his relationship with the Black Muslims.   The first was that the Bureau of Prisons(BOP) started adapting new tactics in their handling of hard-to-handle inmates.

McNeil Island
...the 1961 gathering titled “The Power to Change Behavior: A Symposium Presented by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons” as a key moment in the politicization of institutionalized brainwashing, behavior modification, and torture within the prison regime. The result was a national directive to experiment with these techniques, originally used against American POWs in Korea, on the black Muslim prison population.  ... these techniques constituted a prison-based, Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO)– like set of tactics that included surveillance, infiltration, and disruption. ...
     At the same time(early 60s), there were two formidable forces from the Left struggling against the decrepit conditions and racial violence inside prisons. Black Muslims and writ writers, also known as jailhouse lawyers, helped propel this shift.

Well Charlie liked to associate with the troublemakers, according to his records.  And according to the BOP the two most troublesome groups were the Black Muslims and the jailhouse lawyers--who liked to file a lot of lawsuits against the prisons and helped others file lawsuits.  One of Charlie's close associates at McNeil was Lanier “Red” Ramer, who was transferred to the much tougher prison at Marion, Ill, in 1972 for his 'writ writing.'   The point is that Charlie very well could have been caught up in this covert struggle between the prison administrators and the inmate agitators.   It would have been natural for the guards to try to recruit Charlie as an informant on these groups.  And if they succeeded in getting Charlie to snitch on the NOI in prison, they might have wanted him to do the same outside of prison.*  Is that why the cops and his probation officer ignored Charlie's criminal activities?  I've always suspected that the cops had an informant who was close to the family.  Well maybe it was Charlie himself.

*Though real evidence of any contacts between Charlie and any black person is mostly non-existent after he was released from TI in '67.  But it must also be remembered that Charlie didn't spend all of his time with the family--he reportedly kept up contact with his non-family associates during periodic visits by himself to Hollywood.

The other development was revealed by ex-NOI Malcolm X in this 1965 speech:
Malcolm X 1965 speech
"I mentioned the conspiracy between the Muslims and the right wing in this country. I know for a fact there is a conspiracy between the Muslim and the Lincoln Rockwell nazi and also the Ku Klux Klan. There is a conspiracy. ... The Ku Klux Klan made a deal, or were trying to make a deal, with Elijah Muhammad(leader of the NOI at that time)...." [Malcolm then explains that the NOI were thereafter free to operate in the south without hindrance from the Klan, and that the Klan was free to operate without interference by the Black Muslims.]

 Malcolm X

Charlie was known for his chameleon-like ability to ingratiate himself with any person or group.  Did this hidden peace treaty between the white and black segregationists filter down to the prison system, and did it pave the way for Charlie to get close to elements within the NOI? 

If ever there was a crime that warranted federal involvement, it would have been this interstate crime spree by the Black Muslims.  But in this instance, the FBI was nowhere to be found.  Though there is evidence that the feds knew what they were dealing with:
NOI also murdered whites in Oklahoma City and New York City, and an old San Francisco copper who worked the original Zebra detail told me that at the time he saw a secret FBI memo that reported that a parallel campaign was underway on the East Coast.

The investigation by the San Francisco PD was hindered, it is said, because they had no black undercovers that could have infiltrated the mosque of the NOI in that city.  But this is somewhat disingenuous, as the Black Muslims had been an intensive target of FBI surveillance for many years.
From official FBI COINTELPRO documents: A March 4, 1968 communique
sent out by J. Edgar Hoover ... specifically identified Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam as primary targets of COINTELPRO.
Amidst the urban unrest of July–August 1967, the FBI began "COINTELPRO–BLACK HATE", which focused on King and the SCLC as well as .... the Nation of Islam.

                                                        The Director, J. Edgar Hoover
On May 3, 1974 Alioto flew off to Washington to share his information on the Death Angels with (U.S.)Attorney General Saxbe ...Saxbe was very cool to Alioto. He treated the mayor as he would any other large city mayor but with little interest in the supposed nation-wide murder plot Alioto had discovered.

SF Mayor Alioto:

What can explain the lack of interest by the Feds?  Fear of being politically incorrect in that racially charged era?  Or did they want to see the violence continue to demonize black political movements?

The  Attorney General of the United States and head of the Justice Department, William B. "Bill" Saxbe

 "When people talk about Zebra, it's usually as a serial killing. That may be technically true, but the most accurate description of what Zebra was is terrorism, plain and simple."
   --Co-author Earl Sanders in "The Zebra Murders"
The machete attacks as well as the Zebra Murders were operational (FBI-COINTELPRO-CIA-Project CHAOS) criminal counterintelligence actions... to destroy, disrupt and discredit Black Nationalism and polarize the races...

But if the Zebra killings, with their obvious similarities to Helter Skelter, were part of Operation Chaos, what does that mean for our understanding of Charles Manson's murders?