Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Johnny Ussery Part 3- Whats Next??

“I’d love to find out who killed my mother and grandmother”, he told me. "Many others do as well", I replied back. 

We are sitting in his kitchen - Johnny Ussery, his wife and me.  We had just settled in. In my anxious and nervous state, I had showed up a little early. Johnny was still getting dressed when we shook hands. His wife had let me in, and warned me about the dogs, but so far they hadn’t smelled our cats on my clothes. We all said our hello's. I went reviewed for him the posts that Patty, Matt and Liz had done on his family. I mentioned Patty specifically as one person who has done so much research on what happened to his mother and grandmother. In a perfect world, it would be Patty here talking with him, as she knows so much more than I. But geography being what it is, it's me. I had my tape recorder and my laptop this time to take better care of getting his feelings and words in the most accurate way possible for a rookie like myself. I also had a couple of beers and, with the first shot of Coors-lite sliding down my mouth and into my stomach, I finally was starting to settle down. So I began by telling him about Alisa and Brie. He had not ever heard of them. I explained what Brie had been through, and gave him a copy of Restless Souls. I spent a few seconds on Doris and the impact she made. After briefing him on the Tate family and other books on the case in general, Johnny brought up Helter Skelter. He knew exactly what page of the book mentioned his mother and grandmother. He asked me if it would be possible to get him a copy, and I promised to send one right away. I took a few seconds to make sure he understood how to approach Bug's story and motivations with a fair amount of open eyes and mind. Then I brought out some of the old newspaper articles about his mother and grandmother, including a 40 year anniversary piece printed in 2008. Johnny had never seen any of them, and asked me to send copies of all of them with the book. He took a very long look at the first one I showed him, which had faded black and white pictures of his mother and grandmother…

“Is this mom and grandma?”  (He is squinting, holding the printout of the photo very close to his face)

 I told him it was.

“Well, you can barely see this”.  (The photos were rough to begin with, and as Johnny has no internet, I had to print some of them out. I was only able to show him saved copies and printed articles.)

Then Johnny’s wife showed me the few pictures they had of Johnny and his brothers, as well as the only photograph of his mother that he can locate - a wedding photo of her and his father, John Ussery. We looked over the newspaper clippings and his family photos for a few minutes with a somewhat nostalgic feeling hanging in the air. Although the subject matter was very dark, I still feel it seemed to have somehow comforted him in a way to be surrounded by images and thoughts of his mother and grandmother, albeit in such a tragic way. 

We both needed another beer by now. So we opened another round and then we got down to business. I had names to ask about, and names to give. We had been contacted recently by Deb Silva who has done extensive research on this case and is credited in one of the newspaper articles Johnny and I had just read.  She has done various things in her past that make her qualified to assist him if he decided he wanted to open, or re-open, that can of worms. Deb has expertise in these matters, which would benefit Johnny greatly. Deb has also been in contact the publisher of a newspaper out in Anderson County, California. Should Johnny want to do so, Deb could put him in touch with those back in California who understand the channels necessary to possibly put the ball in motion. But first, I need to make sure Johnny is wanting to go back down that very dark road. He started with a question for me....

“What do you feel when you’re looking across from a guy like me?”  

 What a way to start.  “Sort of like I am looking at a legend in a way," I answered him.  “Surreal,” I offered as well.

“I am far from a legend. Let’s just put it that way. You’re somebody who is fascinated by it all, but were just real people like everyone else. You know in your post you said mom and grandma were stabbed to death. They weren’t. They were beaten and strangled to death.”

 (I can’t believe I made that type of mistake, but acknowledge and apologize.) I tell him that the Tate Labianca crimes were similar and the victims were stabbed in those crimes...

"Yeah but in that case they know Manson did it. In my mom's case they don't know that Manson did it."

We both agree though that it couldn't be ruled out. I read some of the email questions including asking about a specific Aunt XXXX (Not the same as the “crazy aunt” from first interview), and gave some family information from Deb Silva…

“I would love to be able to get in contact with Deb Silva.” I don’t know who XXXX is. I would love to call my dad right now and ask about this person. Let me call him.”

At this point Johnny calls his father, John Ussery. I can clearly hear the voice in the background when his brother Lane answers the first call, and as well when John Ussery himself calls back…

“Hey Daddy....  Lost him....”  (He calls back)  Hello. I gotcha now. Hey, uh, do you know...do I have any aunt XXXX…

 He repeats name, and in background I hear his father say he never heard of her.

He never heard of her.”

He relays me. I wait for him to go on…

“Hey Daddy I’m talking to this guy right now who is involved in that Manson thing, and we're looking back to see. There is a whole bunch of people who are interested in things that happened in 1968 and 1969 and things like that. And one day I was looking at it, and I saw my name mentioned. I typed in there, 'Hi I am the 8 year old boy who found those two women, and I’m 52 years old and I am o.k.And, it’s kind of strange that so many people are interested in it, and a whole shit storm started from there.  Now I am sitting here in my house with a gentleman who lives in Fort Lauderdale who is showing me a bunch of stuff mentioning XXXX, who is supposedly your sister, but I've never heard of this woman. Anyway, there is this lady, who if I want her to help me find these people, can get a hold of them. I am going to let Saint, who is sitting here, go ahead and let this lady get hold of us and see what she can do. Anyway this guy sitting here has a computer and he is sincere about what he is doing. He has a bunch of old pictures and articles about my mother and Nancy Warren. I am going to go ahead and let them see what they can do. Hey Daddy, I am looking for -and so is Saint here- of a good picture of my mother. Do you have one?  No, me either. I thought I sent everything I had to you. I know YYYY has a bunch of stuff but she won’t talk to me….”

I could hear Johnny's dad  in the background ask if Johnny really wanted to talk to her? We all laughed at that. At this point Johnny said goodbye to his father, and tried again to reach the “Crazy Aunt” from our first interview. It went to voice mail. I told Johnny that Deb would be able to help him clear this up. I also needed to clear up the exact age of Johnny and if he remembers anything about the birthday just prior to his tragedy, or his stepfather...

“October 8, 1960. I had just turned 8 years old. In 1978 I went back to get hypnotized - that’s how they tried to do it.  They took me back year by year by birthday, trying to get me to remember things I liked and happy times. But I don’t remember the birthday before the murders. I also don’t remember Dulaney from Adam. I mean, nothing about him.”

As well, when I pointed out that it may not have been Dulaney's daughter who killed herself with his gun as Johnny had told me in our first conversation, but another step-daughter who had done it, he seemed surprised and totally unaware of this person. 

"No I did not know her. From what I understand it was from a marriage that happened after my mother died. I was told  about it in the 90's and just assumed it was his daughter. In fact I would be kind of intrigued about his real daughter if she is still alive. I would love to talk to her, but I doubt she would want to talk to me since I publicly accused her father of killing my mother." 

I asked him if he had any recollection of life with his real father, or times before the crimes, and he didn’t have much…

“Nope that is all gone. I remember Daddy coming to visit and it was always like Christmas when he showed up. That is what I remember. We always got so excited when Daddy was coming. He would bring us presents and stuff. That's what I remember.”

He seemed very pleased at the memory. Maybe we should leave it at that is what I am thinking. I know Johnny works very hard and had, in fact, worked all morning before I got to his house. I didn’t want to take up too much of his time. My job was done. I had delivered him the things he was unable to receive by email. I made a promise to send him the few items he requested. I made the plan to get him in touch with Deb Silva. I started to pack up my things.  Johnny’s wife asked him to tell me about the one thing other thing they thought I should know…

“Grandma Nancy always kept a gun in the kitchen - in a drawer next to the sink. When someone  knocked she would take it to the door. If she knew the person she would put the gun in a cabinet she kept next to the door before answering it. After the murder they found the gun in the cabinet next to the door. I don’t know if maybe she hadn’t just forgot it was there from the last time she put it in there, or if maybe that night the person who came over was someone she knew.”

I took my pad back out and made that very interesting note. And now, Johnny asks me what is next and where this is going to go? I told him then what I am telling you now….

I don’t know. This is beyond me now. I have taken Johnny as far as this train can go. He is in the hands of professionals now. We have done our best to put him together with those who can help him find his answers. Deb Silva will be updating us on their efforts, and where they may lead. I only wish there was more I could do. I was very privileged to meet a real survivor. Johnny Ussery has lived through something most of us can never imagine. Violent tragedy to the one person he needed more than anyone else. He has had to endure the added grief of never understanding why it had to happen. We spent some time talking about his life since, and like most of us, it has had its stumbles, and ups and downs, but he has made it through and is standing tall today. He is married to a very nice woman whom he appeared to love deeply. He went out of his way to tell me how special she was. For a guy who has been through so much, to demonstrate a heart so big, was a very satisfying thing to see. So, let's all hope for the best... times have changed much since 1968. There are things available today that were not around back then. For the first time in a long time there is some hope. Hope that this man can get some kind of answer to a question almost 45 years old. Who could do such an ugly thing? And why? It may still be a very long shot to ever find out, but now Johnny is at least pointed in the right direction if he chooses to aim. I think as a society we owe people like this whatever help we can give them. Maybe sometimes we can even get personally involved to do just a little bit more. In a world where people are capable of doing evil things like this in the first place, if we can’t count on each other to look out for one another....God help us all.

I’m leaving now, and almost to my car. Johnny and his wife are in the driveway saying goodbye.

“Hey Saint you know how I know you’re a good guy? In all the time we have been here this is the first time someone ever came here and the dogs didn’t go crazy.”

Funny, I had forgotten there were dogs in the house....

John Ussery and Clyda (Ussery) Dulaney

The Ussery Boys...

A later photo






29 comments:

cielodrivecom said...

Good work Saint!

Johnny Ussery said...

I'm at a loss for words, Saint. It's hard to explain how I feel while reading about a meeting and conversation with a pretty cool dude and myself, and knowing that a lot of other folks are going to read it too. That's part of my life! I gotta think about this awhile. Thanks Saint, you did good.

Sweetstink said...

Wow - I loved reading this .... your combination of facts and feelings really hit home for me .. studying this case is usually just old newspaper articles and court transcripts but this was personal and I felt priviledged to be let in to his life!! Thank you

Panamint Patty said...

WOW, Saint. Thanks for the shout out, but dude, it's all you. And Johnny, a sincere thanks for the photos. They bring your story to life. Patty cannot imagine that there isn't an enterprising reporter or detective in Ukiah who would'nt like to reopen your cold case. Best to you and yours, and good luck!

Doc Sierra said...

The Saint strikes again. Great job man.

Sure don't know what I'm going for....

leary7 said...

Saint, I'm curious if you told Johnny about Tex's tapes and the possibility of something being on there.
And does anyone know if the leather thongs used to strangle the two women still exist in an evidence locker somewhere? Would they have been tested for blood etc so that DNA tests could be done now? Would this Silva woman know?
If they took Johnny back in 1978 to the site and hypnotized him clearly there have been multiple attempts to investigate the murders. It would be nice to see an overview somewhere.
Johnny U. - a very cool guy. Thanks for opening up to the Saint.

ST. Circumstance said...

Leary-

Excellent point, and question!!!

could one of the "other murders" everyone is wondering about possibly being mentioned on the tapes be this one???

Here is from Tex Watsons own website and he mentions this in Chapter 7. By Chapter 8 he is talking about the fall of 1968 and the Magical mystery tour days... so timing wise this may have been earlier- but puts him in the area...

"Although I'd heard about Spahn Ranch soon after I first met Charlie, I had never actually been there until the day Dean and I picked up Terry Melcher's XKE at the Cielo Drive house and then stopped by the ranch for several days before continuing north to Ukiah. The fact that I first saw both places-10050 Cielo Drive and Spahn - within an hour of each other on the same day, driving directly to the ranch from Benedict Canyon, is one of those strange twists of fate that could have no meaning for me until much later...."

I dont think anything is on the tapes personally, but ya never know. This might have been a good thing to mention, and again with all the attention focused on Bruce Davis right now, and what he may know...

Well I guess I better keep my day job ;)

leary7 said...

no, no, you did great. if someone had gone in Johnny's house acting like Woodward and Bernstien he would have been totally turned off. You were the right man for the job.
Dogs never lie.

ST. Circumstance said...

Beauders had mentioned this trip, and raised this issue as well...

timing wise- I am almost 100% sure that Tex was there before the crimes, but it is another strange coincidence....

Matt said...

Blogger Sweetstink said...

Wow - I loved reading this .... your combination of facts and feelings really hit home for me


Yeh Sweetstink, the Saint paints a purdy picture doesn't he?

Keep coming back, we have much more on this part of the Manson story to come...

Panamint Patty said...

Ukiah was definitely a stop on the "trade route" north to Canada.

Panamint Patty said...

BTw, is anyone else watching "Breaking Bad?"

cielodrivecom said...

"Breaking Bad" is awesome. AMC has sure hit some homeruns lately

Johnny Ussery said...

When I was hypnotized, it was my idea to have it done. I was 17 at the time and a 17 year old mind tries to convince everything else that maybe there was something else that was so terrible to see it was blocked out. I wish the case would be reopened but it is my understanding that in order for that to happen new evidence needs to be presented. Not much of that. I'll try. Shake a tree hard enough and something usually falls out.

DebS said...

I have a bit of an update to report. I have been in contact with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. There has been a detective assigned to this case. I've spoken to Johnny and given him the contact info. It's up to Johnny now and I wish him the best of luck to try to get this case resolved.

Johnny Ussery said...

I called that detective and naturally his voice mail spoke to me. I'd like to know what went. on in his mind when he heard I was that little boy in 1968 and that I hope he'll find the people who killed my mother and grandmother. I left my phone number. Think he'll call back? Stay tuned.

leary7 said...

stay with it Johnny. Look at the Micheal Skakel/Martha Moxley case to see how justice can be done decades after the fact.
I wish I was out in Cal so I could contribute. Just know that there are many folks here rootin for the truth.

leary7 said...

it would be nice to know when the detective was assigned to the case. I wonder if it was just recently in repsonse to the news about Tex's tapes. Like most I doubt there is anything on the tapes, but if so I'm sure the Sheriff's office doesn't want to look like they were/are slackin. This is a cold case that screams to be solved.

Johnny Ussery said...

Thankyou, I'll do all I can. Sometimes it's a little overwhelming. I've always been a hands on person but for once I can't put my hands on this. We'll do what we can

leary7 said...

yeah, there is very very little that is functional or straightforward either with the Manson saga or any murder case really. But that's just it, sometimes it is the odd wind that rights the ship. The Saint showing up at your door could be such a wind.

leary7 said...

not that I am calling the Saint a windbag...just joking pal. pot calling and all that.

Panamint Patty said...

Patty is a few hours from Ukiah but if volunteers ever become needed for a new invetigation, please let her know.

Doc Sierra said...

Hi Patty, I live about 60 miles east of Sacramento. When I get over this bronchitis I plan on taking the 20 minute drive down to Mule Creek state prison to take some pictures. I won't go to Stockton, which is close, because it's a gang war zone right now but if you need someone in Sacramento, just let me know.

toocrowdedinthishouse said...

To Johnny Ussery: Thank you for speaking to Saint. We want this crime to be solved, even at this late date. Many people continue to be interested in this case. Do not give up hope, and keep calling that detective.

Stacey L. said...

Doc,
Stockton is a gang town now? Damn.

Doc Sierra said...

Stacey L. said...
Doc,
Stockton is a gang town now? Damn.
-------------------------------
Hi Stacey, unfortunately yes. Before I moved to Amador County I lived in Salinas which was also a gang war zone. Now I'm in the Sierra Foothills and the only gang I've seen here is flock of wild turkeys that cruise through my yard a couple of times a week. That's just the way I like it...

eviliz said...

Wow. I would of never guessed we would be able to reach out and help him, let alone meet him when he sent me that e-mail awhile back telling me he was "that boy Johnny." At first I thought he was a fake in that e-mail since we do get tons of those.
Again awesome job ST and it was great that Johnny and the dogs knew your "good people." Just because their is "Evil" in the blog's name (and my nickname) does not mean we are truly evil people does it?

eviliz said...

Wow. I would of never guessed we would be able to reach out and help him, let alone meet him when he sent me that e-mail awhile back telling me he was "that boy Johnny." At first I thought he was a fake in that e-mail since we do get tons of those.
Again awesome job ST and it was great that Johnny and the dogs knew your "good people." Just because their is "Evil" in the blog's name (and my nickname) does not mean we are truly evil people does it?

ST. Circumstance said...

No it sure does not!!