Friday, April 28, 2017

Tour 2017: Slipping in the Mix with Steve Grogan

On our first day we dropped in on Steve Grogan. He was performing in Oakland at a terrific vegan restaurant with a band headed by the very talented and gregarious Melvin Leonard. The band began with some soothing, smooth jazz numbers. They also covered tunes by groups as diverse as Santana, War and Ernie K-doe. They also played some tunes from their CD. They were terrific!

Below are a couple of videos. Please pardon my shaky hand. Well worth the trouble to watch. Please enjoy.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Murder Cases of the Twentieth Century - Biographies and Bibliographies of 280 Convicted or Accused Killers

So recently I spent a couple of days helping a friend move (I'm that kinda guy). We moved voluminous amounts of books. At one point I'm taking them out of boxes and arranging them on shelves in the new digs. It had been a long day and I was tired. Then, a big fat red hardcover book fell out of my arms and landed on my foot. It hurt. After putting the rest of the books in my arms on the shelves and cussing a little I bent down to punish the culprit. But when I read the title my attention was thusly diverted... Murder Cases of the Twentieth Century - Biographies and Bibliographies of 280 Convicted or Accused Killers, by David K Frazier.

Naturally the titled appealed to my black little heart and I looked at the masthead. It was published in 1996. What I had was an alphabetized, encyclopedic collection of the world's most famous murder cases of the previous 95 years - with bibliographies (hello Ed Sanders...). I thought about the pub date, 1996. That's the year I got into the web business (and out of the book business). To me the internet was the future and physical paper books I believed were reaching the beginning of end of the line. I wondered if Frazier knew what lay ahead of us electronically, would he have done a website instead?

Without hesitation I flipped to the M's. There were about 5 pages devoted to Manson. I found it interesting. Naturally, he sticks to the official Helter-Skelter motive and makes common mistakes like Manson believing that Melcher still lived at Cielo.

Official narratives mean nothing to me anymore. Some of you may remember me saying my wife and I were well acquainted with a man here in NC who later murdered his wife. The trial was big news. Knowing all of the actors and the real story I was blown away by the news coverage and especially by the national piece later broadcast on Dateline NBC. The things they left out were more astounding than the things they focused on. I've never trusted media accounts since.

I'd be interested to know what else in this narrative jumps out at Manson scholars.

Here's that section of the book. I OCR'd it for those who might have trouble reading the scans. For comparison the very end of this post is the book's attention devoted to Charles Watson (you know, the guy who actually killed 7 or 8 people).

Manson, Charles Males (a.k.a. "No Name Maddox," "Jesus Christ," "God," "The Devil," "Soul," "Charles Willis Manson") Born November 12, 1934, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Car thief, cult leader. Los Angeles, California; 9 murders (possible involvement in as many as 40); bludgeon, gun, knife; July—August 1969.

Film: Manson (US, 1972), a 93-minute documentary directed by Robert Hendrickson and Laurence Merrick (Merrick International Pictures). Cast includes Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Charles "Tex" Watson, and Jess Parsons (narrator).

Theatre: Charles Manson, a.k.a. Jesus Christ: A Rock-Musical Tragedy (1972), book by Fabian Jennings and music by Allan Rae, was performed in Toronto, Canada, in 1972 by the Playwrights Co-op. The Manson Family: Helter Five-0 (1990), an avant-garde opera by John Moran, was performed in New York City's Alice Tully Hall on July 17 and 18, 1990. The work was commissioned by Serious Fun!, Lincoln Center's annual avant-garde festival. Released by Point Music (New York) on compact disk in 1992 as The Manson Family: An Opera. Television: "Helter Skelter" (1976), a two-part, four-hour made-for-tele-vision movie based on Bugliosi's book of the same title, originally aired on CBS on April 1 and 2, 1976. Cast includes George DiCenzo (Vincent Bugliosi), Steve Railsback (Charles Manson), Nancy Wolfe (Susan Atkins), Marilyn Burns (Linda Kasabian), Christina Hart (Patricia Kren-winkel), Cathey Paine (Leslie Van Houten), and Bill Durkin (Charles "Tex" Watson).

Video: Sharon Tate, the Victim ... Charles Manson, the Convicted Serial Killer (US, 1990). Doris Tate, the murdered woman's mother, discusses the case in a 50-minute video manufactured and distributed by ATI Mark V Products, Inc.

"I'm willing to get out and kill a whole bunch of people. That's one reason I'm not really too fast on getting out. Because if I got out, I'd feel obligated to get even. It would be an honorable thing."—Manson in an August 1989 interview

Hippie cult leader often viewed as the prototype of the predatory guru (see Jim Jones) whose "Family"-directed murders marked the symbolic end of the 1960s era of innocence and free love. Born "No Name Maddox" to a 16-year-old prostitute in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 12, 1934, Manson never met his father. Taking his surname from a man his mother briefly married, the young child spent his early life shuffled between relatives and foster homes. In 1939 Manson's mother was convicted of armed robbery and during her imprisonment the five year old was sent to live with a strict, religious aunt and her violent husband. To "toughen up" the youngster, the man forced Manson to wear a dress to school on the first day of class. Released from prison after serving five years, Man-son's alcoholic mother reclaimed the boy but soon tired of having him underfoot. Once in a drunken stupor, she reportedly "gave" Manson to a bar-maid in payment for a drink. In 1947 at the age of 12, Manson was placed in the first of many institutions, the Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute Indiana. Ten months later he fled making his way on the streets by stealing. In the next several years, Manson received his early instruction in criminal behavior at a variety of institutions, including Father Flanagan's Boy's Town and the reform school at Plainfield Indiana. In his book, Manson in His Own Words, the killer graphically described his hellish three-year stay Plainfield where, if he is to be believes, he was routinely raped and beaten by the other inmates. Escaping from Plainfield in February 1951, Manson was recaptured and spent most of the fifties and sixties in and out of state and federal institutions for crimes ranging from homosexual assault, car theft, forging and cashing stolen U.S. Treasury checks, pimping and transporting prostitutes across state lines.

On March 21, 1967, Manson was paroled from Terminal Island Prison in San Pedro, California, after serving a long term for car theft and pimping at the federal prison McNeil Island in the state of Washington. Prophetically, the 32-year-old Manson realized that the 19 years he had spent behind bars had rendered him ill-equipped to adapt to the outside world and he asked authorities to permit him to remain in jail. They refused and with $35 in his pocket Manson drifted north to San Francisco, then the center of the Hippie movement. Thoroughly schooled in the "jail house con," the charismatic Manson soon realized that there was a place for him in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. A budding musician/ songwriter (Alvin "Creepy" Karpis of the Ma Barker gang had taught him to play guitar in prison), Manson used his music combined with an addled messianic philosophy buttressed with marijuana and mind-altering drugs to attract a coterie of young middle-class white women who had dropped out of society looking for "truth." Manson used his "young loves" to attract to his "Family"-disaffected males who possessed the skills he needed to make his cult self-sufficient; a handiness with weapons and automobile mechanics. With his Family in tow, Manson relocated to the Los Angeles area where lie settled his commune at Spahn Ranch, an old film set and horse ranch in Simi Valley. In exchange for care and sex from Manson's women, George Spahn, the 81-year-old owner, permitted the Family to stay there free. Manson used the ranch as a base from which to sell drugs and to convert stolen cars

At Spahn Ranch, Manson solidified his total control over the 30 or so members of his cult. Feeding them a steady stream of marijuana and LSD, the guru orchestrated sexual orgies designed to rid his followers of any of their "hang-ups." Calling himself "Jesus Christ" and "God," the 5'2" ex-convict preached his version of the upcoming apocalypse which combined his bizarre interpretation of the biblical book of Revelation with the unimagined depths of meaning he found in the Beatles' White Album, more specifically the song "Helter Skelter." According to Manson's paranoid reasoning the coming race war between the blacks and the whites was inevitable. In the ensuing struggle, the blacks would emerge victorious but lack the intelligence to rule the world. At this point, Manson and his followers would emerge from their "Bottom-less Pit," a place of safety in California's Death Valley to which they had fled to avoid the carnage, and take over the planet. Tired of waiting for "Helter Skelter," the day of the Apocalypse, Manson decided to instigate the event by sending out four of his most devoted disciples to kill prominent members of the white Establishment, then plant evidence implicating black revolutionaries. Terry Melcher, the record producer son of Doris Day and then boyfriend of actress Candice Bergen, was selected as a victim because a year earlier he had refused to give Manson a recording contract. At that time, Melcher was living at 10500 Cielo Drive in the West Los Angeles Benedict Canyon area. Unknown to Manson, Melcher had recently sublet the house to Polish film director Roman Polanski and his wife of eight months actress Sharon Tate. The beautiful actress was eight-and-a-half months pregnant and waiting for her husband to return from shooting a film in England. On the night of August 8, 1969, Manson assembled his "hit team" telling its appointed leader Charles "Tex" Watson, a 23-year-old one-time "A" student and high school football star, that "You're going out on the Devil's business tonight" and to "kill everyone inside" the house. Accompanying Watson were 21-year-old topless dancer Susan Atkins (known in the Family as "Sadie Mae Glutz"), Patricia Krenwinkel, the 21-year-old daughter of a middle-class insurance salesman, and Linda Kasabian, the group's drug-addicted 20-year-old driver and look-out who had left her home in the Mid-west to look for God.

Shortly after midnight, Watson and the three women invaded the Cielo Drive home of actress Sharon Tate. First to die was Steven Earl Parent, 18, who was visiting the caretaker who lived in a cottage on the grounds. Watson shot Parent four times at close range with a .22 caliber pistol as the teenager sat in his parked car in the driveway. Entering the house, Watson, accompanied by Atkins and Krenwinkel ultimately herded the occupants into the living room. Visiting the 26-year-old actress that night were Wojiciech (Voytek) Frykowski, a 32-year-old Polish emigre playboy and drug dealer, his lover Abigail (Gibby) Folger, 25-year-old heiress to the Folger's coffee fortune, and Jay Sebring, 35, Tate's former lover and a famous name in the recently invented field of men's hairstyling. In the ensuing carnage Frykowski was stabbed 51 times, shot twice, and pistol whipped with such force by Watson that the handle of his gun broke off. His body was found on the front yard of the estate. Folger was stabbed 28 times with a bayonet by Watson and Atkins before dying near Frykowski. Sebring was shot in the back and stabbed seven times. Last to die was Sharon Tate who, after pleading for the life of her unborn baby, was told by Atkins, "Look bitch ... I don't care if you're going to have a baby ... You're going to die and I don't feel any-thing about it." The group stabbed the actress 16 times. Per Manson's instructions, Watson tossed a rope over an exposed ceiling beam and wrapped the ends around the necks of Tate and Sebring. Atkins, who actually tasted Tate's blood, wanted to cut out the woman's unborn fetus and take it to Manson for ritualistic purposes, but was told by Watson it was time to leave. Before doing so, Atkins daubed a towel in Tate's blood and scrawled the word "PIG" on the front door.

The next night, August 10, Man-son accompanied Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel, Kasabian, and Leslie Sue Van Houten, 19, on a raid in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles 15 miles from the site of the Tate massacre. Alone and armed with a gun, Manson entered the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca at 3301 Waverly Drive. He tied up the 44-year-old supermarket tycoon and his 38-year-old wife assuring them both as he left that they would not be harmed. Returning to the car, Manson ordered Watson, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten to kill the bound pair. When Leno LaBianca was later found, he had been stabbed 26 times and the word "WAR" and several crosses had been carved into his chest. A knife and a fork were found protruding from his body. His wife was strangled with an electric cord and stabbed 41 times. "DEATH TO PIGS" and "RISE" were written on the living room wall in the the victims' blood as was the slogan "HEALTER SKELTER" [sic] found scrawled across the door of the refrigerator. Acting on Manson's instructions, the killers dropped the wallet of one of their victims in a black neighborhood in the hope that someone there would be caught by police using a credit card thereby leading them to believe that the murders were racially motivated. As public pressure mounted to solve the crimes (initially believed not to be linked), Manson had relocated his Family to Barker Ranch on the edge of Death Valley where he was arrested with 22 members of his group in October 1969 on charges of grand theft auto and arson.

The killers were identified as sus-=pects in the Tate-LaBianca murders after Susan Atkins, held at the Sybil Brand Institute as a suspect in the Manson-ordered torture-murder of Malibu music teacher Gary Hinman a few days before the Tate-LaBianca killings, told her cellmates about slaughtering the people on Cielo Drive on "Charlie's" order. She also bragged about Manson's future plans to shake tip the Establishment by murdering well-known celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, and Elizabeth Taylor. At a police press conference in Los Angeles held on December 1, 1969, authorities announced that the Tate-LaBianca case was solved. In a spectacular nine-month trial in which Liinda Kasabian turned state's evidence in exchange for immunity from prosecution, Manson, Atkins, Van Houten, and Krenwinkel were convicted of murder on March 29, 1971, and subsequently sentenced to death. Tried separately, Charles "Tex" Watson received a similar verdict and sentence. Manson and two other Family members were also convicted in the murder of Donald "Shorty" Shea, a would-be actor and hand on the Spahn Ranch. The death sentences, however, were over-turned and commuted to indeterminate life sentences in 1972 after the California Supreme Court invalidated t he existing capital punishment statute. All the principals in the Manson case have been eligible for parole since 1978, but their petitions have been consistently denied due largely to the efforts of Sharon Tate's family. Van Houten was subsequently retried in 1976 because her attorney, Ronald Hughes, disappeared during the first trial. His remains were found four months later in a mountain wilderness prompting many to speculate that he was killed by Family members because he refused to follow Manson's defense strategies. A second trial for Van Houten ended in a hung jury, but she was finally convicted in 1978. Watson married, fathered two children during prison conjugal visits, served as an assistant Protestant pastor at the California Men's Colony at San Luis Obispo, and currently runs his own prison ministry.

The women convicted in the case have since taken advanced educational degrees and counsel new female inmates.

Manson, still sporting the swastika he carved into his forehead, continues to be a figure of fascination for the media who hungrily hang on his every word. Realistic enough to know that he will never be released from prison, he now only occasionally attends his parole hearings. On September 25, 1984, Manson was hanging about the hobby shop in the California Medical Facility at Vacaville when he argued with fellow-inmate Jan Holmstrom over the man's constant recital of Hare Krishna chants. Holmstrom, a 36-year-old devotee of the sect doing life for the 1974 shotgun murder of his father, doused Manson with paint thinner and tossed a match on him. Manson survived, but was treated for second and third degree burns over his face, scalp, and hands. In 1993, the convicted killer was again thrust into the public spotlight when the enormously popular Los Angeles-based rock band Guns N' Roses featured his song "Look at Your Game, Girl" as the 13th and final cut on their The Spaghetti Incident album. Though the song was not cited on the album's play list, the name "Charlie" appears in the credits and lead singer Axl Rose thanks "Chas" at the end of the song. Depending on record sales, Manson could have earned as much as $62,000 in royalties. How-ever, based on a judgment obtained in 1971 it was ruled that Manson's royal-ties would go to the son of Voytek Frykowski. To deflect public criticism, Axl Rose promised to donate any royalties the band received from the song to an environmental group that helps dolphins. To many, Rose further served to popularize the killer by wearing a tee-shirt bearing Manson's likeness while performing. Manson's image has been officially licensed by Zooport Riot Gear, a surf-wear company based in Newport Beach, California, which pays him 10' a shirt. Writers on the case have since speculated that Manson was part of a murderous satanic orga-nization which included "Son of Sam" killer David Berkowitz and also that many of the murders were drug-related "hits."


The Watson Entry:

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Charles Manson Has A Granddaughter!

Another one of Charles Manson's grandchildren has surfaced. We were told that Charles Luther Manson, son of Charlie and Leona, had a daughter.  We were able to find her and she was nice enough to share a picture of her father.

This is the only known picture, at least in the Manson arena, of Manson's second son.

Here is a picture of Charlie's granddaughter, we think she looks a little like Jason Freeman.

Friday, April 14, 2017

You just never know...

Last night Autumn, a friend of the blog was at Souley Vegan in Oakland celebrating her birthday when she realized her b-day present was sitting at the next table eating southern fried tofu. Yep, Clem.

After tofu, his band took the stage.

Hard to reconcile this old fella with the neck-bearded kid in the Hendrickson films & DEATH TO PIGS joking about killing his parents. To everyone else in the restaurant he was just another patron/musician, but to Autumn it was Christmas in April. Who would think that he was once Scramblehead, mixed up in the crime of the century and the only member of the Manson Family convicted of murder to win parole?

Just goes to prove that everyone has a story... even the old lady next to you in line at the grocery store - with or without the neck beard...

Monday, April 10, 2017

Charles Manson 1959-1960

1959 was a busy year for Charles Manson, he had been released from federal prison at Terminal Island in September 1958 and was on five years parole.  By November of 1958 he had learned about pimping from his roommate, a Malibu bartender.  According to Bugliosi, (1994 page 198) unknown to Manson he was being watched by the FBI because the FBI was looking for a former roommate of the bartender.  Reports were made to his parole officer about Manson's pimping activities, the parole officer had a talk with him, told him to quit pimping which Manson denied he was doing.  The parole officer felt it was only a matter of time before Manson was in more trouble.

May 1, 1959 Manson was arrested for trying to cash a forged US Treasury check for $37.50 at a grocery store in Los Angeles, he volunteered that he stole the check from the mail, two federal charges. ($37.50 in 1959 would be worth $313.92 in 2017) Manson was turned over to Secret Service agents for questioning.  During the questioning the stolen check disappeared, it was thought that while the Agents had their backs turned Manson ate the check.  However, the charges remained.

Manson's attorney made a deal with the prosecutors to have the mail theft charges dropped if he would plead guilty to the forgery. September 28 1959 Manson went before a judge.  The probation department, a court ordered psychiatrist and the US Attorney's office all recommended prison time but an impassioned plea by Leona Musser aka Candy Stevens swayed the judge to give Manson a suspended 10 year prison sentence with five years probation.  If Manson screwed up during the five years probation he would be sent directly to prison for his full ten year sentence.

Sometime during 1959 Manson had created a company called 3-Star Enterprises, Night Club, Radio and TV Productions with a man named Tony Cassino.  Manson's business card said he was president and Cassino vice president.  This business was operated out of Manson's residence at 6871 Franklin Ave. #306 Hollywood.  The purpose of the business seemed to have been a lure for women that could be turned out for prostitution, it was never a bona fide business only one that existed on business cards.  The apartment where Manson lived and worked out of was less than a block from Rosina Kroner's Franklin Ave. apartment where he would shoot Bernard Crowe 10 years later.

December 1959 saw Manson arrested twice, the first time for taking Leona aka Candy Stevens and another woman across state lines for the purpose of prostitution, from Needles CA to Lordsburg NM.  This was a violation of the Mann Act a federal crime.  Manson was held and questioned but ultimately released.  According to Bugliosi, Manson thought he had beat the rap.  Bugliosi also says that at this point Manson married Leona so that she would not be able to testify against him should the charges resurface.  This does not seem to be true and we will get to that later in the post.

Manson's second arrest that month was December 31 1959 for auto theft and burglary.  The charges were dropped for lack of evidence and law enforcement focused their investigations for those crimes on Manson's then roommate Harold Estel Blevins.

courtesy of

Manson knew things were getting hot and it was only a matter of time before some of the things he had been charged with would catch up with him.  In fact authorities were building a case for the Mann Act charges.

April 27 of 1960 a bench warrant was issued for Manson because a Federal Grand Jury had indicted him on the Mann Act charges.  Manson was no where to be found.

June 1 1960 found Charles Manson being escorted from Mexico to the US Marshal's at the border in Laredo Texas.  He was being kicked out of Mexico for being an "undesirable alien".  He was held for the Mann Act charges awaiting transfer back to California.

Once Manson was extradited to California and placed in federal custody the forged US Treasury check eventually came back to bite him.  On July 14 1960 the indictment for the Mann Act charge, also known as the White Slave Traffic Act (WSTA), was dismissed according to Manson's rap sheet.  On July 21 1960 the forged check reared its ugly head.   Manson knew that he had the 10 years suspended sentence hanging over him and fought the charge, he was able to it hold off for a while but on July 10 1961 he was held to serving his suspended sentence at McNeil Island in Washington state essentially for a probation violation.

Meanwhile, Leona who had been arrested for prostitution, had done some LA County jail time in 1959 and had testified to the Federal Grand Jury April 1960 in Los Angeles regarding the prostitution across state lines had cut and run, she went to Colorado where her family was living.  She was pregnant with Charlie's second son Charles Luther  Manson.

Charles Luther was born September 24 1960 in Denver Colorado. 

Charlie had some opinions about Leona, their alleged marriage and even the paternity of their son which he related to Michael Channels in a 2002 letter.

Translation: Leona Manson 1959 had a son Charles Manson Jr. in Denver CO I wondered about him-She is a tricky bitch I called her Wonderwoman  We got a blood test and papers but never got married- She just forged the papers and filed divorce and got custody of my son

I was unable to find a marriage record for Charlie and Leona and there are good records for marriages in California during 1959 and 1960.  Manson might be right about them taking out a marriage license but not using it.  Although he is wrong about the year Charles Luther Manson was born.

It might be that Leona told her parents that she and Manson were married because of the stigma of having a child out of wedlock at that time.  Consider the divorce papers which do not state an exact date for the marriage.  The papers simply say they were married in the Spring of 1959. (section 2 of the first page) There are not too many women that don't remember the date of their marriage.

I also have a little bit on Charles Luther Manson.  According to Social Security Claims Index, Charles Luther changed his name to Jay Charles Warner in 1976.  This gives his date and place of birth as well as his death date.

Let's pause here and reflect.  How is it possible that both Rosalie and Leona changed the names of their sons from Charles Manson to Jay?  Also, both of the Jay's died in Colorado.  oo--ee--oo

Here is a record of a traffic ticket that was issued to Jay Warner that gives his physical description.  He was relatively tall considering the height of his supposed father and he had blond hair and blue eyes.  Leona was fairly short, too, going by her yearbook pictures in group shots.

Manson served his 10 years, less time off for good behavior and was given a mandatory release March 21 1967.  A mandatory release differs from a release granted by a parole board hearing.  The terms of parole are less stringent and the time on parole after the release is limited to the time the prisoner would have served had he done the entire 10 years of the sentence in prison.  In Manson's case he was taken into custody June 1 1960 by the US Marshal's in Laredo Texas, starting the clock.  His time on parole would have been finished by June 1 1970.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Letter from Joanne to Sandy Good

One of the main tasks I set myself during the writing of "Coming Down Fast", was to determine any possible connection Joel Pugh may have had with the Manson collective prior to his death in London on December 1st 1969. Of particular interest, I wanted to get to the root of the letter that contained the ominous passage, "I would not want to happen to Joel happen to me" (sic). First reported in Vincent Bugliosi's "Helter Skelter", the extract gave the impression that Joel's death was suspicious, and in some way connected to the sensational "murder" toll attributed to members of the Family.

Ultimately, Bugliosi's brief and pat summary of Joel's death stripped him of any personality, rendering him as nothing more than an anonymous "victim". This set me a task in building a personality around Joel, something I felt was vital to assemble some sort of reality.

To be honest, I never thought that despite my well-honed research skills I would be able to find the letter that kick-started the investigation into the circumstances of Joel's death. Remarkably, following a long trail of tip-offs, emails and phone calls, I was led to a library where a file of paperwork left by a detective had been archived. Within the reams of reports and other pieces of ephemera was the letter that ultimately fell on Bugliosi's desk which in turn, went on to imprint Joel's name in the Manson phenomena.

It didn't take more than one read of the letter from Joanne to Sandy Good to see how detectives had twisted an otherwise innocuous part of the letter to turn it into a possible link to a Manson related "murder" - the echoes of which have rattled on over the years. As you will read, the letter's most contentious line was (a) rewritten and (b) taken wholly out of context, allowing spectacular conclusions to be hastily drawn. As I am at pains to point out to fellow students of the case, despite activity at the highest level of officialdom, no attempt was made to contact the Pugh family to check on Joel's mental health status at the time of his death. Indeed, the first they would read of the investigation by police was in "Helter Skelter" in 1974.

This is the full letter from Joanne to Sandy Good.

Monday, March 27, 2017

What became of the "Hare Krishna" who burned Manson?

Some of you might recall these tabloid photos from 1994 when Manson was doused with lighter fluid and set ablaze:

We were curious as to what became of him:

Man Ruled Insane In Temple Stabbing

Thaai Walker, Chronicle Staff Writer Published 4:00 am, Saturday, December 2, 1995

Jan Holmstrom sat in a Hall of Justice courtroom yesterday in shackles the sheriff's department reserves for those considered too volatile for simple manacles.

A thick chain ran around his waist, connected to two handcuffs that bound his hands together in front of him, then looped down his body to his feet, cinching them so that the 47-year-old man could only walk in small, shuffling steps.

But Holmstrom was not the image of the raving paranoid schizophrenic that those who know him claim he can be. Having received psychiatric treatment while in jail, he sat calm and composed and listened intently as Superior Court Judge Lenard Louie pronounced that Holmstrom was not guilty by reason of insanity for the stabbing of a man inside a Cole Valley Hare Krishna temple in November 1994 -- an act Holmstrom has said he did for his God.

For a man whose life has been marked by violent acts committed against himself and others, including the shotgun slaying of his father in Pasadena over 20 years ago, the judge's finding was the most humane decision that could have been made, Holmstrom's lawyer said.

The ruling, which Louie based on the recommendations of three psychiatrists, means that Holmstrom will not be sent to prison for his crime. Instead, he will go to a high security mental facility that Holmstrom's lawyer hopes will provide him with extensive psychiatric care.

"We would not be where we are now, if Mr. Holmstrom had gotten the proper treatment the first time he got violent," said his defense lawyer Sheila O'Gara. "The mentally ill fall through the cracks. They don't belong is the criminal justice system, but there is no other system to put them in. The government has shirked its responsibility."

While Holmstrom was awaiting trial on the charges of assault with a deadly weapon and burglary for the Nov. 26, 1994 attack at the Hare Krishna temple, O'Gara and prosecutor George Beckwith came to agree that state prison was not the right place for Holmstrom.

Holmstrom was not given proper psychiatric care or medication for his illness, when he was serving time for the 1974 slaying of his father, O'Gara said. In prison, he sent death threats to family members and attacked guards and prisoners -- including fellow inmate, cult leader Charles Manson, whom he set on fire.

If the 1994 case had gone to a jury trial and Holmstrom had been convicted on the charges, the outcome would be the same as his earlier trip through the justice system, O'Gara said. He would be sent to prison, receive no psychiatric care, later be paroled and, without supervision, probably become violent again, she said.

Under Louie's ruling yesterday, however, Holmstrom can be incarcerated for as many as 25 years. His release will depend on the opinion of psychiatrists who will evaluate him periodically.

"Whatever sins were committed by Jan Holmstrom he has suffered like the damned. It is the curse of mental illness," O'Gara said. "Because he is medicated now, he is aware and living in a state of remorse. But every day he has to live inside his own head. Every day he has to live with Jan Holmstrom."

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ed Sanders, Author Of Manson Family Biography, To Sell Massive Archive

August 28, 2016 8:57 AM ET
Heard on Weekend Edition Sunday
by John Kalish

Sanders wrote the definitive book on the Manson Family ("The Family.") He's currently working on a book about Robert Kennedy. He's decided to sell the assembled work on which he's based his research.



Ed Sanders is a kind of godfather scholar of the 1960s counterculture. He wrote the definitive book on the Manson family. He co-founded the rock band The Fugs. And his latest project is a book about Robert Kennedy. Now he's selling the massive archive of files he built over half a century to tell his stories. Jon Kalish visited Sanders at home in Woodstock, N.Y., and reports that the 76-year-old poet, musician and scholar has decided it's time to start thinking about retirement.

JON KALISH, BYLINE: Ed Sanders' archive fills 400 banker's boxes.

ED SANDERS: I have files on many things. I'm a compulsive filemaker.

KALISH: He could pass for a college professor with his bushy mustache and tweed jacket, sporting a button for Bernie Sanders - no relation.

SANDERS: This is a garage, which is packed floor to ceiling with my chronological archives.

KALISH: He's got them organized by date and subject, all carefully catalogued in a 200-page single-spaced directory. Attached to the garage is a small building that used to be his writing studio until it, too, filled up with boxes. Sanders opens one of them and pulls out a record of him performing a poem.


UNIDENTIFIED MEN: (Singing) They were the Yiddish-speaking socialists of the Lower East Side.

SANDERS: You could send one of these to Bernie Sanders.


UNIDENTIFIED MEN: (Singing) La, la, la, la, la, la, la...

KALISH: Three sheds on his property hold even more. None of them are climate controlled. One of the sheds contains 18 boxes filled with files, photographs and memorabilia Sanders accumulated while researching the Manson family.

SANDERS: Files and files and files and files.

KALISH: Manhattan publisher Steve Clay is handling the sale of Sanders' archive.

STEVE CLAY: I see Ed's archive as one of the great '60s archives out there. I love this one. This is a flyer. Protest against the rudeness, brusqueness, crudeness and violence of narcotics agents, a benefit featuring underground movies plus The Fugs

KALISH: The Fugs were Sanders' long-running band, and he's got their recordings archived too.


THE FUGS: (Singing) Well, I ride the left wing airlines, stirring up trouble at night, secret signs and secret deeds, I'm just a yodeling yippie.

KALISH: The band got its start playing at concerts and protests throughout the 1960s. That's also when he ran the Peace Eye Bookstore and became involved in First Amendment battles over obscenity.

KEN LOPEZ: Ed Sanders in particular was kind of right in the middle of a lot of that.

KALISH: Ken Lopez is a dealer who's handled the sales of archives belonging to writers William Burroughs and Robert Stone. He says Sanders' papers cover a crucial period in American history.

LOPEZ: Culturally and historically and literarily, this sheds a lot of light on important changes that were taking place. It definitely would be an archive with great scholarly value.

KALISH: Not to mention monetary. Estimates for the archive range from the low six figures to a million dollars or more. Sitting in his house, Sanders says the archive has become a part of his life.

SANDERS: I like my archive. It's a living thing. It's like a life form. It's like a big mushroom out there.

KALISH: The archive, of course, will stop growing once Ed Sanders sells it, but he's not quite ready to hand over all of his files. He'll hold on to some for a book-length poem about Robert F. Kennedy and for his unfinished multi-volume autobiography. For NPR News, I'm Jon Kalish in New York.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Review: Love Letters from a Secret Disciple

This book review was contributed by long time reader Jim Hayes:

Love Letters from a Secret Disciple, a psychoanalytical search by Sy Wizinski (Terre Haute: Moonmad Press, 1976)

This is an expensive out of print book. The contents are way out of proportion to the price which ranges from $95 to $250. The cover is a striking color rendition of a Manson drawing from the trial. It goes downhill from there. Perhaps the subtitle "a psychoanalytical search" is the tipoff that pages of turgid, highly speculative drivel is going to follow. This guy is an English professor? What, English as a second language?

The authors name is Saul Rosenthal and he was an assistant professor of English at Indiana State in Terre Haute during the 70's. He used the pseudonym Sy Wizinski 1.  It seems that he's alive as I cannot find an obituary and his web trace is very slight. He has two horrible poems in the Indiana English Journal 2 : "Lost in the fantasy of permanence, Oblivious to the dominions of decay, How can they know the daily grace of miracles"... yeah. Okay. All right. Furthermore, online I found an inscribed copy reading "from Saul Rosenthal" so I feel secure in identifying the true name of the author. 3

Rosenthal knew a woman who started corresponding with Manson in 1969 at age 13. In 1975 after Ms. Fromme attempted to assassinate President Ford; the FBI showed up and grabbed all the letters as "evidence". The woman he calls Beatrice managed to keep some back and this book reprints their transcripts. There's nothing really spectacular here; the usual cryptic Manson missives about God, love and saving the planet. One hard piece of information is that Manson asks "Beatrice" to write his friends Steve Grogan, Larry Jones and Bob Beausoleil in December of 74. Furthermore from a letter of March 75, Manson gives each of the Family a name as an occult flash point.

This seems to be the "Suckatash Sister" reference from Sanders and it reads more astrological and elemental than he reveals. 4 "Lyn 3 Red as Scarlet Mars iron amethyst Aries Q of red Sandie 4 Blue Saturn onyx Capricorn Queen of Sky Blue Sue 5 Mercury jasper Virgo Q of Violet Katy 6 yellow Venus Diamond Libra Babas 5 light 7 Queen of light…" (p.113)

Ironically, the items he used to pad the book are now its main value. He includes an interview from the LA Free Press with a sympathetic writer just before the trial that details Manson's confinement. 6 Next is an unrevealing telephone interview with another underground LA magazine "Tuesday's Child". 7 This resulted in Manson getting his phone privileges revoked.

What really should be revoked is the long, confusing opening essay to Manson's off reprinted final court statement. Good lord! Wizinsky starts by quoting the English Catholic cardinal and theologian John Henry Newman (1811-1890) and meanders onto Sacco & Vanzetti, James Thurber (?), climaxing with a panegyric about Ralph Nader!  Wizinsky should be on trial for his wandering metaphors and touchstones that attempt to bring the Manson case (and Wizinsky's "spectacular" insights) towards the status of universal myth. John Henry Newman's autobiography can be compared to Manson's soliloquy? Really?

Historically, the most important letter is printed next. It's an unsigned "Pro-Family" letter from the LA Press which served as an introduction to Manson's famous letter to Leary. 8

"Brothers and sisters", it reads, explaining that Manson's words have been shut out of the media dialogue even amongst the "underground" press. The letter goes on about the "machine" of society: the media industrial prison complex. 9 It links up Manson to the wave of activism then flourishing in "San Quentin, Soledad, LA County Jail and Sybil Brand".  What's interesting is the context of comparing The Family to other autonomous anti-establishment tribes such as the Weathermen, Mel Lyman's Fort Hill Community and the Black Panthers. 10 Of course Manson's letter to Leary was prompted by Leary's Weathermen assisted prison breakout and the subsequent "kill a robot policeman" statement. Whether you see any affinity between the forces of the militant left and The Family you can be sure that the authorities did. This was emphasized in the security for the trial and the prisoner transfers.11

Finally, he reprints a sad interview with Manson's mother just before the verdict. She mentions wishing that Manson got some psychiatric help. It's really poignant actually. 12

The author ends with an "open letter to Charles Manson" that is just off the charts in terms of bizarro-land commentary. His use of fifty cent words and convoluted thinking show not only his ego but his lack of understanding of the subject. How Manson could understand this tortured logic peppered with polysyllables and far-fetched literary references is inconceivable. Between the fully orgasmic prose and the copyright issues; it's no surprise this book was never reprinted.

Luckily, Lynette Fromme gets the last word in via a photocopied letter: "we live in a very magic world…everyone does…but not everyone knows it!"

1 Catalog of Copyright Entries. Third Series: 1976: July-December
2 volume 9 number 4 Summer 1975
3 I found this on Princeton but the listing is now gone! 
4 The Family, Sanders, Ed. (NY Thunder's Mouth: 2002) p. 482
5 I'm not sure who Babas is.
6 LA Free Press: "First Interview with Charles Manson in Jail"; 30 Jan 70. Michael Hannon.
7 Tuesday's Child: interview 1970. Steve Alexander.
8 LA Free Press: 9 Oct 70.
9 My own words which I hope convey the drift.
10 The author drags in the SLA as well.
11 At the time the authorities didn't realize the Kenneth Como connection or at least didn't prepare.
12 LA Times 26 Jan 71 "Manson's Mother Talks of his Early Life" by Dave Smith.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ten TLB "What Ifs?"

Parallel Universes

I generally don't indulge in "what if?" scenarios, preferring much more to live in a world of "what is”— if I can. But occasionally I wonder how the whole TLB/"Manson Family" experience would have played out if certain things had happened differently. For examples:

1.  What if Winifred Chapman had decided to spend the night of August 8-9, 1969 at 10500 Cielo Drive? Would her murder -- that of a black woman --  have thrown a clog into any "Helter Skelter" scenario?

2.  What if the Kotts' party had broken up an hour or so later and the departing guests had encountered Charles "Tex" Watson cutting the phone lines into 10050 Cielo Drive or the bloodstained killers exiting the property after they committed the murders there?

3.  What if Rudolf Weber had been a little more proactive and had gone to the police with his recollection (including license number of vehicle) of a suspicious group of young people using his hose on the night and in close proximity of a mass murder? (Weber's home was almost two miles from Cielo Drive but it was off the same main road -- Benedict Canyon Drive -- that any hypothetical killers would have likely used coming and going from the crime.)

4.  What if the "members" of "the Family" had scattered with the four winds after their departure from Spahn's Movie Ranch in September of 1969 instead of sticking together and being arrested en masse at Barker Ranch in mid-October? Would the concept of a fanatical group of murderous hippies been a harder sell to the public and a jury?

5.  What if Susan Atkins had not confessed her role in the Tate-LaBianca murders to her fellow inmates at Sybil Brand? In what other ways could/would the case have been solved?

6.  What if Susan Atkins had not repudiated her grand jury testimony and gone on to testify for the prosecution during the murder trial? Would the more "innocent" Linda Kasabian have been convicted of murder?

7.  What if Charles "Tex" Watson had been extradited to California in time to be tried along with Charles Manson and the three girls? Would that have changed the whole "Manson as demonic puppeteer" theme?

8.  What if Charles Manson had been allowed to defend himself during his murder trials? How do you think he would have handled witnesses like Linda Kasabian and Paul Watkins?

9.  What if Manson (or any of his codefendants) had demanded a separate trial? Could any of them have gotten a better deal for themselves if they had pursued their defenses individually and self-centeredly, with only their own welfare as their primary concern?

10.  What if the California Supreme Court had not abolished the death penalty in1972 and the convicted killers had been executed shortly after the conclusions of their trials? Would public fascination in the case be less than it is today because the players would not have been as much of an ongoing part of the American consciousness as they have been for all these decades?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Bernard Crowe: those present at the shooting

Little by little we are dissecting the Bernard Crowe incident.  Nailing down who was present has been difficult due to no one being sure that the names given are true names.  We do know that Luella in Tex's version is Rosina Kroner.  Ed Sanders has proffered some names but with pretty much no sourcing.

The court testimony gives us the names Jim, Del and Steve who are associates of Crowe.  But who are Jim, Del and Steve?

Here is an excerpt from Ed Sanders The Family that gives us a clue who a couple of the people might be.  2002 PB edition pages 148-9

Next are pages of court testimony where Lotsapoppa is discussing Del beginning at the very bottom of the first page.

According to the testimony it was Del who set up Lottsapoppa with Rosina, Lottsapoppa had not previously known Rosina.  

When I first read the testimony I thought to myself that Lottsapoppa was probably saying that Del was dead because he didn't want to involve him any further.  Turns out I was wrong.

Ziggyosterberg and I kidded around, in the last Crowe post, that Dale Fimple in Sanders narrative did not sound like a real person.  Turns out Sanders was right this time!

This is what I found.

What's in this article is essentially what Crowe stated in his testimony, down to the girl named Chris who Crowe says was in the accident where "Del" was killed.  I do not believe that Chris was Fimple's wife even though she gave her last name as Fimple to the hospital.

A little more on Dale Fimple.

Where Sanders got the information about what Dale said about Charlie's "ritualistic dance" and the description of how the shooting went down is anybody's guess.  Dale was dead at by November 23rd 1969, before the public learned that Charlie was involved.  He could not have learned it from Dale directly.

You may have noticed the last name of Scorpi in the above testimony, it's mentioned twice.  I was a bit mystified until Dreath pointed me to the page in the testimony where that last name was connected to a first name.  Steve apparently is Steve Scorpi.

Unfortunately I have not been able to find anyone named Steve Scorpi.  When searching for simply the last name Scorpi at Ancestry there are a meager 20 hits in the entire US including men and women and none are young enough to be our guy.  I am leaning towards Scorpi  being misspelled by the court reporter as Crowe himself did not know how the name was spelled.  I believe that Crowe was probably saying Dale in his testimony but the court reporter mis-heard him, maybe due to Crowe's manner of speaking.  Dale and Del sound very much alike when spoken.

Previous Bernard Crow post.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Miss Scarlet in the Living Room with the Knife

At the outset I apologize in advance to anyone who takes offense at the clinical discussion, below, of the wounds inflicted on the victims at Cielo Drive. Dreath

The official narrative tells us that three knives were carried by the murderers to Cielo Drive. Bugliosi
tried both before the Grand Jury and during the trial to increase this number to four by having Watson carry his own knife. He did this due to the defensive knife wound to Steven Parent. His chief witness, Linda Kasabian, never supported his effort. Susan Atkins, before the Grand Jury, was hesitant to confirm Bugliosi's theory. So we are left with three knives.

Two of these knives are described by Kasabian and Atkins. We know there was a folding "Buck" knife that had a 3/4 inch diameter blade. There is a knife described as having tape on the handle. Based upon the autopsy reports this knife probably had a one inch blade. The third knife is never fully identified by either witness but, again, based upon the autopsy reports and testimony of Thomas Naguchi probably had a one or more likely a one and one half inch blade.

We also know that when the killers got out of the car and walked back to the gate of Cielo Drive the knives were in the possession of Krenwinkel, Atkins and Kasabian. After that, the evidence regarding possession of the knives is not as clear because somewhere between climbing the fence and the front door of the house Watson came into possession of a knife. This knife was used to attack Steven Parent, used to slash the screen on the entry window and used to stab every victim in the house.

We are also told that Atkins lost her knife at some point during her struggle with Voytek Frykowski and that knife, according to the official narrative, landed, blade-up, in a chair in the living room.

We know two knives were thrown out the window of the car on the way back to Spahn Ranch. These would have logically been 'the taped knife' and the third knife. I will call the third knife 'the other one'.

So we have three knives:

The Taped Knife

The One Left Behind and.....

The Other One

The Taped Knife

We know that one knife used at Cielo Drive had tape on the handle. According to Kasabian this is the knife she obtained from Larry Jones before leaving Spahn Ranch that night.

Q. Was one of the 3 knives, the one that Larry Jones gave you?

A: Yes.

Q. Was there anything unusual about the knife?

MR.KANAREK: Calling for a conclusion, conjecture, your Honor. Immaterial.

THE COURT: Overruled.

A. It had tape wrapped around the hilt, the top of the knife.

We also are led to believe that this is also the knife wielded by Krenwinkel during the murders.

Q. You can answer this yes or no, Linda. Did Katie say that --- I am talking about Patricia Krenwinkel now --- did she say why her hand hurt?

A. Yes.

MR.KANAREK: I object.

Q. What did she say in regards to that?

MR.KANAREK: I object on the grounds of conclusion, hearsay, and no materiality.

THE COURT: Overruled.

A. She said when she stabbed that there were bones in the way and she couldn't get the knife through all the way, and that it took too much energy or whatever, I don't know her exact words, but it hurt her hand.

Q. Did she say anything about the grip of the knife?

A. That is why her hand hurt.

We are left with the impression from these two moments in the testimony that this knife was transferred from Kasabian to Krenwinkel when Krenwinkel left the house and walked over to Parent's car to borrow the knife from Kasabian. However, it should be noted that Kasabian never actually directly identified which knife she had when they entered the property or which knife she gave to Krenwinkel.

The witnesses are not consistent, however,  regarding the Taped Knife.

On December 1, 1969 Susan Atkins was taken under court order from jail to the office of her attorney Paul Caruso. The purpose of this trip was to prepare a plea on behalf of Atkins.

When Atkins appeared for this interview Kasabian was not in custody. That didn't happen until December 4th. Kasabian was on the other side of the country and hadn't had contact with any Family members for several months. I point this out only because it means that Atkins could not have known what Kasabian was going to say. So what did Atkins have to say? (Thanks to for the interview.)

PAUL CARUSO: She died. What kind of knife did you have?

SUSAN ATKINS: A buck knife, with black tape wrapped around the handle. I don’t know if the police ever found it or not.

RICHARD CABALLERO: What makes you think it was black tape? Is that the way you recollect it?

SUSAN ATKINS: That’s the way I recollect it. I know we had one buck knife and it had black tape wrapped around it because the handle was broken off. Just a little piece.

RICHARD CABALLERO: The handle was broken?

SUSAN ATKINS: Yes, before we went there.

RICHARD CABALLERO: Did it say anything on the blade of the knife.

SUSAN ATKINS: Not that I know of.

RICHARD CABALLERO: Did it say “buck” ?

SUSAN ATKINS: It probably did. I know it was a buck knife.

RICHARD CABALLERO: How new or old was the knife?

SUSAN ATKINS: It was fairly old.

RICHARD CABALLERO: Where did you get the knife from?

SUSAN ATKINS: From the Ranch. It was stuck in wood. I don’t know where the knife actually came from.

RICHARD CABALLERO: Had you seen other knives there that had tape around them? At the ranch?

SUSAN ATKINS: One or two. Yes, I believe one.

RICHARD CABALLERO: You say it had black tape around it. Could that have been that one of the knives brought there that night had black tape around it for perhaps did not have?

SUSAN ATKINS: No, because I remember it having the tape around it, I remember holding it. And I remember looking at it and wow, that’s going to leave fingerprints.

RICHARD CABALLERO: Okay, when you stabbed Frykowski in the leg, is that the knife that you left there, or the other knife.

SUSAN ATKINS: I can honestly say I don’t remember what knife I left there.

PAUL CARUSO: Did you have another knife up there?


PAUL CARUSO: Only took one knife there.

SUSAN ATKINS: I only took one knife there. Everybody had a knife.

RICHARD CABALLERO: The knives were exchanged. Therefore you may have left a knife different from the one that had the black tape around it, is that right?

SUSAN ATKINS: That could be a possibility but I remember asking when we got back in the car did anybody have the knife with the tape around it and they said no.

RICHARD CABALLERO: Things were pretty excited at that point. And you stopped in the car and as you will relate in a few minutes, you wanted to get rid of it? But first of all, there was another knife there, that might have been there a buck knife too? Do you have knowledge that there was another knife that might have been a buck knife?

SUSAN ATKINS: No, I don’t.

PAUL CARUSO: Susan said they all had knives.

RICHARD CABALLERO: Yes. This is crucial because the police have a knife and that's what we're trying to get to because there's a good chance that you left a different knife there.

At this point in the interview the discussion regarding the taped knife ends and is never discussed again.

Atkins is sure she has the taped knife but she also calls it a "Buck" knife. If we ignore Kasbian's testimony for a moment, Atkins' memory appears reasonably sound. She even says when they returned to the car she asked if anyone had the taped knife and reports that everyone said 'no'. This adds detail. She also distinctly remembers looking at the knife in her hand and thinking about finger prints. These details are indicative of actual memories and add credibility to her statements.

Atkins also had absolutely no reason to lie about the taped knife in this scenario. She is being interviewed by her attorneys. This interview, it was thought at the time, would never see the light of day.

Kasabian identifies the taped knife as the one given to her by Larry Jones but does not actually identify it as the knife she gave to Krenwinkel. This is left to Bugliosi's inference and becomes part of the official narrative through no witness. She also doesn't describe which knives she threw out the window of the car but does state that her "Buck" knife was not in the car.

Atkins, based upon all other evidence, however, probably is wrong. And there just might be a reason she wants the taped knife and not the Buck knife.

The other interesting comment in the exchange, above, is this:

RICHARD CABALLERO: The knives were exchanged. Therefore you may have left a knife different from the one that had the black tape around it, is that right?

Atkins never mentions exchanging knives in this interview or before the Grand Jury. The only place the subject comes up is right here. We do know she has been interviewed previously at the jail because Caballero alludes to those conversations.

RICHARD CABALLERO: Susan, I just want to interrupt you one moment. You said to me before about the gun, yesterday when we spoke in jail, that was Charlie’s gun, wasn’t it?

Unfortunately, we don't know what was discussed the previous day at the jail regarding the knives so a mystery remains: who actually had the taped knife when the killers entered the property and how were the knives exchanged? This comment about an 'exchange' (if we knew the details) may also answer the question: how did Watson end up with a knife before the attack on Steven Parent. It might also confirm or refute Krenwinkel's stroll to Parent's car to acquire Kasabian's knife.

The One Left Behind

This knife was owned, originally, by Linda Kasabian and is a folding buck knife. It was found blade up in a chair located in the living room of the house.

The official narrative would lead us to believe that this knife was used by Atkins to stab Voytek Frykowski several times in the leg and likely was 'lost' by Atkins when she and Frykowski fell into that chair during their scuffle. Per Atkins:

"Somehow he managed to turn my head, he [Frykowski] was still holding my hair and he was behind me. He fell in the chair behind me, that was next to the couch this way [indicating] and he was fighting and I was kicking him and I proceeded to stab him three or four times in the leg*****"

The First Homicide Report identifies the location where the knife was found.

"#4, A "Buck", clasp type knife found under the seat cushion of an overstuffed chair, which was located in the living room seven feet south of the north wall of the living room and four feet east of the west wall of the living room."

In this picture that is the chair marked by the arrow.

The only available evidence says that Atkins lost her knife sometime during the altercation with Frykowski. There was, indeed, a Buck folding knife found wedged in the chair. The problem is this knife apparently didn't stab anyone.

"Granado found the second knife in the living room, less than three feet from Sharon Tate’s body. It was wedged behind the cushion in one of the chairs, with the blade sticking up. A Buck brand clasp-type pocketknife, its blade was ¾ inch in diameter, 313/ 16 inches in length, making it too small to have caused most of the wounds. Noticing a spot on the side of the blade, Granado tested it for blood: negative."

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 42). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

There was no blood on the knife and according to Bugliosi, the size (diameter) of the knife blade does not match 'most of the wounds' (this will prove inacurate). There also apparently was no blood on the chair or the floor near the chair. One has to assume that somehow between striking Frykowski and ending up being discovered in the chair any blood was wiped from the blade.

And that probably happened. In his testimony Granado says he removed the knife from the chair and placed it on the wet bar behind the chair for the fingerprint guys. When he got it back it was covered in fingerprint 'dust'. So it is possible any blood was removed in that process. Granado seems to lay the blame there in his testimony.

One would hope that Granado et al, confronted with multiple stab wounds on multiple victims and finding a 'random' knife, would take extra care to check the knife and location for blood and maybe even try to track down its origin. Remember, LAPD sent a detective all the way to Massachusetts to check on a story by a suspect about purchasing a Buck knife. It appears, instead, that the knife was 'mishandled'.

What we do know is that whomever wielded this knife did a bit more damage then Atkins (or Bugliosi) would lead us to believe.

Per Frykowski's autopsy report:


The left leg shows 8 stab wounds.


These stab wounds are similar. Each measures ¾ of an inch in length and about 1 inch to 1-1/2 inches in depth. They are perpendicular to the skin surface. None are fatal."

These wounds fit this knife and at first look corroborate Atkins' story. But do they really?

Naguchi later testifies that three of these wounds are to the back of Frykowski's left leg and five are to the front of his leg.

At least to me the 3/4 inch blade of the Buck knife inflicted all of these wounds. That would seem to support the theory that this was the knife used by Atkins in her struggle with Frykowski because she admits stabbing him in the leg or at least stabbing 'something' behind her.

But a review of Frykowski's autopsy report quickly reveals that this same knife could also have inflicted all of the wounds to Frykowski's back.


Stab wound #1 ***** This stab wound measures ½ inch and shows one sharp medial edge, one dull lateral edge. The depth of this stab wound is ¾ inch.

Stab wound #2***** The depth of the wound is ¾ inch and it measures ¾ inch by size.*****

Stab wound #3***** This wound measures 3-1/2 inches deep and it measures ¾ inch in length and shows one sharp upper edge and one dull lower edge. The deepest portion of this wound penetrates one inch into the posterior portion of the left lung.

Stab wound #4*****This wound measures 3-1/2 inches in depth and measures one inch in length. It shows two different edges, one sharp lower edge and a dull upper edge, the deepest penetration of this wound goes into the posterior aspect of the right lung.

Stab wound #5 ***** This wound measures 3-1/2 inches in depth and it measures ¾ inch in length. It shows two different edges, one sharp lower edge and one dull upper edge. This wound penetrates as deep as the left kidney.

Wounds #3, #4 and #5 are 3/4 inch or one inch in length and deeply penetrating. A larger width knife could not inflict these wounds. A one inch blade cannot inflict a deep 3/4 inch wound. A 3/4 inch blade if used in a particular fashion could possibly inflict the one inch wound.

Naguchi testified that wounds #3 and #4 were 'fatal wounds' meaning they would be fatal if medical treatment was not received. He later, on cross examination, opined that treatment had to happen within 10 to 15 minutes.

Naguchi: There were five stab wounds on the back. These again are labeled 1 through 5.

No. 2 is located in the vicinity of stab wound No.1 but is slightly below the location of stab wound No.1. It measures, I believe three-quarters on an inch in length, penetrating into the right lung. I would say this would be a fatal wound.

No 3 was found on the left side of the mid-back. It measured one inch in length, penetrating deep into the left chest cavity, piercing the left lung. I would consider this also a fatal wound.

Obviously,  Naguchi confused the wounds. His testimony describes wounds #2 and #3 as fatal wounds. From the autopsy report #2 clearly would not be fatal. He has confused #3 and #4 from the report and referred to them as #2 and #3 during his testimony. But from the descriptions you can figure out what he means (even if he also gets the 'lungs' wrong).

Is the knife long enough to inflict these wounds? Yes.

Q: By Mr. Bugliosi: Showing you the large blow-up, does it appear to be an enlargement of the small photograph, People’s 122?

A: [By Granado]: Yes.

Next I move on to G27, which is a buck-type knife, which closes up—it is a pocket type knife, buck, having a three-quarter inch diameter blade 3-13/16 length blade.

The blade is 3 and 13/16 inches (or nearly four inches) in length. The wounds are 3-8/16 deep.

So it seems that Atkins minimized her assault on Frykowski when she testified before the Grand Jury and was interviewed by Caballero/Caruso. In fact, it appears she likely was directly responsible for Frykowski's death.

Assuming Atkins attacked Frykowski first and Watson attacked second and she used this knife, she inflicted these wounds before Watson joined the attack and two were fatal. He had 15 minutes to live. It is fair to say Atkins stabbed Frykowski to death.

Perhaps Atkins gave a clue to what really happened after she decided to tell practically anyone who would listen to her about the crimes while she was being held in jail on the Hinman case. Virginia Graham testified that Atkins said she had, in fact, attacked Frykoski as he fled.

Q: After Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring entered the living room, what did Susan Atkins say took place?

A: She said that the other man-

Q: Now, when you say 'other man,' did she indicate that this was a man other than Jay Sebring?

A: Yes, sir, she did.

Q: What did she say about this other man?

A: She said that the other man ran past her, and as he ran past her she stabbed him four or five times. He got to the door and he started screaming for help. He got out onto the front lawn and he was screaming, 'Help, help, somebody please help!' And with this she put her hand on her hip and she said to me, 'And would you believe that he was screaming "Help, help," and nobody came?'

If Frykowski at some point did run past Atkins and she did attack him, logically, those wounds would be to his back. Wounds #3 and #4 are to Frykowski's back.

No other wounds on any other victim measure 3/4 inch. This supports the theory that Atkins lost this knife at about this time- during her altercation with Frykowski- after inflicting these wounds.

There is, of course, another problem with Atkins' testimony if we view the altercation between Atkins and Frykowski, logically and compare that to her story. Atkins claims Frykowski was behind her and grabbed her hair. She claims she swung the knife backwards and hit 'something'.

Atkins: Somehow he got hold of my hair and pulled it very hard and I was screaming for Tex to help me, or somebody to help me, and Frykowski, he was also screaming. Somehow he got behind me and I had the knife in my right hand and I was -- I was -- I don't know where I was at but I was just swinging with the knife and I remember hitting something four, five times repeatedly behind me. I didn't see what it was that I was stabbing." Susan Atkins Grand Jury Testimony (Kindle Locations 557-558). Kindle Edition.

If Atkins was standing with her back to Frykowski with the knife in her right hand, as described, she would logically strike his right leg not his left leg unless she was swinging across her body (a difficult maneuver). She also logically would strike the front of his leg under either scenario. Frykowski has no wounds to his right leg and three of the wounds inflicted by this knife to his left leg are to the back of his leg a location she can't possibly reach based upon her description (unless Frykowski is doing the Twist). I can't see how she could inflict any of those wounds standing with her back to Frykowski.

The autopsy reports suggest that Atkins' story is not at all, accurate. It is probable that she was  facing Frykowski at one point (when she struck his left leg) and at another point was likely behind him stabbing him in the back (fatally) and the left leg several times.

The Other One

Very little is known about this knife but it was the probably the knife used by Watson. The autopsy reports suggest that this knife had a 1 to 1.5 inch wide blade.

If the blade was 1.5 inches in width this knife inflicted the fatal wounds on Sharon Tate and all of the wounds on Jay Sebring as well as seven stab wounds on Abigail Folger. (Sharon Tate also had eight, one inch wounds to her back.) This is consistent with the official narrative and places the knife in Watson's hands: stabbing first Sebring, then Folger and lastly, Sharon Tate. Based on that narrative this knife should also be responsible for many of the wounds inflicted on Frykowski.

Oddly, none of the wounds to Voytek Frykowski match this knife as a 1.5 inch blade. Aside from the 3/4" wounds (discussed above) the autopsy reveals the following wounds (length):

Back: one (1") and one (.5")

Anterior Trunk: five (1"), two (1.25"), one (.5") and one (.25")

Left Arm: sixteen (1")

Right Arm: three (1")

None of these wounds initially appear to result from the third knife.

I can offer no solid explanation for this anomaly. A smaller knife could inflict a larger wound and depending on the taper to the point any knife could inflict a smaller wound if it is superficial. A larger knife should not be able to inflict a smaller deeply penetrating wound. If Watson's knife had a 1.5 inch blade the remaining wounds to Frykowski are too small.

I would have expected at least some of Frykowski's wounds to be 1.5 inches or larger like those suffered by Jay Sebring, Sharon Tate and Abigail Folger. They are not.

Is it possible the knives changed hands multiple times? Perhaps, but the opportunity for this to occur is missing from the official narrative and, of course, no one says that happened. If Krenwinkel had the taped knife (one inch blade-capable of inflicting these wounds) Krenwinkel is never described as being near Frykowski giving Watson an opportunity to receive her knife.

Of course it is also possible this third knife had a one inch blade and not a blade 1.5 inches in diameter, but then the multiple, uniform 1.5 inch wounds from a larger blade on three victims become the anomaly.

Another explanation could be an error in the autopsy report.  Russell Henry performed the autopsy on Abigail Folger and Jay Sebring. Thomas Naguchi performed Sharon Tate's autopsy and Gaston Herrera performed Voytek Frykowski's. It could be that Herrera 'read' the ruler (literally) wrong although confusing an inch with an inch and a half is a pretty big error when the goal is to record the wounds in case a murder weapon turns up. Then again Herrera initially missed the second gunshot wound to Frykowski.

At the time of the autopsies Naguchi didn't know how many weapons he was dealing with so the anomaly would likely not have drawn his attention even if he saw it.

The physical evidence goes a long way towards answering one question: it is probable the "Buck" knife with it's 3/4 inch blade did not kill Sharon Tate. Bugliosi knew this and yet persisted, right to the end, in believing Atkins stabbed Sharon Tate. She did not. The knife that killed Sharon Tate likely also wounded Sebring and Folger.

Testimony of Thomas Naguchi, MD

Naguchi testified at the trial and concluded that the weapon or weapons used in the murders had a blade of one to one and a half inches in width.

Q: What is the width of the blade?

A: Yes, I have an opinion.

Q: Okay. What is your opinion on that?

A: The width of the stabbing weapon can be calculated from the stab wound on the surface of the skin. Many had a one-inch length. Others had one and a half inches.

Q: From one to one and a half inches?

A: So that my opinion would be, as a maximum width would be between one inch and one and a half inches.

His testimony is interesting. Naguchi follows the appropriate procedure when examining an expert even though Bugliosi fails to do so. It is also kind of humorous that with all of Kanarek's objections there is none here when Bugliosi's question is objectionable.

The first question (above) should be 'do you have an opinion regarding the width of the murder weapon?' Naguchi actually answers that question even though it is not asked. He knows the drill. He simply says 'Yes, I have an opinion.' Naguchi then offers the basis for his opinion without being asked- the skin surface wound- Bugliosi should have asked that question next. Naguchi answers the unasked question for Bugliosi again. He then delivers his opinion regarding the maximum width.

Naguchi does not mention the 3/4 inch deeply penetrating wounds to Frykoski or those to Frykowski's left leg while he discussed the possible murder weapon (above). There is no way to prove it but this omission may relate to Bugliosi's belief Atkins killed Sharon Tate. The knife found in the chair has a 3/4 inch blade. Mentioning this fact might possibly alert the defense to the fact that knife likely did not inflict any wounds on Sharon Tate. And that might have been used by the defense to question Virginia Graham's testimony. Mr. Shin does not follow up on this issue (and neither do any other defense counsel) when cross examining Naguchi. Also notice Naguchi says 'maximum' width. He, at least recognized the 3/4 inch wounds existed. To me that is rather ironic: if Bugliosi avoided the 3/4 inch blade because of his desire to connect Atkins with Sharon Tate he missed the evidence that rather closely ties her to inflicting fatal wounds on Frykowski. If the knife found in the chair is Atkins' knife and it has a 3/4 inch blade it (and by extension Atkins') she fatally stabbed Frykowski.

Other Corroboration

There is one way to further corroborate that (1.) Atkins did not stab Sharon Tate and (2.) she did fatally wound Frykowski: People's Exhibit #39 (the knife). If we had a clear image of the knife we could determine if it was sharp on both sides. I was unable to locate such an image. Naguchi testified that the wounds to Sharon Tate were made by a weapon that either was sharpened on both edges or at least partially sharpened on both edges (Bugliosi asks Kasabian about sharpening knives for this reason). The fatal wounds to Frykowski are, per the autopsy report, from a single edged blade (note the 'dull' reference to the edge of the wounds above). If People's #39 is sharpened only on the cutting edge this would tend to confirm both theories.

This knife (right) is not People's #39 but it is a Buck #110 or a mock-off of a Buck #110, like People's #39.

This knife is not sharpened on both edges. Note that if you move the six inch ruler (left) to line up with the tip of the blade the blade is nearly four inches long.

[As an interesting aside Krenwinkel was asked at her most recent parole hearing whether she stabbed Sebring. She was not asked about stabbing Tate or Frykowski. Why Sebring? Why did the DA ask the question? It's a seemingly random question from the DA that makes you go hmmmm- and think about those Tex Tapes- either that or the DA just doesn't know what she's talking about, which is equally plausible since she also said Kasabian slit the screen....unless she did and the tapes say so...hmmm.]

Hercule Poirot: "For me it is truth. I want always truth."

So here is what I believe happened.

Watson's statements about the Devil and killing everyone would have heightened the stress in that room beyond belief. That would begin to trigger nature's reaction: fight or flight.  Shooting and then stabbing Jay Sebring triggered a flight response in two of the victims. It likely also caused Sharon Tate to 'freeze'- go into shock.

Atkins' statement about people going through 'changes' seems to confirm that fact. Then Watson tells Atkins to kill Frykowski. She hesitates and he gets free of his bonds and heads for the door- flight.

Atkins then strikes, stabbing Frykokowski five times in the back and in the back of the left leg, somewhere near the north end of the couch. Perhaps at that time he also feels as though he is blocked by the blue trunks and determines to fight.

Confronted with the attack and  his effort to flee blocked, Frykowski now turns to 'fight'. He turns on his assailant and grabs her hair pulling her head back as she proceeds to stab him in the leg (now facing him but her head pulled back so she can't see what she is hitting). He disengages from her perhaps by falling into the chair at the north end of the living room on top of her or he pushes her there. She loses her knife and ends up on the floor. He then heads for the door, wounded and reeling, probably with some sense of his injuries, knocking over the blue trunks

PAUL CARUSO: Frykowski was going out, wasn’t he?

SUSAN ATKINS: Yes, but I don’t ‘remember because I was on the floor.

He attempts to escape, and now Watson attacks, firing two shots and pursuing.

Meanwhile, Abigail Folger makes her escape- again, a natural response-flight. She, in part, is taking an unconscious cue from Frykowski. Her 'partner' flees. She flees. Abigail wrestles with Krenwinkel but can't control her and is wounded, perhaps several times. She then disengages and flees again like Frykowski.

It should be noted that while Atkins testifies about Watson's assault on Abigail- going to help Krenwinkel and stabbing Folger- Watson does not confirm this event in his book, which allegedly was drawn from the November 1969 Tex Tapes. This (below) is his first mention of Abigail Folger after the chaos ensues.

"As Frykowski sank down on the flagstones, Sadie yelled that someone was getting away. I looked across the lawn and saw Abigail Folger dashing toward the fence with Katie behind her, knife raised. Blood was already streaking the white nightgown." Will You Die For Me?

Of further interest is the fact Atkins never 'narcs' on Krenwinkel. Not once in her Grand Jury testimony or her Caruso/Cabellero interview or in her admissions as told by Virginia Graham or Ronnie Howard that I could find does she ever describe Krenwinkel specifically stabbing anyone. Instead she implicates only Watson.

Frykowski heads for the door, Watson in pursuit and Folger heads for the pool, Krenwinkel in pursuit. Atkins gets up from the floor, now alone with Sharon Tate [until Kasabian enters the room]. A few moments later Watson and Krenwinkel return.

And justice

While writing this post any doubt in my mind that Atkins (now deceased), Krenwinkel and Watson should ever receive parole vanished. While all of the murders were brutal, the murder of Sharon Tate was simply horrifying.

Consider for a moment: she sits in that room having watched the carnage around her, her closest support lies on the floor mortally wounded.  She likely heard what occurred on the lawn. One sits there goading her 'I have no mercy for you, bitch'. Then she hears these monsters return and discuss her fate. The crazy eyed one snarls "Shut up, you bitch". The other one hisses 'kill her'. The third responds 'Katie said kill her'. The first then says 'she can't'. And by his own admission Watson's first blow was knowingly 'non-fatal' -to her face, designed to silence her- perhaps not unlike a similar blow to Abigail Folger. 

The inmates......"Lack a depth of insight into the grisly crimes"