Friday, April 20, 2018

MansonBlog Tour 2018: Paying Respects

Day one: MansonBlog visited a few of the memorials that we have missed in our previous visits. First would be TLB's first victim, Steven Earl Parent. Parent dies first at Cielo Drive on August 9, 1969. He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Parent is interred at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Rowland Heights, CA. It is a blue collar but well maintained memorial park.

We immediately noticed that flowers are not allowed to be placed on Thursday prior to 3:00 PM. The reason being that the park is mowed on Thursdays. We arrived at noon. We paid our respects regardless.

Parent left home at early in the morning for his job at a plumbing supply shop: Valley City Supply. He returned home in the late afternoon to change his shirt and drive to LA to his second job at Jonas Miller Stereo not far from Jay Sebring's hair salon where he worked until about 9:00 p.m.. From there he drove back to El Monte to visit a friend who worked either at Dale's Gas Station or the nearby grocery store named Fry's and asked his friend who worked their if he wanted to go for a drive. His friend asked if he could come back when he got off work at about 11:30 p.m. Steven declined and proceeded to Cielo Drive.

We then travelled the 26 miles to Angeles Abbey Memorial Park in Compton. To set the scene, this is adjacent to Watts and Crenshaw. All are poor neighborhoods. The cemetery is what can best be described as a potters field. The lawns are non existent. Burned and parched at best. As we searched for the grave of Donald Jerome Shea, we saw memorials that were covered in sand from moles and other ground-born critters. Graves of young children long since forgotten. Some of which we brushed off debris with our hands as we paid our respects.

We surmised that these plots, which in Parent's well maintained memorial park differed from Angeles Abbey in that one plot equals six. In the same plot that at Queen of Heaven contains one soul, here contains the remains of six people. The city of Compton, in an effort to bury the indigent has interred six people into a single grave. Six cremated people are buried at the same time in one place. If your family could not afford the plate bolted to the grave marker then you are only recorded in the sexton's office - an entry in a book.

As we understand it, Scott Michaels of Dearly Departed Tours paid to have Shorty Shea's name and dates attached to the marker. Thank you, Scott. A noble gesture to a victim of a horrible crime. There are six people interred here, only two are acknowledged.

Last on our stops was Vincent Bugliosi, prosecutor of the TLB killers. He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale CA. It is an immaculately maintained, scenic resting place in what can best be described as a gated community for the dead. The lawns are green, manicured and attractive.

Bugliosi's plot is on a protected, celebrity list - meaning that the sexton's office will not tell you where it is. But, MansonBlog was able to locate it. Here is the marker:

Hi, Col!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Charles Manson's music was a macabre sidenote

By Mark Savage
BBC Music reporter

20 November 2017

Manson's music was not especially well-received
Charles Manson, the cult leader of the Manson Family, who directed his followers to commit a string of brutal murders in 1969, was one of the most reviled figures in American culture.

A grifter who'd spent most of his adult life in jail, he orchestrated a killing spree with the intention of sparking a race war.

But his original intention when he arrived in California was to become a musician.

A macabre fascination with his music has persisted ever since. Bands like Guns N' Roses, The Lemonheads and Marilyn Manson have covered his songs; while bootleg recordings of his demos, which began circulating during his trial, are now widely available.

Manson's psychedelic brand of folk music was not, it has to be said, very good.

His guitar playing was basic, his lyrics disorganised, and his stylistic debt to The Beatles thinly disguised (sitar sounds are strewn across his recordings with wilful disregard).

Still, he made enough of an impression on his contemporaries to come close to securing a recording contract.

Manson, who learned guitar in prison, first arrived in California in 1967 and soon met prominent musicians including Neil Young, Dennis Wilson, and Doris Day's son, the record producer Terry Melcher.

Manson's demos were released during his trial in 1970
Young, in particular, was impressed by what he heard.

"He had this kind of music that nobody else was doing," he told rock writer Bill Flanagan.

"He would sit down with the guitar and start playing and make up stuff, different every time.

"Musically I thought he was very unique. I thought he really had something crazy, something great. He was like a living poet."

John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas was less enthusiastic. Asked on several occasions to record with Manson, the singer recalled: "I'd just shudder every time. I'd say, 'no, I think I'll pass'."

Manson's closest brush with musical fame came after Gary Hinman, a music teacher who would later be one of the family's victims, introduced him to Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys.

Wilson took one of Manson's songs, Cease To Exist, and turned it into the Beach Boys' song Never Learn Not To Love - taking a full writing credit for himself, after changing some of the lyrics and adding the band's famous harmonies.

Manson reportedly received a one-off payment and a motorcycle in exchange for the rights to the song, but he came to resent Wilson's "theft".

In a sinister preface to his later crimes, he left a bullet on the drummer's bed.

"I gave Dennis Wilson a bullet, didn't I? I gave him a bullet because he changed the words to my song," Manson later told US TV presenter Diane Sawyer in an interview.

The Beach Boys released Never Learn Not To Love on their 1969 album 20/20
Manson perhaps restrained himself from taking further action because Wilson, as well as letting the Family stay at his house, had promised to introduce Manson to Melcher, who had assisted The Beach Boys on their Pet Sounds album.

The producer agreed to watch him perform at Spahn Ranch in May 1969 - but left unimpressed, declining to work with him.

After that, things quickly turned dark.

Manson became convinced that Armageddon was coming. He believed that the race riots of 1968 and the Black Panther movement were the start of a race war.

Increasingly paranoid, he gleaned what he believed were clues in the Biblical book of Revelation and the Beatles' White Album, in songs such as Piggies, Blackbirds and Helter Skelter.

He staged his killings to make it look like they had been committed by black militants, naming his plan Helter Skelter after Lennon and McCartney's song.

The first killing took place on 25 July 1969, when Manson sent three members of the Family to Hinman's house. After being held hostage for two days, Hinman was stabbed to death.

On 8 August, Manson sent four people to Melcher's house, with instructions to kill everyone they found. However, the producer had moved out, and film director Roman Polanski now had possession of the property.

The gang burst in and killed four people, including Polanski's pregnant wife, Sharon Tate.

Despite the horror of his crimes, Manson somehow became a celebrity. While on trial, he carved an X on his forehead and relished his role as an anti-hero, ranting for the cameras, making crazy demands and threats.

Marilyn Manson chose his stage name to reflect Charles Manson, while Kasabian are named after a member of the cult
While in custody, he asked Phil Kaufman, who he had met in a previous prison incident, to see that his music was released.

Unsurprisingly, no record label would touch the recordings - but Kaufman raised the money to get an LP pressed up, and it was distributed by Awareness Records, the same label that put out Bob Dylan's The Great White Wonder, widely considered to be rock's first bootleg.

The album was titled Lie: The Love and Terror Cult - a play on the Life Magazine cover of the same title from December 1969. In the 1970s and 80s, it became a collector's item in the punk and metal scenes - and it is now widely available on streaming services.

There's a morbid fascination with the recordings, and people search for clues to Manson's horrific crimes in the lyrics.

Such clues are few and far between - but his language paints an eerily accurate picture of the methods he used to manipulate the members of his cult.

"Think you're loving baby, but all you're doing is crying... Are those feelings real?" he sings on Look At Your Game Girl, which "embodies Manson's fundamental approach to influencing young women by targeting their socially imposed hang-ups and implying that his way is better and more liberating", wrote music critic Theodore Grenier.

The ominously-titled People Say I'm No Good, meanwhile, is little more than a rant about society's double standards, a theme that is echoed on Mechanical Man and Garbage Dump (which criticises food waste and advocates dumpster diving, years before it became a cause celebre).

So in the end, Manson's musical ambitions amounted to nothing more than a footnote.

And while the likes of Marilyn Manson (who named himself after the criminal) sought to associate themselves with his evil acts, others came to regret it.

Axl Rose, who wore a "Charlie Don't Surf" t-shirt featuring Manson's face on Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusion tour, later sought to distance himself from the cult leader, donating profits from a cover of Look at Your Game, Girl to charity.

"I wore the t-shirt because a lot of people enjoy playing me as the bad guy and the crazy," he said in a statement. "Sorry, I'm not that guy. I'm nothing like him. There's a real difference in morals, values and ethics between Manson and myself ... He's a sick individual."

But perhaps the best response to Manson's musical aspirations came from Bono.

"This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles," he said, while introducing a live version of Helter Skelter on U2's Rattle and Hum.

"We're stealing it back."

Monday, April 2, 2018

Willett Distillery

A while back Patty did a POST on the Willett distillery, complete with a taste test!  Today we will update on what is happening with the distillery today.

The March 2018 issue of Food and Wine magazine featured Drew Kulsveen, the distiller at Willett, in one of their articles.  Drew would be James Willett's nephew, son of James sister Martha.

LINK to our many posts on James and Lauren Willett.

Drew Kulsveen   Master Distiller   Willett Distillery
Bourbon's Boy Genius

At Willett Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, fifth-generation master distiller Drew Kulsveen is making some of the world's most sought-after whiskeys.

Betsy Andrews

Ask Drew Kulsveen whose bourbon, besides his own, he likes to drink, and he'll demur. "I don't want to go on the record," he says, "or people will start chasing after it." Kulsveen's opinion matters that much, because in the world of American whiskey, he's a bona fide celebrity.

Kulsveen grew up playing amid his grandfather's rickhouses in the "Bourbon Capital of the World,"

Bardstown, Kentucky. Today, Willett is among Kentucky's last significant family-owned distilleries, and Kulsveen, 36, is its master distiller. It's a huge responsibility because Willett is legendary, yet for 30 years, during a long downturn in the bourbon market, the family distilled nothing. Now, the stills are operative again, expectations among whiskey lovers are fierce, and demand couldn't be higher. "We're running 24 hours a day, making as much bourbon as we physically can," Kulsveen says during a recent visit. For operations like Jim Beam, which distills nearly 40 times as much, Willett's 1,000 barrels a month is "a drop in the bucket," says Kulsveen, "but it's a lot for us."

Kulsveen strikes a different profile than other Kentucky distillers. He is so charismatic, says Fred Minnick, author of Bourbon: The Rise, Fall and and Rebirth of an American Whiskey, that "when he started making public appearances, he ruined it for everybody else."

Still, Kulsveen stays humble. "Distilling's not rocket science," he says. "As long as you use the right ingredients and pay attention, you can have a good product."

We are in Willett's limestone-columned distillery watching the contents of a 10,000-gallon fermenter roil. Gorging on the sugars in a soup of grains and water, yeast sends foaming ripples across the oatmeal-colored liquid. It is transforming the mash into beer that later will be rendered into alcohol in two huge stills: a gnome-shaped copper pot still, antique-looking but new; and a stainless-steel column still with a colorful past. Manufactured for the old Kentucky brand Waterfill and Frazier, the still wound up in Mexico during Prohibition, where it was used to make contraband. Drew's father, Even Kulsveen, bought it for a steal.

The column-still purchase is one chapter in a storied history that has led Drew Kulsveen to this moment. It starts in the 17th century with Cognac-producing ancestors. The Willetts were French Protestants who escaped persecution from the Catholic church by moving to America. They settled in Kentucky, where they got into bourbon making in the late 19th century. Prohibition was a temporary setback. More significant was the blow dealt by vodka when James Bond's "shaken, not stirred" martini helped vodka top spirits sales by the 1970s. Seen as old-fashioned, bourbon lost popularity. By 1981, Kulsveen's grandfather had leased his stills to an ethanol producer that then went bankrupt, leaving only ruined equipment behind.

Drew's father Even took over a few years later. His son joined him in 2004. But it took them until 2012 to start distilling again. In the lull, Willett became a cult NDP, or Non-Distilling Producer.

"We were taking odd lots from Four Roses, Jim Beam"—forgotten casks and ones with flavors that couldn't be blended into standard labels. "Anything under a few hundred barrels, we'd scoop it up," Kulsveen recalls. Willett used the whiskey to make its own brands, including woodsy, spicy Johnny Drum; Rowan's Creek, named for a rivulet that runs through the property; and Noah's Mill, named after the gristmill that stands over it. To yield their lauded flavors, says Kulsveen, 
"We got really good at blending."

Minnick confirms it: "They purchased well-aged stocks, let them mature, and would mingle them in small batches, so for the past 10 or 15 years, they put out some of the best product on the market." The whiskeys were coveted by aficionados partly because the operation was so tiny. For a long time, says Minnick, it remained "kind of a secret."

That's changed. With the comeback of classic cocktails, demand for bourbon reignited. Today, American whiskey sales top $3 billion annually. But distillers can't just bottle on demand; whiskey must age. And the overstocks that Willett relied on had dwindled by the time they were able to reboot the stills. "We would have been in a world of hurt if we had not started back up," says Kulsveen.

Rickhouse where the barrels of bourbon age
He leads me to one of the Willett rickhouses. With six stories of thick, wooden beams illuminated by southern sunlight seeping through small windows, the building holds 6,000 barrels of slowly aging bourbon and rye. Though Kulsveen intends to keep most of it for a decade or more, Willett has already released some of its own distillate in its cask-strength Family Estate bottlings as well as in the affordable Old Bardstown series. They're also slowly introducing it into their seven or so other brands.

Kulsveen takes a drill to a cask, capturing the stream in tulip-shaped glasses before stanching the flow with a wooden plug. "It's all about figuring out the different profiles of the barrels and how they meld together," says Kulsveen. "I want character. I want it to stand out."

We sniff, then sip. This is a five-year-old wheated bourbon and a new mash bill for Willett: 65 percent corn—the main grain in bourbon—plus 15 percent malted barley and 20 percent wheat. It is still young, the grain flavor not yet balanced by the wood, but it already tastes deliciously like orange marmalade on brioche toast.

Though the old family recipes are still in use, wheated bourbon, which is smoother and sweeter, drives Willett's distilling nowadays. There are more updates, too. In terms of distilling, Kulsveen is experimenting with stave curing and different barrel woods. At the new visitor center, overseen by Kulsveen's wife, Janelle, a bar will open this spring for cocktails, library pours, and small plates. And the gristmill and some cabins have been transformed into guesthouses.

New recipes, new hospitality—Kulsveen is balancing his heritage with innovation to create a Willett for the 21st century. I can already taste it in the glass: bourbon that's more approachable than in the past, yet deeply nuanced—handcrafted by a fifth-generation Kentucky distiller with the stomach to let each barrel sit until it hits its sweet spot. "Time is really the magical ingredient," he says, taking a sip. "You just have to wait, wait, wait."

Lambert Willett, far right, James father, 1960
The Willett Whiskeys

The new distillery at Willett is already yielding some great bottles. Go to for where to find them.

Willett Family Estate Bottled 3-Year Small Batch Rye ($45) The scent of this rye mixes maple with aromatic wood. Orangey and spicy with a touch of charcoal, it brings complexity to cocktails.

Willett Family Estate Bottled 5-Year Single Barrel Bourbon ($60) A crème brûlée palate mingles with mushroomy notes. It blooms with salted-caramel flavor when you add water.

Old Bardstown 90 Proof Bourbon ($20) Honey-roasted nuts on the nose yield to buttery flavor and notes of dried citrus in this smooth, easy (and affordable) sipper, ending in a lip-smacking finish.

Old Bardstown Bottled in Bond 100 Proof Bourbon ($22) A complex orange peel and ginger scent resolves into a caramel-corn sweetness here, with a balancing bitterness on the finish.

Old Bardstown Estate Bottled 101 Proof Bourbon ($28) A rich vanilla nose and an herbaceous midpalate—think of fresh-cut grass and soil—with bright endnotes of citrus zest in this potent drink.

James Willett is first, on the left, in the bottom row in this photo from 1965 when James was a student at the University of Kentucky/Lexington.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Preston Guillory Interview

Castscradle77's interview with Preston Guillory who participated in the Spahn Ranch raid. He also testified at the trial. Word of his passing was shared by Cats on Twitter recently. He died last August in New Mexico. Political leanings aside, it's a terrific interview. Enjoy.

Guillory later in life

Monday, March 19, 2018

TMZ publishes photo of deceased Manson

I don't really want to publish it here, but you can have a look for yourselves:


Deb (naturally) acquired the court's ruling on possession of Manson's remains, so here it is. Enjoy:

Monday, March 12, 2018

Body of Charles Manson awarded to Jason Freeman

Los Angeles (CNN)A court has decided that Charles Manson's body, after months sitting on ice, will go to Jason Freeman -- who says he is Manson's grandson.

 Read all about it here

The Sears Caper

The Canoga Park Sears 1964. The wrong Sears.
On the afternoon of Friday, August 8, 1969 Charles Manson sent
Mary Brunner and Sandra Good on a road trip to the Sears store in San Fernando, California. Depending on which version of the tale you believe the purpose of the trip was to either buy supplies for the upcoming murders including rope and lime to dispose of bodies or to buy a few trinkets to make the ‘girls’ happy and boost morale.

1030 Celis Street
The Sears store was located at 1030 Celis Street in San Fernando. At about 4:00 p.m. Brunner and Good parked in
the parking lot to the left in the image and entered the store. After acquiring a few items they proceeded to check out at a cash register where a Ms. Ramirez was working. Brunner made the purchase using a stolen credit card in the name of Mary Vitasek and signed the receipt 'Mary Vitasek' thereby adding the crime of forgery the the list. 

Apparently, one of the two women (Ed Sanders claims it was Sandra Good) was acting a bit hinkey, which caused Ms. Ramirez to check the card number against the 'warning list'. In 1969 this was no small feat. Lists of stolen credit cards (once they were reported by someone) were sent to merchants either in the mail or via telex if the store had that technology. From what I was able to determine the cards were listed by number (in numerical order) first and then by name. The lists came out once a week, typically arriving on Tuesdays.

Brand Boulevard 1960's
As Ed Sanders points out in The Family, had Bruner and Good left the store after the first purchase, they likely would have gotten away scot free. They didn’t.

Instead, they proceeded to another section of the store to buy more items. Ms. Ramirez found the card number on the list and alerted the store manager who attempted to detain Brunner and Good. The two fled the store with the manager close behind. The duo dashed to their ‘getaway car’ and raced from the Sears parking lot.

The manager ran to his own car and immediately gave chase. It is probable that rather than turning left from the parking lot and crossing traffic Brunner, driving the getaway vehicle, turned right towards Brand Boulevard and there turned right again heading down Brand Boulevard towards the freeways. 

At some point, I believe it was at the corner of Brand Boulevard and Laurel Canyon Boulevard (left), Brunner cut through a gas station, maybe where that Shell station stands today (to the right). The manager, undeterred, continued the chase.

Imagine this chase for just a moment. The dastardly duo racing down Brand Boulevard in a  1952 Ford, Continental Bakery, Hostess Twinkie delivery van. The van presented Good and Brunner with a bit of a problem. It is hard to imagine exactly how they thought they were going to escape notice and elude their pursuit. Brunner wasn’t likely to blend into the traffic driving that white van with a big Hostess Twinkie sign on the side.

It must have been quite the sight to
Not a 1952 Continental Bakery
Hostess Twinkie delivery van
any bystander: The seventeen year old Hostess Twinkie delivery van racing past, down Brand Boulevard in broad daylight driven by two young women. A few seconds later a typical American sedan (the police were not initially involved) following in hot pursuit as the van cuts the corner at Brand and Laurel Canyon bouncing through a gas station located there and then careens out into Laurel Canyon Boulevard.

At some point it must have dawned on the two outlaws that escape in their '52 Ford was unlikely. It was at this point that Good decided to toss the evidence. Ed Sanders claims Sandra Good tossed the stolen credit cards out the window of the van (although another version of the story claims the cards were found on the floor of the van). Sandra Good's last gasp effort to avoid conviction (or at least it was an effort not to be in possession of the stolen cards when arrested) probably explains the delay between about 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. that evening. Either that or the car accident or both. 

The San Diego Freeway 1960's
Approaching the San Diego Freeway (I-405) interchange in Chatsworth Brunner, Good and the white '52 Twinkie van careened out of control, likely taking a corner at say thirty-five miles per hour and crashed. Sanders claims that near the Chatsworth, San Diego Freeway interchange Brunner was involved in a fender bender. The chase was over. The authorities closed in and Brunner and Good were taken into custody together with a host of stolen credit cards and identification cards not belonging to either of the women. 

Initially, the pair were carted off to the hoosegow at the LAPD, West Valley Station in San Fernando. Since the West Valley Station did not have jail facilities much later they were transferred to Sybil Brand Institute for Women.

The Bail Money Motive

A 1952 Ford delivery van
The Sears Caper is the catalyst for a secondary motive: the need to raise $600 to get Brunner and Good out on bail.

Call it the Bail Money Motive.

“There were three basic motives behind the murders that took place sometime past midnight on August 9. The most obvious was the one Charlie had articulated to us that afternoon: to do what blackie didn't have the energy or the smarts to do — ignite Helter Skelter and bring in Charlie's kingdom. There was also the need for more cash, first of all to finance our preparations for Armageddon — the same thing that had motivated the drug burn and Bernard Crowe's supposed murder, the killing of Gary Hinman, and all the proposed abductions and murders in the Chatsworth area — and also to pay $600 bail for Mary Brunner, who had been arrested earlier that day for using a stolen Sears' credit card. If she had not been in custody, Mary would most likely have been the one sent with us that night, instead of Linda, since Mary had the other valid driver's license in the Family and had already proven herself at Gary Hinman's. Beyond getting money and bringing down Helter Skelter, there was a third, less important purpose: to clear Bobby Beausoleil of the Hinman slaying by committing a similar crime while he was in jail.”
Another 1952 Ford delivery van
“As we hurried away [from Cielo], I suddenly remembered that Charlie had told us to go on to other houses until we had $600.”

(Will You Die For Me. Charles Watson as told to Chaplain Ray Hoekstra. 1978)

“According to Linda Kasabian, on the afternoon of August 8 Manson gave Mary Brunner and Sandra Good a credit card and told them to purchase some items for him. At four that afternoon the two girls were apprehended while driving away from a Sears store in San Fernando, after store employees checked and found the credit card was stolen.”

Another 1952 Ford (technically Mercury but
Ford made the same design)
 delivery van
(Bugliosi, Vincent. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (25th Anniversary Edition) (p. 319). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.)

“By mid-afternoon [August 8th] the word came back that Brunner and Good had been arrested for trying to buy the supplies with a stolen credit card.”

(Atkins-Whitehouse, Susan. The Myth of Helter Skelter (Kindle Locations 1424-1426). Menelorelin Dorenay’s Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

[Aside: Atkins’ statement is clearly wrong. The pair were not arrested until after 4:00 p.m.]

“During the month of August, the days in southern California last until nine-thirty or ten o’clock in the evening. By the time we finished our dinner, it was almost dark. Mary and Sandy were still not home.”
“Shortly after ten o’clock the phone rang. It was Sandy. She and Mary had been arrested while shopping with the stolen credit cards. Squeaky took the call and relayed the bad news to me.”

(Emmons, Nuel. Manson in His Own Words (p. 198). Grove Atlantic. Kindle Edition.)

For the motive to be real one of the two women has to call Spahn Ranch a little after 10:00 p.m. on August 8th to inform the Family about their predicament. By at least one account that call was placed by Sandra Good and was received by Lynette Fromme. 

[Aside: Kasabian is pegged by Ed Sanders as the person who received the call two days earlier from Bobby Beausoleil informing the clan that he had been picked up for the Gary Hinman murder. That call allegedly triggered the copycat planning sessions and led to the murders. In fact, Sanders claims that Kasabian discussed the copycat idea with Beausoliel when he called the ranch. But I believe it is highly unlikely that phone call occurred as described by Sanders.]

A call from Good (or Brunner) has to be received at the ranch in time for the group (and allegedly Manson) to act on it. 10:00 p.m. is important because the killers have to leave Spahn Ranch to get to 10050 Cielo Drive by about midnight. 

Kasabian testified that the trip to Cielo Drive took a half hour or an hour. A Google map search the day I wrote this paragraph at 10:00 p.m. says the trip from Spahn Ranch to Cielo Drive should take 54 minutes. So likely a half hour is way too short. And given Atkins’ testimony before the Grand Jury that Watson got lost it probably took longer than an hour. 

“Q: Did Tex drive you directly to Terry Melcher's former residence?
A: We sort of got lost on the way. I think we took a wrong turn and ended up somewhere in Mulholland and we went directly there.”

Kasabian at TLB:

“Q. How long after you left Spahn Ranch did it take you to get to this house?
A. I don't know. I have no idea of time. Maybe a half hour or an hour.
Q. A half hour or an hour?
A. Yes.”

At the Watson trial Kasabian was a little more specific:

Q: How long did it take you to get to the place from Spahn Ranch?
A: I don't know. Not too long, I guess, but I don't know the time.
Q: Could you give us any idea? Did it take five minutes, four hours, an hour, what?
A: Probably around an hour, I guess.

But, of course figuring out exactly how long the drive actually lasted; when they left Spahn and when they arrived at Cielo Drive always suffers from Kasabian’s foggy memory regarding time. Maybe it is more fair to say she didn’t pay attention to time or have access to clocks so she didn’t know what time it was or how long something took.

[Oddly, at the Manson-Hinman/Shea trial Ella Jo Bailey didn't suffer from this time issue when she testified, identifying several 'times' and even saying dinner was at 6:00 p.m.]

Starting at the other end helps a bit. Rudolf Weber places them at his house at 1:00 a.m. Jerrold Friedman placed Parent’s phone call to him that night at 11:45 p.m. So, a pretty safe estimate has the killers arriving at Cielo Drive right about midnight plus or minus a few minutes. Some claim Parent's clock radio  frozen at 12:15 p.m. identifies the time he left the guest house. So that would place the killers' climbing the gate at about 12:20 a.m. after walking back up the hill. That puts them first arriving back around midnight. At least it is safe to say that the killers were not at Cielo at 11:45.

[Aside: Jerrold Friedman aka David Jerrold wrote The Trouble With Tribbles original Star Trek episode in 1967.]

That means they probably left Spahn sometime between 10:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. And that is why the phone call has to have been made, as the official narrative claims, shortly after but not too long after 10:00 p.m. By 11:00 p.m. no one is there to receive any instructions.

$600 Bail

The motive assumes there was a need for about $600 bail money. My first question was whether Brunner or Good would have known that evening that their bail was going to be about $600?

Judges are responsible for setting bail and it usually happens at the first court appearance. But because many people want to get out of jail immediately (instead of waiting for a day or longer to see a judge), most jails have standard bail schedules that specify bail amounts for common crimes. An arrested person can often get out of jail quickly by paying the amount set forth in the stationhouse bail schedule if their crime is on the schedule.  

Were forgery and burglary ‘common crimes’ in 1969 and thus on the posted schedule? I don’t know but they are on the LA Felony Bail Schedule, today. So I think Good and Brunner might have been able to figure out their bail. But, frankly, I don't think they did.

The Right to A Phone Call

My second question was did they even have a right to make a phone call?

There is a misconception shared by many people that you have a Constitutional right to make a phone call after your arrest. This likely finds its way into our collective understanding because of TV crime dramas. 

There is no Constitutional right to a phone call. Any such right is a creation of state law. In 1969 California had such a law and it provides some circumstantial evidence regarding what may have happened (or may not have happened) after Brunner and Good were arrested.

Here is the phone call statute (California Penal Code Section 851.5) circa 1969. It does not read the same today.

" (a.) Any person arrested has, immediately after he is booked, and, except where physically impossible, no later than three hours after his arrest, the right to make, at his own expense, in the presence of a public officer or employee, at least two telephone calls from the police station or other place at which he is booked, one completed to the person called, who may be his attorney, employer, or a relative, the other completed to a bail bondsman. 

(b.) Any public officer or employee who deprives an arrested person of his rights granted by this section is guilty of a misdemeanor. 

The first thing we learn from the statute is that Brunner and Good had the right to make two phone calls immediately after being ‘booked’ and no later than three hours after their arrest.

If the police refused to allow the calls the officer could face criminal (misdemeanor) charges.

If the call was placed at about 10:00 p.m. the call was not placed within three hours of arrest unless the arrest happened after 7:00 p.m. And while that could have been the time of the arrest (Sears closed at 9:00 p.m.) the official narrative says the events took place during the late afternoon, shortly after 4:00 p.m. So, it is likely that the ‘physically impossible’ clause in the statute came into play.

This delay may have been due to the accident or perhaps retrieving the tossed credit cards. It is not likely the cops would stop at a pay phone to allow the call.

Would Brunner or Good Make the Call?

This was my first real question when I started looking at this. I don’t think they would call because of that statute there.

During the Manson-Hinman/Shea trial Deputy John Stephen Sheehan (LASO) testified as an identification witness. His purpose at that trial was to identify Danny DeCarlo as the person who signed his booking slip with the name Richard Allen Smith after his Spahn Raid arrest. In the Hinman trial that name was important because Richard Allen Smith also was the individual who purchased the gun used in the Hinman crime. The goal was to connect the gun to Manson. 

During the course of his testimony Sheehan also may have shed some light on how the phone call process occurred in 1969. At the end of the booking process DeCarlo was offered his phone call and signed his booking slip either declining or requesting the calls. 

Q (Manzella): Now did Mr. Smith or the person you also knew as Mr. DeCarlo, did he sign the document, People’s 74, the booking record in your presence?
A: Yes, he did.
Q: Did he sign it once or more than once on the document?
A: He signed it more than once.
A: He signed it—he signed it up here for his phone call.
Q: You’re talking about in the upper right-hand portion, where it says “Prisoner phone call”?
A: That is correct.
Q: And where else did he sign it?
A: He signed it down in the portion below that, where it says “Prisoner’s complete signature.”
Q: And did he sign it anywhere else on the form?

A: Yes, he did. He signed it down on the property portion of the booking slip in the lower left corner.

I don’t know if the process was the same for LAPD but I think it is safe to say that it was at least very similar. Whether Brunner or Good requested their calls is unknown but we do know how it would have happened.

First, they would not be allowed to call anyone they wanted. Call #1 can be made to an attorney, a relative or an employer. Call #2 can be made to a bail bondsman.

For Brunner or Good to have made the call to Spahn they would have had to request the calls when offered at the end of the booking process but also would have had the have the presence of mind to claim that someone at Spahn was a relative. While it is common to refer to the group as The Family or The Manson Family today there were no actual relatives at Spahn. I’m not sure they would think to lie about that on the spot. If told they could call a relative, lawyer or employer they very well might have declined the calls.

But there is another reason I don’t think they would make the call.

Brunner and Good had the right to make the calls in the presence of a public officer or employee. In other words, a cop is listening when you make the calls.

You have no expectation of privacy during these calls as long as you have been warned someone may be listening. This is the case even if you object to them listening. The terms under which the calls could be made was likely explained when they signed the form. The signature is to verify the prisoner was told of his rights (and thus avoid a possible misdemeanor). I think it is safe to say the police were not likely to liberally construe the statute.

Do the police listen to these calls? Of course they do.

"Here are some circumstances that I have experienced from inmate phone calls or visitations: In several instances inmates get wrapped up in their conversations and forget the call or visitation is being recorded. In others, inmates who are scared try reaching out to anyone they can and in their haste while trying to seek help say something meaningful. It might be an inmate asking someone for an alibi to cover their tracks or hide potential evidence, it could be an “apologetic” confession to a parent, relative or boyfriend/girlfriend, it could be an argument between an inmate and someone else where the inmate says something valuable in the heat of the moment or it could be some disparaging remarks about the police investigation. Whatever their motivation and despite the given warnings, I assure you inmates talk and as an investigator, if you are not taking advantage of this investigative resource, you really should!" 
"Just as important as what an inmate says is who an inmate is calling or who might be visiting. Like cell phone records, when examining the incoming and outgoing phone numbers associated with a particular inmate, jail and visitation calls as well as visitation logs can help investigators link other people and locations to the inmate or a particular crime."

(Moe Greenberg. Inmate Communications: An Investigative Source. Detective's Notebook, January 31, 2012)

Would Brunner or Good have called Spahn to discuss their arrest for being in possession of multiple stolen credit cards and IDs with a police officer hovering over them and listening?  I don't think so, especially given Manson's golden rule: keep your mouth shut.  

Who they called might give the police insight into possible accomplices in a ring of credit card thieves. If they don't make the call nothing else ties them directly to Spahn Ranch. Aside from stupidity, I can't imagine why Brunner and Good would call Spahn under the circumstances thereby creating the connection and giving the police the phone number and location of what were, indeed, accomplices.

[Aside: This is also where the Beausoleil call I mentioned above has problems. Would Beausoleil have discussed his arrest for the murder of Gary Hinman and a plan to get him off by copycat murders with a cop listening? Again, I don't think so. That doesn't mean the copycat motive isn't 'real' but it does mean the alleged Kasabian initiated conversation on the topic of copycat murders probably didn't happen.]

If the statute was enforced as it is written I don’t think Brunner or Good would make that call. I found nothing to suggest the police were not present, recording or eavesdropping when suspects made those calls. In fact, everything (including the words of the statute) suggests that the opposite is true.

Could Brunner or Good Make the Call?

Remember the call has to be made shortly after 10:00 p.m. and certainly no later than 11:00 p.m. for anyone to act on it or for the murderers to receive Manson's alleged instructions.

‘Booking’ refers to the process of entering the suspects name, the offense for which he is being held and the time of arrival at the station into the police log (originally a physical ‘book’). The suspect is then fingerprinted and photographed, told the reason for the arrest and then is allowed to make a phone call or two. Unless you are released on your own recognizance or quickly make bail you also get a fresh change of clothes and a bed for the evening. The process can take from one to three hours depending on how busy the police are that night.

To the right are mug shots of  Sandra Good and Mary Brunner (thanks to I don't know if this shot of Good is from the Sears Caper and it's not much help anyway.

[Aside: notice Sandra Good is curiously wearing glasses, something allegedly forbidden by Manson’s
absolute control and domination over The Family. Now that's odd.]

Brunner’s mug shot is a different story. This is clearly from the Sears Caper. See the date there in the lower left corner "8-8-69". There is some other information there and here is what it tells us:

Brunner was charged with violating PC (California Penal Code section) 459 (burglary) and PC 470 (forgery). Burglary? Actually, entering a commercial establishment with the intent to commit theft or any felony is burglary.

"Will TT for court app."- who knows what that means. 'Transport' for court appearance? Telephone for a court appointed attorney? Who knows. 

Brunner arrived at the LAPD West Valley Station in San Fernando ["LAPD San Fern."] at 10:21 p.m. and she was booked into Sybil Brand Institute for Women ["SBI"] at 1:50 a.m.

If Brunner didn’t arrive at the West Valley Station until 10:21 p.m. on August 8, 1969 she would not have completed the booking process (and thus be available for her monitored phone calls) until after 11:21 p.m. (assuming it took an hour) and that’s too late.

There was no jail facility at West Valley, which is why Brunner (and Good) were transferred to Sybil Brand. 

If the form is correct they couldn’t make the call in time. Now, some may argue ‘but maybe Good was booked first’. The time indicated on that form is not the time they were technically ‘booked’ or finished being booked or when they started the process. It is the time they arrived at the police station and they would have arrived together.

Did Brunner or Good Make the Call? 

There are really only two people who know whether they made a phone call to Spahn Ranch at about 10:00 p.m. on August 8, 1969: Mary Brunner and Sandra Good.

Sandra Good denies she made the call. Not only does she deny it, the available evidence suggests she couldn’t and in my opinion wouldn't have made such a call.

George Stimson. E-mail. February 22, 2018 (Thank you, George and Sandy)

That leaves Mary Brunner. Brunner, to the best of my knowledge has never directly answered the
West Hills Hunt Club 1958.
L-R: Robert Kronkright, Mrs. Lloyd Hanna
question. There are, however, two statements, one by Brunner, that may shed some light on what actually happened.

Brunner's statement.

MR. STOVITZ: Did eh - anybody come up to see you in jail after you were arrest on August the 8th?
MS. BRUNNER: Yah, Lynn Fromme.
MR. STOVITZ: Lynn Fromme. Did they tell you that they were trying to get money from Melba Cronkite to get you out of jail?
MS. BRUNNER: Yah, I called Melba and asked for money to get me out of jail.
MR. STOVITZ: Was that the same day you were arrested?
MR. STOVITZ: It was the day after?
MS. BRUNNER: It was some day when I was in court when I had access to a phone.
MR. STOVITZ: Did she say anything about Charlie had already asked for money and she told him, "no."
MS. BRUNNER: Oh, I remember it was the day that - not the day but when they got - when they pulled that GTA bust up at the ranch.
MR. STOVITZ: August 16th.
MS. BRUNNER: Okay, well, then and then what day was that?
MR. STOVITZ: August 16th.
MS. BRUNNER: Was that a Saturday?
MR. STOVITZ: I think it was a Friday. I think Friday.
MS. BRUNNER: Well anyway I saw the girls in the jail in the lock up there but they didn't lock up and then the next time we went to court after that, Monday or Tuesday after that and I didn't know what happened to them, you know - and all that and then I called Melba that day and asked if she (unintelligible) and bail me out. But Charlie was still in jail and she said she'd do it if she could and then later - eh I (unintelligible) she told me that Charlie said that he'd take care of it.

And then there is this from Stephanie Schram.

DEPUTY PALMER: How about Dennis Wilson?
STEPHANIE SCHRAM: Yeah, I, yeah. Not well, he probably wouldn't, you know. We were over there a couple of times.
DEPUTY GLEASON: Was Dennis ever up at the desert?
DEPUTY GLEASON: Just at the Spahn Ranch?
STEPHANIE SCHRAM: I never even saw him there but I was only there for awhile. He'd probably been there before though.
DEPUTY GLEASON: Did you ever go to Dennis' house? Who else was at Dennis' house?
STEPHANIE SCHRAM: Just me and Charlie went there.
DEPUTY GLEASON: Do you recall when that was?
STEPHANIE SCHRAM: Um, yeah, I think I could put it together. It was about a week after those two girls got picked up because he wanted some money to get them out of jail.
DEPUTY GLEASON: If was just before the raid then?
DEPUTY GLEASON: Just before the Spahn Ranch raid?
STEPHANIE SCHRAM: No just after, I think, because I was staying at the ranch not down in the canyon.
DEPUTY GLEASON: Did Charlie think that Dennis would give him money?
STEPHANIE SCHRAM: Well, I guess he did a record a long time ago and he wanted to see if there were any royalties left on it or something; but he no, he didn't give him any.
DEPUTY GLEASON: But Dennis was home though?

Statement of MARY BRUNNER April 6, 1970 and statement of Stephanie Schram, December 4, 1969.

Thanks to

Brunner mentions calling Melba Kronkright for bail money, not the people at Spahn, after being in court on some undisclosed date. She also mentions Fromme coming to visit her, which at least suggests that by the time of that visit the people at Spahn knew where she was. But it is difficult to tell from this small amount of information which came first: the phone call to Kronkright or the visit from Fromme because Brunner contradicts Stovitz' understanding of the events while at the same time saying 'Yah' in response to his statement.

As I read Brunner's statement it sounds to me like Brunner did not know how much her bail was going to be until she appeared in court court that day (which is not unusual, judges set bail). Otherwise, why didn't she call Kronkright directly and earlier. Of course, if I am interpreting this correctly that means Brunner did not know the bail amount on the night of August 8th and could not communicate the $600 figure to Spahn.

But why Brunner didn't call Kronkright earlier may also be revealed in the same passage from her interview: "It was some day when I was in court when I had access to a phone."

As I read her response it seems that Brunner did not have access to a phone until this later date.

Sybil Brand Institute for Women
Then there is Stephanie Schram. She states that Manson went to Dennis Wilson's home about a week after "those two girls got picked up" to get money to bail them out of jail. Deputy Gleason narrows the timeframe to just after the Spahn Raid. One has to ask why Manson would be seeking bail money from Wilson if part of the murder plan was to raise $600? We know, of course they didn't collect $600 those two nights so it could be argued because the plan was unsuccessful and Manson was looking for some other source. That is possible but why engage in the mayhem of those two nights before exhausting other avenues. Avenues that were then followed: Kronkright and Wilson. 

Both Schram and Brunner relate the effort to raise bail to events around the Spahn Raid and Brunner seems to be suggesting the first time she could communicate her predicament to the Family was when she saw them in jail after the raid. That also seems to be when Manson actively went after bail money. And to me that seems to imply no one knew where Brunner was or how much the bail was until they ran into each other (Family and Brunner) in jail.

Brunner: "Well anyway I saw the girls in the jail in the lock up there but they didn't lock up and then the next time we went to court after that, Monday or Tuesday after that and I didn't know what happened to them, you know - and all that and then I called Melba that day and asked if she (unintelligible) and bail me out. But Charlie was still in jail and she said she'd do it if she could and then later - eh I (unintelligible) she told me that Charlie said that he'd take care of it."

Schram: "No [going to Wilson's after bail money was] just after [the Spahn raid], I think, because I was staying at the ranch not down in the canyon.

In both instances (the Brunner call to Kronkright and the Wilson visit) the timeframe is after the murders and after the Spahn Ranch raid. It strikes me as odd that this would be a fall back plan. Instead it seems to have been the plan all along.
From the Spahn Raid Police Report

We also know, however, that either Schram's timeframe (after the Spahn Raid) or her recollection (the
two girls in jail) is not accurate. Sandra Good was picked up in that raid so she was clearly out of jail by August 16th. That may explain precisely what happened. Good may have been released on her own recognizance when the pair appeared in court on August 12th. Remember, they had little evidence against Good. She didn't use the stolen card. Her return to Spahn before the raid could have provided the information regarding Brunner's whereabouts and the need for bail. That too would have happened after the murders. 

[Aside: there is something else that is interesting about Brunner's short exchange with Stovitz. The official narrative claims, on August 12, 1969 Kasabian, not Fromme, attempted unsuccessfully to see Brunner and Good in jail. Here is what Bugliosi says about that.

“Early the next morning (August 12) Manson sought her out. She was to put on a “straight” dress, then take a message to Mary Brunner and Sandra Good at Sybil Brand, as well as Bobby Beausoleil at the County Jail. The message: “Say nothing; everything’s all right.” After borrowing a car from Dave Hannum, a new ranch hand at Spahn, Linda went to Sybil Brand, but learned that Brunner and Good were in court; at the County Jail her identification was rejected and she wasn’t allowed to see Beausoleil. When she returned to the ranch and told Manson she had been unsuccessful, he told her to try again the next day.

Ranch hand David Hannum said he had begun work at Spahn on August 12, and that Linda had borrowed his car that same day, as well as the next. And a check of the jail records verified that Brunner and Good had been in court on August 12.”

(Bugliosi, Vincent. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (25th Anniversary Edition) (p. 332 and 334). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.)

Is Bugliosi referring to the same court appearance as Brunner or a different court appearance? I don't know but if it is the same one there is something wrong with the story offered by Kasabian.

If Brunner was in court on the 12th (likely for her arraignment) it was Fromme, not Kasabian, who went to visit Brunner and Fromme was successful. Now, it could be that the Fromme visit was sometime after the 12th.]

I don’t believe a call was ever made by Mary Brunner or Sandra Good to Spahn Ranch on the night of August 8th shortly after 10:00 p.m. Memories fade over time but the logistics of the call just don’t seem to line up and the person identified as making the call says she didn’t make the call.

The idea of murdering five (or seven) people for $600 seems ridiculous given the less violent efforts made after the murders. I have to agree with Bugliosi on this one:

“As an alternative motive, Aaron suggested that maybe Manson was trying to get enough money to bail out Mary Brunner, the mother of his child, who had been arrested on the afternoon of August 8 for using a stolen credit card. Again I played the Devil’s advocate. Seven murders, five one night, two the next; 169 separate stab wounds; words written in the victims’ own blood; a knife stuck in the throat of one victim, a fork in his stomach, the word WAR carved on his stomach—all this to raise $625 bail?”

Bugliosi, Vincent. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (25th Anniversary Edition) (p. 268). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

Pax Vobiscum