Monday, April 22, 2019

Debra Tate radio interview 3-14-2019

Tate's actual interview begins at around 3:30

Monday, April 15, 2019

Raw Footage of the President Ford Assassination Attempt

Here's another raw footage video from KCRA TV in Sacramento, this one is much longer than the previous video.  It, too, is a hodgepodge of clips but over all it is quite interesting.  There is a portion where President Ford gives a speech and commentary after that is terribly dry but once you get past that it's all Red and Blue.

There is footage where Lynette is interviewed in the Sacramento jail.  She is behind thick glass and speaking with two reporters at once with a phone receiver held up to each ear.  If you've wondered where this rather cartoonish still picture came from, now you know.

There is a bit of discussion about The Book Of The Dead with footage scanning portions of it.  There is an unfinished embroidered vest that was taken into evidence as well as other various items.

The landlord of Lynette and Sandy's P St. apartment is interviewed.  And there are interviews about Harold Boro, the man who owned the gun that Lynette used in the attempt.


Monday, April 8, 2019

Raw Footage of Manson

This is some raw footage from television station KCRA out of Sacramento.  It's a bit of a hodgepodge with audio in some of the clips and no audio in other spots.  It's not at all chronological and there is even a clip of Squeaky after she was arrested for her assassination attempt on President Ford along with a clip of Sandy and Susan Murphy exiting a police van at the time they were picked up for questioning in Sacramento.

Most of the clips do relate to Manson though.  There is some footage taken after one of Manson's parole hearings and the video ends with a short interview of Manson while in his jail cell on death row at San Quentin.

One of the most interesting parts to me was in the beginning where the yard at the Tate home was filmed.  I don't think I have ever seen film footage, just stills.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Happening Stuff

There is nothing earth shattering going on in Mansonland, just a couple of things that might be of interest.

Cielodrive has posted the transcript of Bobby Beausoliel's January 3, 2019 parole hearing.  I have not had the time to read much more than the first quarter of it, though I did see in a Google alert that Bobby talks about having a prison sanctioned meeting with Charlie while both were in San Quentin.

Bobby's lawyer made a complaint about a petition that Debra Tate organized through saying it was "rife with factual errors."  The petition was apparently signed by numerous people because it was said to be 700-800 pages.  Bobby's lawyer also questioned why Debra was allowed at the hearing and was allowed to speak.


In a couple of weeks Dianne Lake with be speaking and doing a book signing at the American Investigative Society of Cold Cases 2019 Cold Case Conference.  The conference will take place in Albany NY April 15th & 16th.

I saw a schedule in a Twitter post telling that Diane will speak at 4:15 pm on the 15th.  The conference is pretty pricey for non-members and I'm not sure if there is a price for going just one day.  If you happen to live or be in the area that weekend it might be worth it to drop in and try to negotiate a price.



I found this photo, one I had never seen, online a week or so ago.  Initially I was skeptical about the date of the photo because Spahn Ranch burned down in September 1970.  But, I was told that the corral survived the fire and the horses who were initially moved were brought back.

Rocky in this picture is Hugh Todd who was arrested at Barker Ranch with Steve Grogan.  Hugh's mom lived at The Fountain of the World.  I do not know who Pat is.  The horses are beautiful!

Thursday, March 28, 2019


by TV News Desk Mar. 27, 2019

REELZ today announced the new original two-hour documentary "Charles Manson: The Funeral" premieres on Saturday, April 13, 2019 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT. "Charles Manson: The Funeral"* goes inside THE JOURNEY of Charles Manson's grandson Jason Freeman who fought to control the notorious cult leader's body and funeral. What unfolds confounds Freeman as he wrestles with the duty of caring for a deceased relative who also happens to be one of the world's most vile criminals.

"This documentary shows the unusual real story confronting Jason Freeman who struggles to comprehend his role in a situation that involves family, infamy and the inevitable event of death," said Rob Swartz, SVP of REELZ Development and Production. "Freeman's story will no DOUBT leave viewers asking themselves what they would do if faced with similar circumstances."

Years before Charles Manson became the cult leader in California he was married to a woman in Ohio and had a son named Charles Manson Jr. who would later father Freeman. Since Freeman's mother and father were never married Freeman kept his mother's maiden name though the specter of the Manson name still loomed large throughout his life. When Freeman was only 16 years old his father committed suicide leaving him with complex emotions about his lineage and eventually increasing his CURIOSITY about his infamous grandfather and what it all means for his own young family.

"We wanted to explore the incredibly complicated choices in Jason Freeman's story," said Buddy Day, director of 'Charles Manson: The Funeral'. "What goes through your mind when this evil person who hardly anyone wants to be associated with is your grandpa and now you have his body? Do you ignore it? Embrace it? At the end of the day Manson was still a family member and despite the menacing Manson cloud Freeman grew up with he still feels his grandpa deserved a proper burial."

"Charles Manson: The Funeral" follows Freeman as he comes to terms with a legacy haunted by his grandfather's heinous deeds and the weight of the Manson name. The documentary goes inside the funeral with the first-ever footage of the service and cremation and shows viewers what happens when Freeman crosses paths with Manson supporters who want to say goodbye and add their own disturbing touch to his memory. In an effort to try and comprehend who his grandfather was Freeman meets with Dianne Lake, former member of the Manson Family, who gives him insight into what life was really like at Manson's Spahn Ranch. Throughout it all is Freeman's wife who finds herself thrust into the spotlight once her husband attracts media attention in his bid to claim Manson's body.

Sharing her first hand story is Freeman's mother Shawn Moreland who discusses her efforts to shield a young Freeman from Manson's evil only to see him come face to face with the grim obligation of burying the cult leader. Additional interviews include attorney Dale Kiken who helped Freeman secure Manson's body, pastor Mark Pitcher at Porterville's Church of Nazarene who performed Manson's funeral service and Manson supporters who attend the funeral John Michael "J.J." Jones, Craig "Gray Wolf" Hammond and Billy Gram.

Viewers will also hear from Stephen Kay, former prosecutor of Manson Family members, Caitlin Rother, co-author of "Hunting Charles Manson" and reporters who have covered Manson throughout the years including Emmy Award(R) winning investigative reporter Mike Deeson, Sarasota Herald-Tribune reporter Chris Anderson and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman. "Charles Manson: The Funeral" is produced by MY Entertainment with executive producers Michael Yudin and Joe Townley.


Monday, March 25, 2019

Cast Photos and Teaser Trailer for New Film

Thanks, AstroCreep!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Movie: Charlie Says

Opening in theaters May 10 and VOD May 17

Charlie Says is a 2018 drama film directed by Mary Harron and starring Matt Smith as infamous killer Charles Manson.

It had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 2, 2018. It is scheduled to be released on May 10, 2019, by IFC Films.

Thanks to Amy for the tip...

Monday, March 11, 2019

A Prison Psychologist on Charlie Manson

By James Dowding

It began like this: a correction officer brought him into my 4x6 office on the cell block.  His feet were in shackles, but his hands were free.  The officer asked me if I wanted his hands shackled, and I said no, knowing that he had no history of violence while in the institution.  The correctional officer left, closing the door behind him.  I sat at my desk.  I made a simple greeting, suggesting he sit, but he didn't comply or say anything.

Charlie shuffled over to a small bookcase.  He ran his finger along the books, touched knick-knacks on the shelf, and looked at paintings on the wall.  Slowly turning towards me (he offered no initial eye contact), he placed his hands squarely on my desk, leaning forward, his face in close proximity to my face.  Then with direct eye contact, he said slowly with emphasis, "I don't see any pictures of your children here."

Looking him squarely in the eye, I said, "Shut the **** up and sit down."  Smiling slightly, his demeanor abruptly lightened, he sat.  Unfortunately, I do not recall what he said during the remainder of our encounter; however, there was some degree of engagement that had none of the threat suggested in his initial presentation.  His ploy had failed, and he knew it.

I met Charles Manson in 1982, while working in my first post-doctoral experience as a forensic psychologist at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.  This is the place where the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sends felons who are mentally ill and need a high level of care.  Charlie was deemed one of those felons, spending his first ten years of his incarceration in solitary confinement at San Quentin.  He had recently been relocated to Vacaville, which was something of an experiment to get him out of solitary confinement.  The goal was to get him on the "mainline," where he could mingle with the general population, those who were not so severely disturbed that they needed 24-7 lockdown and close surveillance.  As a postscript, the experiment never worked very well because there was always someone in the prison looking to make a name for himself by "lighting him up" - a reference to a hobby shop incident where someone threw lighter fluid on Charlie! 

Every year, according to the law, Charlie would go before the parole board.  Before each meeting with the board, his psychiatric file had to be updated.  That year, the psychiatrist who had previously handled Charlie's update asked me to do the interview and write-up.  She admitted she had been "undone" by some of her previous encounters with him and did not wish to see him again.  As a new postgrad and newest member of the team, I took it as a compliment and said, "absolutely," curiosity driving my eagerness.  I getting into a bit of trouble and into an argument with a haughty consulting psychiatrist from San Francisco who insisted Charlie was schizophrenic, which, and history bears me out here, he was not.  Not to say he wasn't severely disturbed, but more from a sociopathic and narcissistic angle than a truly thought-disordered human being in the schizophrenic spectrum.

During my interview with Charlie, I tried to take a social and developmental history.  For example, I inquired, "Tell me what you recall from some of the foster homes you were in as a child."  In response to my questions, Charlie used poetic language filled with metaphors and similes.  I remember him saying, "I am what you made me" - a line he had used on other occasions with other interviewers.  In fact, much of what he had to say had a certain dramatic tone and intent.  At times, his lines seemed a bit rehearsed and prepared, a soliloquy of sorts that was running commentary on how the world had abused and mistreated him.  Some might call it paranoia, if not for the realness of the abuse that actually did occur in his young childhood and adolescence (this has been documented). 

I ended up seeing him maybe a half-dozen times, not getting very far with any specific facts associated with his history, motivation, or crimes.  He guarded and protected himself well through his theatric meanderings.  I could always tell if he didn't like the way the inquiry was going, because he would make some veiled or more pronnounced threat that essentially ended the discussion.  For example, at one point he said, "You know, I still have friends on the outside."  I think on this occasion, I simply glared back at him without a response and moved the topic to another area.

Because I had a lot of time as a professional in this type of environment, I too to reading the voluminous records on Charlie.  As I recall, the pile of papers was at least six-feet tall, including everything from court transcripts to social histories taken years in the past.  For what it's worth, in my professional opinion, he never did "wield the knife," but, essentially, derived satisfaction from guiding and coercing others to fulfill his murderous impulses.

Prior to working for the California Department of Corrections, I had worked for the State of Illinois at a hospital for women, many of whom had killed one or more of their children. For a period of four years, I had dwelled on what I call the "dark side," working with individuals who had committed heinous crimes.  Meeting Charlie was the culminating event that told me I couldn't do this any more.  I needed to find a job working with a healthier population.  With tongue-in-cheek, I'm fond of telling people that Charlie gave me career counseling, and I acted upon it.

Original Article

There is one sentence in Dowding's article that I believe is the closest we will ever come to knowing the motive for the murders that took place in the summer of 1969.

  For what it's worth, in my professional opinion, he never did "wield the knife," but, essentially, derived satisfaction from guiding and coercing others to fulfill his murderous impulses.

As the Col would say, "Discuss."

Here is a copy of a typical yearly review done by the prison for each prisoner, though it was written up at a later date than when this psychologist did his yearly reviews.  The information on the report is the same information notated each year.

Monday, March 4, 2019

DId PJ Tate suspect Blowback?

 "Blowback is a term originating from within the American Intelligence community, denoting the unintended consequences, unwanted side-effects, or suffered repercussions of a covert operation that fall back on those responsible for the aforementioned operations. To the civilians suffering the blowback of covert operations, the effect typically manifests itself as "random" acts of political violence without a discernible, direct cause... "

LtCol Paul James Tate, Sharon's father, was stationed at Ft. Baker, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco at the time of the murders.  His military specialty was counter-intelligence  So was he working on behalf of the US effort in Vietnam?  But if so, shouldn't he have been stationed a little bit closer to the scene of the action?  Or if he was  working on behalf of US Operations for NATO, shouldn't he have been stationed in Europe?  What was going on in San Francisco that was of such importance to the US Army?

Well of course the Bay Area was still the capital of the Counterculture at that time, two years after the Summer of Love kicked it into high gear amongst the youth all across the country.  And it is known that the US Army was lending it's intel officers to an all-out effort to fight that social movement.

 Watergate by Fred Emery c.1994
"...the Johnson Administration.... had initiated a program of infiltrating protest groups with U.S. Army intelligence agents."

 Jane Fonda, Heroine For Our Time by Thomas Kiernan, c.1982  pg197
The FBI*, the CIA*, the Army Counterintelligence Corps and other agencies had been turned into a massive combined political police force that infiltrated, spied on and sometimes actually engineered the activities of the "subversives who sought to undermine the American way."
*[Referring to the FBI's "Cointelpro" operations and the CIA's "Operation Chaos."]

Their primary tactic was to place informants and 'agents provacateurs' within the anti-war movement and other radical groups of the time.  The undercovers would try to get people involved in these groups to commit crimes, which would then cause them to lose public support. It also enabled the police to go in and crack heads, putting the radicals out of action.  Or they would try to raise tensions between different groups or within one group, to get the activists to expend their energy by fighting each other, instead of fighting The Man.  They even went so far as to target Rock 'n Rollers, merely for being symbols of the movement.

Was PJ Tate involved in this effort?  You have to consider the possibility. Patti Tate has stated that the family would move around every three years as they followed PJ from duty station to duty station.  If so,  PJ would have been in San Francisco during the Summer of Love, at the beginning.  Of course the Bay Area from '67 onwards was a 'target-rich' environment, in terms of counter-cultural elements.   These included the Black Panther Party, the United Prisoner's Union, the Students for a Democratic Society, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the Diggers, the Merry Pranksters, the Black Muslims, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Church of Satan, and the Process Church of the Final Judgement, among others.

In previous threads I have explored the idea that covert forces--in local, state, and federal law enforcement--were working to manipulate and maneuver the Family into committing the murders, resulting in the demonization of hippies and the counterculture generally.

                                The Hippies  --  Menace to society!

After Charlie was named as a suspect, did Col. Tate remember the Manson name from the files in his office?  Did he hear rumors from his colleagues that Manson was a product of this hidden war against the hippies?  Certainly PJ had a lot of connections and friends from other Federal agencies:

Restless Souls by Alisa Statman and Brie Tate c.2012

Patti: "Earlier that morning he'd (PJ) gone to Holy Cross with five of his friends from the FBI to set up a protection perimeter for our arrival. Along with providing protection, their other purpose was to look for suspects."

PJ to Helder: "...I'm confident that my network of connections can accomplish in one day what will take your men a week."

PJ: " I turned off the television. There were three other men in the family room, all friends from the US Department of Defense, all skilled investigators. After the murders, Guy was the first to offer his assistance. As an FBI agent, he'd spent twenty of his forty-nine years traveling the globe... "

Why did PJ have all these friends from the FBI?  Because he was working with them.  And that work had little to do with Vietnam.

Some people even give PJ credit for breaking the case:

Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones by Quincy Jones, c.2001
"....No one knew who did it until Sharon Tate's father, who was in military intelligence, led investigators to a guy named Charles Manson who had dispatched his followers to the Cielo Drive house with orders to "kill the pigs on the hill." "

But if PJ had some bigger role in solving the murders than has been acknowledged, could this be because PJ was just more diligent in his own investigation, or was it that he had inside information on the Mansonoids?

According to PJ, he may have discovered the Manson/Spahn Ranch link on his own, even before the detectives:

Restless Souls by Alisa Statman and Brie Tate c.2012  pg94
PJ surveils Cielo Dr. late at night (Sept./Oct?). Notices two choppers drive up to Cielo and the bikers try to jump the gate before guard dogs chase them off. PJ follows them in his car--they end up at... Spahn Ranch!

I think it's interesting that PJ allegedly went undercover as a hippie in the weeks and months after the crime as part of his own effort to find the killers of his daughter.  But few at the time suspected hippies.  They suspected black militants, dopers, doper dealers, the Hollywood crowd, S & M freaks, even Satanists.  Did PJ know something others didn't?

Sharon Tate and the Manson Murders,  by  Greg King,  c. 2000
"...Paul Tate had left his career in military intelligence and devoted himself to a personal search for her killers. He let his army crew cut grow long, grew a beard and submerged himself in the anti-establishment world from which he thought his daughter's killers had come. He had regularly spent long nights wandering through the Haight-Ashbury District and along the Sunset Strip* in Los Angeles in search of clues."

*Two places where Charlie and crew used to hang out at.

Robert Hendrickson:
"I would like to add: It is entirely possible that the Manson Family was infiltrated by the F.B.I.
AND that Helter Skelter was influenced by same. ..  It might also explain WHY Col Tate's hands were TIED."



Monday, February 25, 2019

TLB Trial Courtroom Sketches at LoC

Growing up in the 60's & 70's and always having been drawn to the macabre, I saw coverage of many many murder trials on the nightly news. This was long before CNN spawned the 24-hour news cycle that we have today. Back in my childhood through early adulthood, cameras were not allowed in courtrooms. According to
Electronic media coverage of criminal proceedings in federal courts has been expressly prohibited under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53 since the criminal rules were adopted in 1946. Rule 53 states: "[e]xcept as otherwise provided by a statute or these rules, the court must not permit the taking of photographs in the courtroom during judicial proceedings or the broadcasting of judicial proceedings from the courtroom." 
In 1972 the Judicial Conference of the United States adopted a prohibition against "broadcasting, televising, recording, or taking photographs in the courtroom and areas immediately adjacent thereto." The prohibition, which was contained in the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, applied to criminal and civil cases.
Instead, what we saw on the nightly news was the work of talented artists hired by both newspapers and broadcast outlets to capture the personal dynamics of legal trials, which for many decades were off-limits to photographers and television cameras. The artwork brought the theater of the courtroom to life, capturing gestures, appearances and relationships in a way that humanized the defendants and plaintiffs, lawyers, judges and witnesses.

This all began to change in October 1988 when Chief Justice Rehnquist appointed the Ad Hoc Committee on Cameras in the Courtroom, which ultimately led to the presence of courtroom cameras. To this day, the question of cameras in the courtroom are up to the discretion of the presiding judge, which is why we still occasionally see the work of these sketch artists on news broadcasts.

The Tate-Labianca trial was brought to the public under the old system. The only glimpses of the defendants were of them being let to and from the courtroom.

The Library of Congress website contains some of the sketches made during the trial. Here they are with links provided:

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Manson Family on Film and Television’ (2018)

Original review in Diabolique Magazine.

Closing in on nearly fifty years after the event, the dark enigma of Charles Manson (1934 – 2017) and the horror that was the Tate-LaBianca murders continue to fascinate and haunt us in a way that very few crimes before or since have. Over the nights of August the 8th and 9th, 1969, Manson managed to reach out and terrify the world by sending a selection of his acid-fuelled young (and mostly female) followers on a murderous rampage through Los Angeles, a spree that would ultimately leave seven people dead, including a pregnant Sharon Tate, the 26-year-old actress wife of film director Roman Polanski (who may very well have ended up among the victims, had he not been over in the UK at the time). Of course, the combined death toll attributed to Manson and his Family was much higher than seven, and included musician Gary Hinman, lawyer Ronald Hughes, Spahn Movie Ranch hand and Hollywood stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea, and possibly many others.

I have long held a strange fascination with the Manson case, as I also have with the November 22nd, 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, two crimes which bookended the decade of the pop-sixties, a contradictory one played up as a time of ‘peace and love’, yet seeing record increases in racial violence, psychopathy and random acts of senseless killing. Not to mention a pointless war in South East Asia that was being played out nightly on television sets across American living rooms. The Tate-LaBianca killings, along with the stabbing murder of black concertgoer Meredith Hunter by the Hells Angels at the Altamont rock festival in San Francisco on December 6th, 1969, brought the decade to a screaming halt.

My own first exposure to Manson was, appropriately enough, a cinematic one. I was only five years old at the time the events took place, so while I may have heard his name being mentioned on the news or by older family members, my first conscious introduction to Charles Manson was the screening of the two-part telemovie Helter Skelter (1976/USA), which I first saw at the age of thirteen, probably the perfect age for the film and its story to have maximum impact on my impressionable mind. In the lead-up to the broadcast, I started learning a few things about Manson and the murders, from TV reports and newspaper articles hyping the mini-series, as well as from exaggerated and misinformed schoolyard chatter.

But you didn’t need to exaggerate anything in this case – the crime and the facts surrounding it, not to mention the news footage and images of Manson and his perpetrators, spoke for themselves. So by the time Helter Skelter aired in Australia, I was primed and already terrified out of my wits by the story. After the first part of the telemovie had aired, which was highlighted by a galvanising performance by Steve Railsback as Charles Manson, I slept with the bedroom door opened and the hallway light turned on, for the first time in years. Of course, I couldn’t wait for the second part to air the following night.

Written by Germany-based screenwriter and author Ian Cooper, The Manson Family on Film and Television (McFarland, 2019, 213 pages) is a much-welcome book-length examination of the films, television shows and TV movies which were either based on or inspired/influenced by the Manson killings and the fear and hysteria which they generated. While Helter Skelter may be one of the better and more widely-publicised adaptations of the case (it was based on the famous best-selling book by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry), it was certainly not the first. The sensationalism and cocktail of lurid ingredients which surrounded the Manson murders provided the perfect fodder for exploitation filmmakers. They were quick to capitalise on the tragedy. Existing films were hastily retitled and rushed into cinemas and drive-ins with suitably tasteless advertising campaigns, such as Robert Thom's Angel, Angel, Down We Go (1959), which reappeared post-Manson as Cult of the Damned, while cameras started rolling on new films while the newspaper ink was still wet.

Two of the earliest cinematic exploitations of the Manson killings were Frank Howard's The Other Side of Madness (1971) and The Manson Massacre (1971). The former is an interesting and effectively surreal, almost arty black & white gem that utilizes some of Charlie's original music and was partially filmed at the infamous Spahn Ranch, the old western movie location which the Manson Family used as a hideout and sanctuary. The Other Side of Madness was later re-released as The Helter Skelter Murders which is the title it remains best known under. Little is known about Kentucky Jones, the mysterious name credited as director on The Manson Massacre (aka The Cult), a film which was presumed lost for many years until a German-dubbed print was discovered in the early 2000s.

Cooper puts forth the belief that Kentucky Jones was a pseudonym for the notorious sexploitation filmmaker Roberta Findlay, though other rumours have invariably suggested the film was directed by Lee Frost, veteran Albert Zugsmith and even members of the Manson Family itself (the later highly unlikely but makes for a good urban myth). The Manson Massacre is a quintessential piece of early-70s' scuzz, dripping with sleaze and jam-packed with topless hippie chicks and psychedelia-drenched violence.

The film takes great liberties with the facts behind the case, but does contain an interesting structure, with frequent black & white flashbacks filling us in on the background of Manson's girls, along with their first meeting with the Messiah (one of the girls falls for Charlie when he helps her steal a vibrator which her horrified father refuses to buy for her!). Other flashbacks depict Manson sleeping with his mother (played by the buxotic Russ Meyer gal Uschi Digart) and being gang raped in the showers by a group of fellow inmates during his subsequent prison sentence.

The author has an interesting take on some of the films that are discussed in The Manson Family on Film and Television, such as Tobe Hooper's seminal masterwork The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), which Cooper asserts is like a reverse Manson, in which the young band of hippies are the ones who are terrorized and slaughtered at the hands of a demented (and literal) family of killers who are shunned and separated from society. Another example is Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1978), in which the Colonel Kurtz character (played by Marlon Brando) is cast as the Manson figure, a dropout from his own military society who has lost his mind and is lording over his  "family" of natives and army deserters deep in the jungles of Vietnam.

Cooper also includes some of the many documentaries and true crime TV shows and interviews that have been devoted to Manson over the years. The highlight of which would still have to be the devastating and Oscar-nominated Manson (1973), along with many of the low-budget horror flicks that gave off a clear Manson vibe like David Durston's incredibly sleazy I Drink Your Blood (1970), the Robert Quarry vampire vehicle The Deathmaster (1972), and Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes (1977).

It's also great to see Cooper touch on Jeff Lieberman's classic psychedelic psycho-shocker Blue Sunshine (1977), which centres on a group of young adults who, as experimental counter-culture college students a decade earlier, took a batch of bad acid which is now catching-up with them, causing them to lose their hair and descend into murderous psychosis.

The theme of crazed killers on a bum trip, along with the visual of bald young women with craziness in their eyes, certainly brings forth some Manson-esque connotations. When I interviewed writer/director Lieberman about it a couple of years ago, he told me that he had no thought of Manson during the film's conception and production. Still, it's a perfect example of how Manson managed to permeate the subconscious, if not in the filmmaker then in the viewer.

Episodic television shows, which featured Manson-esque characters and situations, are not ignored in Cooper's book, either. Along with the recent David Duchovny-led series Aquarius (2015 – 2016), Cooper covers classic TV shows which riffed on Manson, like "A Coven of Killers," a 1975 episode of the American cop series S.W.A.T., which guest-starred Sal Mineo as the cult-like leader of a group of alienated youths out to exact revenge against the people who put him behind bars. Tragically, Mineo himself was viciously murdered not long after this episode aired, stabbed to death by a drifter named Lionel Ray Williams. One notable admission from the book, and one of my own favourite Manson-inspired TV episodes, is "Bloodbath" from the second (1976) season of Starsky & Hutch. Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser, who also directed), is kidnapped by the crazed followers of a cult leader named Simon Marcus, who blame Starsky for his imprisonment on a string of murder charges.

The Manson vibe of Simon Marcus, played by the memorably-named Aesop Aquarian, is clearly apparent not just in the influence which he wields over his young followers, but in his physical appearance, which includes long hair, a beard, and an upside-down cross engraved on his forehead (in place of Charlie's notorious swastika). With Quentin Tarantino's upcoming Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) set to recapture the Manson hysteria and bring it back to our screens in time for the 50th anniversary of the events, it seems as if the public fascination with all things Helter Skelter is not about to dissipate anytime soon, making Ian Cooper's book a timely publication. Entertaining, knowledgeably-written and illustrated throughout with many B&W photos, poster art and ad mats, The Manson Family on Film and Television is a book that should appeal to both true crime and cult cinema fans and would look equally at home sitting on the bookshelf of either.

Thanks J-dog!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Tex Watson local Dallas News Story From 1969 Plus Raw Footage

Appreciation once again to Tom H

Monday, February 4, 2019

CHAOS Indeed - New Book Makes Bold ASSertions


Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties

The Col recently was able to lay his hands on an ARC (advanced reading copy) of the above long awaited book (he mentions 20 years at least 100 times, in the part I have at least) by Tom O’Neill.

Before we start I should reference all my interactions with Tom over the last 20 years so I can allow the reader to decide what they will about where I cam coming from.

In 1999 a journalist named Anne Thompson knew I was an expert in all TLB matters and mentioned Tom was doing a piece on Hollywood ties to the murders. She suggested we talk. Back then we were working on our Manson movie that would be destroyed by the financial issues that occurred after 9/11. Tom and I met at my main hang (still today) El Compadre on Sunset for some flaming margaritas. Tom seemed nice and intelligent and reasonable. We shot the shit about TLB.

We shot the shit about TLB several other times after that.

In 2001 while trying to mount our Manson film, a movie I produced, BULLY, premiered at the Egyptian Theatre. I invited Tom as part of my guest list. There was an after party down the street that was thrown by other people, not me. I kept going out to get people in. I didn’t recognize Tom, having met him only once or twice (and being tipsy) , and I do not think he got in. My fault? I suppose so.

As the internet grew and expanded and the TLB research base grew, the legend of the amazing ColScott grew as well. For reasons I never understood, Tom decided one day "out of a clear blue fucking sky" to doxx me to some people. Doxxing someone is shitty. Only shitty people do it. Tom O’Neill, unbeknownst to me, is a shitty person.

Tom and I would IM on occasion. Max Frost liked Tom. But Max Frost likes pretty much everybody. And he had not been doxxed by shitty person Tom O’Neill. When we communicated, he would be supercilious and I would be condescending.

Sometime in about 2009 he went on a TV show about TLB as an expert (literally having published nothing) and supported standard BUG lies, even going so far as to talk about a Karate school that Charlie ran for the Family that had me mocking him forever. Oh yeah and "unsolved murders." FFS

It is around this time that I learned that when trying to interview Col Tate’s widow (one of the 1000 interviews no doubt from below) he persisted after being told to desist and made her feel threatened. Since Col Tate married this woman AFTER Doris died she literally had no TLB connection, but hey, Tom gonna do Tom.

It was around this time that I received an email to the ONLY Official TLB Blog from Nancy Pitman wherein she talked about her interaction with Tom O’Neill- first she mentioned that he was contacting a movie producer named Brad Wyman to harass him about her involvement with his film although she was NOT involved. Then she wrote the following I quote verbatim "To say that Oneill is a "snob" or an "elitist" is rather generous. Oneill began with harassing my family and my elderly 90 year old parents.. I got his email address off one of the many "business cards" he left and asked him what he wanted. Here is a sample of what Tom Oneill sent me when he felt sure I lived in Bend, Oregon & I have cut and pasted directly from his email: "I will stay another day here and hope you change your mind and agree to meet, or at least speak with me over the phone. I think it will ultimately serve both of our best interests. If you choose not to, then I will have to take a different approach and contact your family members -- since they are referred to in these police interviews -- and vet the information with them. And if they won't speak to me, or if they don't have the answers, then I'll have no choice but to attempt to determine who are the people in your life now that you are close to and may have shared this information with, and then ask them." Then he went to the local newspaper in hopes they would pressure me to talk to him. Had I been working in Oregon he would have gone to my employer. I am sure that is the tactics he employed to ruin Steve's livelihood over in California. Can't get what he wants so he ruins someone's life or livelihood & actually manages to make it look (via you guys) like it was Steve's fault

So Tom is a dick, an unprofessional dick who doxxes people and harasses and threatens those who refuse to talk to him. By the way, I recall asking him about these events and his reply was chilling "I did what I had to do to get people to talk to me." So there’s that.

Sometime in 2015 ICM offered me the book to option. I never would have, but I wanted to read it. Tom had mentioned some stupid rooftop James Bond sounding meeting with Terry Melcher and I was looking for a laugh. But they didn’t have it. Tom stopped them anyway when he heard my name. Max Frost tells me Tom was being pressured to return the advance he was given by the publisher. Who knows why the book took 20 years? But I could guess that Tom is not a very good researcher and was trying to back into conclusions he had already come to.

One thing is for sure- his hatred for BUG is off the charts and he would have had a hard time getting any publisher to print this book with Bug alive. The beginning of the book is all BUG threatening his sorry ass.

Also around 2013 Tom O’Neill went mental about some old Tex Watson cassette tapes in which apparently nothing interesting happened. But yes he went mental, convinced there was a conspiracy to deny him a listen. Six years later the tapes are under lock and key and I do not care. Nothing has been done with him despite Tom's diaper rash.

I did notice that in his Medium article Tom considers Orca to be a good friend of his. Printing Bug’s alleged statement that Polanski filmed her sister’s rape may change that. I do hope Little Brown’s lawyers are prepared- Bug is dead, the conversation is not recorded so all you have is Tom O’Neill’s stunning revelation.

ONE WEIRD NOTE before we start our journey boys and girls: the Col likely got his first ARC in 1980 when he reviewed things for the Georgetown Hoya. Safe to say, 39 years later he has probably seen close to 2000 ARCS. HE HAS NEVER SEEN AN ARC that was the first 80 pages of the book only. Never. Since the purpose of an ARC is to gather early publicity what would be the point? They cannot review 1/6th of book can they? Yet this is what was sent out. Is it because the book isn’t finished yet? Or are they scared of reviews like this that point out the sloppiness of this epic? So sloppy that one of the pictures included of Charlie with Dennis Wilson is a fucking fotoshop collage?

Our Journey- Since I cannot review the book that doesn’t exist I have pulled passages that jumped out at me as troublesome and commented after them. I look forward to your insights in the comments.


It was a sunny day in February, 2006 and we were in the kitchen of his Pasadena home.

BUG invites Tom into his lair and shit is gonna get real

Among many other things, I had evidence in Vince’s own handwriting that one of his lead witnesses had lied under oath.

In this 80 page teaser we do not get to see what this evidence is. My current suspicion is that he wrote "Wrangle that bitch Linda to talk about the toilet in Sylmar better". Joking but who could have been forced to testify according to BUG’s whim more than Yana? Hell, he was controlling her on Larry King a few years ago.

I’d interviewed more than a thousand people by then.

Seriously if Tom interviewed MORE than a 1000 people by then I have to conclude that he was interviewing strangers at the Greyhound station who just got off the bus. I would have a very hard time to name 100 people in this case who might have information that matters in this case. And later he’s gonna whine how many people refused to talk to his needy ass.

I’ve never been a Manson apologist. I think he was every bit as evil as the media made him out to be.

Think. He still to this day believes the BUG. Karate Schools baby.

The point, as I saw it, was that an act of perjury called the whole motive for the murders into question.

Fucking BUG lied under oath about the newspaper coming in, you really are shocked he suborned perjury? REALLY?

One of them, Mary Neiswender of the Long Beach Press Telegram and Independant, told me that Vince had threatened her back in the eighties, when she was preparing an expose on him. He knew where her kids went to school, "and it would be very easy to plant narcotics in their lockers". Actually, I didn’t even need other sources-Vince himself had told me mere minutes ago that he had no compunction about hurting people to "exact justice or get revenge"

Snidely Whiplash step right up.

There are at least four versions of what happened that weekend in August, each with its own account of who stabbed whom, with which knives, who said what, who was standing where.

No there really are not.

More than anything, they lived according to the whims of their leader, the thirty-four year-old Charles Milles Manson, who had commanded them to take their trip that night.

Jesus this doesn’t look good. They lived according to Charlie’s WHIMS!

Watson scaled a pole to sever the phone lines to the house. He’d been here the before, and he knew where to find them right away.

Tom wants you to believe that having been to the house once before Tex knew the telephonic and electrical layout by heart. Think about that

At the top of the driveway they found Steven Parent, an eighteen-year-old who’d been visiting the caretaker in the guesthouse to sell him a clock radio.

Tom believes that Steven was selling clock radios to strangers at midnight in Benedict Canyon, rather than getting blow jobs. Tom is wrong.

Frykowski was coming off a ten-day mescaline trip at the time

Tom had a stopwatch and a clock

She peered into a second bedroom, where a man sat on the edge of a bed, talking to a pregnant woman who lay there in just her bra and underwear.

Tom doesn’t like the word panties nor the word blow job

On the bed with him was his ex-girlfriend, Sharon Tate, then twenty-six and eight months pregnant with her first child wearing only lingerie.

He repeats this within the same page- seems obsessed with Sharon’s undies.

Atkins had remained in the house with Tate, who was whimpering sitting on the floor still in only lingerie, and still bound by the neck to the dead body of her former lover Sebring.

Again with the panties hang up, third time in two pages. And if Jay is dead then of course he is former.

"Woman I have no Mercy for you" Atkins responded, locking her arm around Tate’s neck from behind.

I believe the word was "Bitch" and I believe there are multiple versions of who held whom.

With a welter of his followers

I tried three dictionaries and do not believe the word "welter" means what Tom thinks it means.

"He has no plans for release", one report said "as he has nowhere to go "

Tom be accurate – this is what Charlie said as he was leaving Terminal Island it is not from a report.

Melcher had flirted with the idea of recording Manson who had dreams of rock stardom, but he decided against it. Sometime in the spring before the murders, Manson had gone looking for Melcher at the house hoping to change his mind, but a friend of the tenants told him that Melcher didn’t live there. Manson didn’t like the guy’s brusque attitude. Consequently, the house on Cielo Drive came to represent the "establishment" that had rejected him.

There is so much inaccurate with this quote. Suffice to say, Melcher NEVER intended to record Charlie, was just humoring some of his major clients.

For a Family novitiate, the goal was to burn yourself out, to take so much LSD and listen to so much of Charlie’s music that you returned "to a purity and nothingness" resembling a new birth.

This goal was literally never mentioned ever by anyone.

Even my most reliable sources were shaky on the details. As for the unreliable sources, I kept reminding myself that many of them were washed-up Hollywood personalities, often in their dotage.

One thing that resonates throughout the excerpt is Tom’s reliance on "sources." He is like other bad journalists I have met throughout my career- if you speak to him then you are at least credible. If you don’t you have something to hide. He seriously reprints nonsense in this book so far that is mind boggling. But hey they spoke to him on the record!

Were the police aware of Manson’s crimes much earlier than it seemed-had they delayed arresting the family to protect the victims, or Melcher and his circle, from scrutiny?

The problem with any conspiracy is that it is so unlikely that you can get 2 people to agree on anything, much less 20 plus. Look at the Russiagate mess now. Tom is wondering if the police delayed arresting Manson to appease a music producer, Doris Day’s son. The answer, obviously is that Tom has gone deep in the rabbit hole

Almost right away, I felt the kind of cognitive dissonance that followed me through my reporting. I’d meet my sources at a fancy restaurant of their choice-in this case, Le Petit Four, a sunny sidewalk cafe in Beverly Hills-and within minutes, as the conversation turned towards violence the plush setting would feel totally incongruous.

Le Petit Four, which has amazing onion soup, is over a mile outside Beverly Hills. But hey, as above, fuck facts.

In 1999, apparently, that fear was still alive and well, at least among Hollywood’s A-list, many of whom declined to speak to me, even though thirty years had passed. I was rebuffed by the intimates of the Tate Polanski, and Sebring-sometimes with vehemence sometimes with tersely worded emails or phone calls. "No interest.’ "Doesn’t want to be involved". Or just one word: "No". Warren Beatty and Jane Fonda said no. Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper, both reputedly close to Tate and Polanski: no, no. Candice Bergen, Terry Melcher’s girlfriend at the time of the murders, said no, too-as did David Geffen, Mia Farrow, and Anjelica Huston, among others.

"Hi I am a reporter for a puff piece Film magazine and I am getting obsessed with the murder of someone you knew (at least in passing) WHY won’t you talk to me?" I mean what the fuck, the entitlement of this guy.

Plus, by Bugliosi's own account, Manson sent his followers to the Cielo house knowing full well that Melcher did not live there anymore.

Around here Tom starts to get confused. Because either BUG is a dirty rat liar or he isn’t. Either Manson sent everyone. Or he didn’t. Cannot make up his foul mind.

When he’d joined the case, the detectives told him they’d recovered some videotape in the loft at the house on Cielo Drive. The footage, clearly filmed by Polanski, depicted Sharon Tate being forced to have sex with two men. Bugliosi never saw the tape, but he told the detectives, "put it back where you found it. Roman suffered enough. There’s nothing to gain. All it's going to do is hurt her memory and hurt him. They’re both victims"

Tom quotes BUG and starts to attack the victims here. I know Orca reads this and doesn’t like me anymore than I like her but I hope she sends this to Roman. His lawsuit against Vanity Fair was won and this is worse- "New Book Claims Polanski filmed his wife being raped for his own jollies." What has this got to do with motive? Does anyone believe this shit?

That meant that Polanski could walk all over her. One friend who called him "one of the most evil people I ever met," said that he had smashed Sharon’s face into a mirror, and on another occasion forced her to watch a recording of him having sex with another woman. He cheated on her constantly and made sure she knew about it.

And more victim bashing. Polanski cheated and his wife deserved to be stabbed to death then?

"He would throw a brick in the pool and watch my dog dive for it and try to retrieve it . He stood there laughing. The dog wouldn’t give up."

Oh fuck Roman was mean to Joanna Pettet’s dog! That makes him....what exactly?

So what story do you want to tell? The one about this little prick who left his wife alone... with Jay Sebring and Gibby and Voytek, these wankers, these four tragic losers, or do you want to talk about a poor kid, Roman Polanski?"

I met Bill Tennant once. It was an odd experience back in 1988 and I will share the story with anyone in person if asked. But his alleged quote above doesn’t factor into the trauma that haunted Bill his whole life. It is just more blame the victim bullshit.

So, before a crowd of onlookers, they lowered Doyle’s pants, flogged him and anally raped him.

Tom, obsessed with panties, now spends pages tracking down the possible rape of a drug dealer who did NOT kill these people so who care?

In short, he told the LAPD’s Lieutenant Earl Deemer that he didn’t remember being raped, but he couldn’t be sure; it might’ve happened anyway. He recalled going over to see Frykowski at the Cielo house on the night in question, sometime in early July.

If an ass rape happens in the forest and no one remembers it did it even happen?

In another LAPD officer’s account of that interview, Doyle puts it even more frankly; "i was so freaked out on drugs I wouldn’t know if they’d fucked me or not"

He was also so strung out on drugs he doesn’t know if Stoner Van Houten drew Sharpie dicks on his face but it COULD have happened.

He added that Bugliosi was "an asshole" who’d never interviewed him or Billy. "Vincent Bugliosi knows to keep his mouth shut. I’d’ve got him killed. I didn’t tell him that-I didn’t have to".

Quoting elderly gangster drug dealers – must be one of the 1000 plus interviews

Contradicting what he’d told me on the phone, he said that Frykowski had sold MDA, but only to close friends.

Define close, Tom

Doyle believed that Polanski and Frykowski were Polish spies the former subverting American democracy with his decadent film.

Yes, do go on, you keep quoting this shithead lunatic you must have a reason.

"The community has looked at this as a settled thing until you started talking to us"

The community is Springfield and this guy is Grampa and next we buy a monorail!

Then, after the murders, Little Joe got a call from General Charlie Baron, a casino executive and mobster who told him, "Don’t worry, Little Joe, you’re going to be all right." He presumed that the murders had been a drug deal gone wrong, and that Jay and Frykowski had been targeted.

Even those on the Ponderosa had to be reassured.

"Do you think he sold drugs?" I asked , aware that Frykowski had possibly been doing the same.
"It wouldn’t surprise me."

Here we blame Sebring as if he had violent death coming. Hey Tom, it wouldn’t surprise this shithead if Sebring used to finger his own butthole too.

(this sequence is hilarious as Tom gets the above quotes out of a Beverly Hills barber over the course of MONTHS, Joe Torrenuvea. He literally keeps going to get haircuts to ask him question that denigrate Sebring)

Sebring’s problem had multiplied throughout the sixties. He’d clash with other barbers who wanted to unionize. In 1963, a group of his stylists had defected, en masse, to start their own business. At other times he’d had to hire bodyguards because some guys had come into the shop and "roughed up" several employees, Torrenueva said, for reasons that were never shared with him. Sebring carried a gun and "he shot someone once who came to his house and was giving his father a rough time at the door."

You see where we are? Random vague quotes from fucking barbers are not evidence of anything. Yet here we are, spreading shit about a DEAD VICTIM.

Which meant that in addition to drug dealers and Hollywood’s seedier hangers-on, I had to account for the mobsters, ex-military figures, intelligence agents in my reporting. I was already worried about wandering into the weeds-now I risked veering off the map entirely.

That happened 50 pages ago...

TO BE CLEAR- BUG was a liar, philanderer, horrible human being. Bug bashing is cool, we can't have enough of it. But Tom, sloppy facts are throughout this. Manson is not 5'2'. They did not drive a Ford Falcon the nights of the killings. Bug was not 32 during the trial. And that fotoshop is terrible.

You need an editor after 20 years, old man. Send me the book and MAYBE with the help of real researchers on the Blog we can spare your publisher from too many legal actions.

You have my email. Operators are standing by

Saturday, February 2, 2019


Thanks Alec!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Manson in Mexico

Manson in Mexico

Charlie's life has been extensively researched, and we know where he was month-to-month, especially after he became institutionalized.   But there is a big gap in the Manson timeline from January of 1960 until June 1, 1960, when he is arrested on an outstanding warrant in the south Texas town of Laredo where he had just crossed the border from Mexico. Neither Bugliosi nor Sanders mentions this foray to another country, nor that Charlie had been deported from Mexico.

The only source of information for his sojourn there was Charlie himself, and as usual, it's impossible to make any sense of the various versions he gave, or why exactly he got arrested by the Mexican cops.

--Charlie arrested for drug use?
"From memory, the Indians he'd scored off wound up tying him up mid-trip and calling the federales, who dropped him at Laredo once they spotted his warrant."

--A young girl is assaulted and Manson somehow got caught up in it?

Charles Manson Now by Marlin Marynick, pg27of155
"If you're highway patrol and you're molesting people on the way to school, one of the parents is going to get upset when their little girls come back with blood all over their dresses. That's what I learned in Mexico, In Mexico, if you transgress against another man's family and he comes and he takes your life, they don't take him to trial. They give him an apology for the behavior of an asshole that didn't abide by the rules and regulations that he should have abided by. Then if you come up and you won't snitch, the Mexican cops will beat your motherfuckin ass and make you tell. They'll hook you up to electronics and bury you in shit, if necessary."

--Charlie busted for possession of illegal weapons?

Charles Manson Now by Marlin Marynick, pg65of155
"I stole that from Pasadena in the fifties and took it to Mexico and scared everybody to death down there with something they’d never seen before. They seen that .357 Magnum, they thought I was from outer space. Can you imagine that .357 Magnum coming in a field of .45s and .38s."

--Suspect in a multiple murder case?

Charles Manson - 1992 Parole Hearing
INMATE MANSON: I just was released from McNeil Island and I was in Mexico City prison before that and I was in Terminal Island before that.
PRESIDING BOARD COMMISSIONER KOENIG: Now you said you also spent time in Mexico in a prison.
INMATE MANSON: Yes, I was in Mexico for -
INMATE MANSON: In Mexico City, prison, yes. Immigration prison.
INMATE MANSON: I had been accused of killing some French people and a couple dudes in Acapulco.
PRESIDING BOARD COMMISSIONER KOENIG: And how long were you in prison down there?
INMATE MANSON: I was there a couple different times.

Where and when did Charlie cross the border into Mexico? Why did he go there? Was he carrying a US passport, necessary for any further travel into Mexico(as opposed to merely day-tripping in a border town)? Was the US Embassy in Mexico City notified of Charlie's arrest and detention? Why didn't Bugliosi or the investigators express any interest in what Charlie was doing there?   He attempted to trace Charlie's entire criminal history, yet says nothing about Manson's incarceration in Mexico.  Why didn't Bugs contact the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles for some answers?  Or contact the US Embassy in Mexico City?  Or ask the State Department in Washington about what they knew?  This whole trip seems to be another "area of silence" in the Manson file. I doubt we will ever get any resolution.


Yet another version by Charlie, from Manson In His Own Words by Nuel Emmons:

"I headed south and ended up in Mexico City. ... When I first Mexico City, I had some dollars in my pocket so I partied and mingled with the bull fighters. I met a couple of the lesser-known matadors and spent a few days learning to use the cape and sword. Of course the bulls were only half-grown and the sword was never thrust into the animal, but even half-grown, those suckers weight four- to five- hundred pounds and can send a guy flying. After picking my ass up off the ground a few times, I learned how to handle the cape and could stay as close to the bull without getting touched as some of the matadors. "You good, gringo," they told me. "You got all the moves, but you never be matador. You not tall enough."

[This would be like a foreign tourist to the US, using his pidgin English, falling in with NFL football players.  Not impossible, but highly improbable.  And I don't remember Charlie ever boasting to anybody else about his bullfighting skills.]

"When my money started running out, some of the things in the homes I was invited to also started disappearing. No one called the federales, but invitations stopped coming my way. ...a hustler and thief manages to find his own kind wherever he goes, and Mexico City has some areas that would make the events on Miami Vice look like choir practice. I ran into some game, chilly dudes down there. ... I earned some respect from that group of people by being so ignorant I didn't know where to stop. I had stolen a .357 Magnum from one of the haciendas I had visited. ... With some jailhouse Spanish and the kind of hand signals I'd seen the scouts use in the movies, I walked into the Yaqui camp like I belonged there. ... Intending to trade the Magnum for mushrooms, I pulled the gun from my pants, pointing it at the guy who was talking. I said, "This buy mushroom?" ..The gun looked threatening, but that wasn't the way I meant to be, so I handed the gun to the one who said he'd give me some mushrooms.

[Anybody ever hear Charlie talking in Spanish?  I sure haven't.  And it's also kind of strange that Charlie would have even known about psychedelic mushrooms as far back as 1960, much less go out of his way to seek them out.  He doesn't seem to have been a big drug user until he got to San Francisco in 1967.]

"As soon as the gun was in his hands, he pointed it at me and said "You loco, now I kill." He stuck the gun in my stomach... and pulled the trigger. When he snapped that there weren't any shells in it, the four of them started laughing...

[Seems suspiciously close to the circumstances of the Crowe shooting.]

"Even the federales heard about the macho gringo who was friend to the Yaqui. They told me all about it, after they arrested me. "Oh Si, Senor Manson, we hear about you before. The United States say send you back to Texas." Two weeks later I was being booked in the Laredo jail."

[In this version, Charlie is arrested solely on a warrant from the US side.]

Charlie says he was trying to score some psilocybin magic mushrooms, which is weird, as drugs have never been Charlie's main thing.  And the existence of those mushrooms was not widely known in 1960, even though they were the subject of a feature in Life magazine:
In May 1957 Life magazine published an article titled "Seeking the Magic Mushroom", which brought knowledge of the existence of psychoactive mushrooms to a wide audience for the first time. ...  The article sparked immense interest in the Mazatec ritual practice among beatniks and hippies, an interest that proved disastrous for the Mazatec community ....    (ethnomycologist Gordon) Wasson's 1956 expedition(to southern Mexico to get the specimens) was funded by the CIA's MK-Ultra subproject 58, as was revealed by documents obtained by John Marks under the Freedom of Information Act.  The documents state that Wasson was an 'unwitting' participant in the project. ...

So was Charlie an 'unwitting' participant in something similar going on?

May 1957 Life magazine - Product Placement, CIA-style?


"I get high with a little help from my friends."
  --The Beatles



This double murder from Sept 13, 1959 that happened in Mexico City has some interesting similarities to TLB:

Mercedes Cassola, 39, and Ycilio Massine, 23, were found stabbed to death in the bedroom of her house in an affluent neighborhood of the city.   The crime remains unsolved.

Cassola, 39, was an heiress born in Spain and Massine, 23. was born in Mexico of Italian parents

--They were stabbed to death in overkill fashion
   (18 deep stab wounds in Cassola, 47 in Massine)

--The male victim was allegedly castrated. (Some early reports from the Tate scene had Jay Sebring being castrated.)

--Some accounts claim that bloody writing was left on the wall

--The phone line was cut

--The ex-husband of Cassolo was initially a suspect but was cleared as he was in Europe at the time.

--Two different weapons used in the killings, of different sizes.

--No signs of forced entry. Mercedes Cassola didn't appear to have any enemies.

--Two maids sleeping in another part of the house did not hear anything.

--The two dogs in the house did not bark at the intruders.

--Victims were vilified in the press, in the Mexican version of "Live freaky, die freaky." (There were allegations Massine was a male prostitute.)

Could there be a connection to Charlie?  The timeline is off, as Charlie didn't get to Mexico until early 1960.  But that's assuming the timeline is accurate.

Even if Manson had nothing to do with it, the cops there may have looked on Charlie as a suspect, and he may have been peppered with questions about bloody writing on the wall, or cut telephone lines, etc--details which stuck in his memory.


Monday, January 21, 2019


When it comes to parole there is a slight distinction between Bruce Davis, Leslie Van Houten and the “Rest” (Manson, Atkins, Krenwinkel, Watson and Beausoleil). 

Davis was convicted of the murders of Shorty Shea and Gary Hinman as well as conspiracy to commit those murders and conspiracy to commit robbery. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. 

Van Houten was convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the LaBianca murders. In her last trial she was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole and had a minimum eligible parole date (MEPD) of seven years. Inmates who committed life
crimes prior to November 8, 1978 all had an MEPD of seven years. 

The rest were sentenced to death. The death penalty was temporarily abolished in California as being unconstitutional (cruel and unusual punishment) in 1972. At that time Manson, Atkins, Krenwinkel, Watson and Beausoleil all had their sentences commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole. 

Perhaps being a little too legally technical, their sentences were commuted to the available alternative sentence for murder that existed at the time of their original convictions: life in prison with the possibility of parole. In 1977 California added the alternative sentence for murder of life without parole. 

If Manson et al had been convicted under the sentencing laws that have governed California since 1977 their sentences would have likely been commuted to life without parole. It is possible that this fact plays a role in the parole denials that have come down from the Governor, even if the notoriety of the case was not a political factor. Put another way the Governor, in part, may be saying “if this happened today (conviction-death sentence-commuted sentence) they would never get out, so why let them out.”

Regardless, after 1972 all of them were serving the same sentence. 

Parole Suitability

The key to parole suitability is section 2281 of the California Code of Regulations cited as 15CCR section 2281. The general standard for parole suitability is set forth in section 2281(a). 

(a) General. The panel shall first determine whether a prisoner is suitable for release on parole. Regardless of the length of time served, a life prisoner shall be found unsuitable for and denied parole if in the judgment of the panel the prisoner will pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society if released from prison.

The controlling standard is the underlined words also called "current dangerousness". 

Within section 2281 the key regulations for determining current dangerousness are 2281(c) and (d). These set out the factors the panel is to consider for crimes committed before November 1977. 

(c) Circumstances Tending to Show Unsuitability. The following circumstances each tend to indicate unsuitability for release. These circumstances are set forth as general guidelines; the importance attached to any circumstance or combination of circumstances in a particular case is left to the judgment of the panel. Circumstances tending to indicate unsuitability include:

(1) Commitment Offense. The prisoner committed the offense in an especially heinous, atrocious or cruel manner. The factors to be considered include:

(A) Multiple victims were attacked, injured or killed in the same or separate incidents.
(B) The offense was carried out in a dispassionate and calculated manner, such as an execution-style murder.
(C) The victim was abused, defiled or mutilated during or after the offense.
(D) The offense was carried out in a manner which demonstrates an exceptionally callous disregard for human suffering.
(E) The motive for the crime is inexplicable or very trivial in relation to the offense.

(2) Previous Record of Violence. The prisoner on previous occasions inflicted or attempted to inflict serious injury on a victim, particularly if the prisoner demonstrated serious assaultive behavior at an early age.

(3) Unstable Social History. The prisoner has a history of unstable or tumultuous relationships with others.

(4) Sadistic Sexual Offenses. The prisoner has previously sexually assaulted another in a manner calculated to inflict unusual pain or fear upon the victim.

(5) Psychological Factors. The prisoner has a lengthy history of severe mental problems related to the offense.

(6) Institutional Behavior. The prisoner has engaged in serious misconduct in prison or jail.

(d) Circumstances Tending to Show Suitability. The following circumstances each tend to show that the prisoner is suitable for release. The circumstances are set forth as general guidelines; the importance attached to any circumstance or combination of circumstances in a particular case is left to the judgment of the panel. Circumstances tending to indicate suitability include:

(1) No Juvenile Record. The prisoner does not have a record of assaulting others as a juvenile or committing crimes with a potential of personal harm to victims.

(2) Stable Social History. The prisoner has experienced reasonably stable relationships with others.

(3) Signs of Remorse. The prisoner performed acts which tend to indicate the presence of remorse, such as attempting to repair the damage, seeking help for or relieving suffering of the victim, or the prisoner has given indications that he understands the nature and magnitude of the offense.

(4) Motivation for Crime. The prisoner committed his crime as the result of significant stress in his life, especially if the stress had built over a long period of time.

(5) Battered Woman Syndrome. At the time of the commission of the crime, the prisoner suffered from Battered Woman Syndrome, as defined in section 2000(b), and it appears the criminal behavior was the result of that victimization.

(6) Lack of Criminal History. The prisoner lacks any significant history of violent crime.

(7) Age. The prisoner's present age reduces the probability of recidivism.

(8) Understanding and Plans for Future. The prisoner has made realistic plans for release or has developed marketable skills that can be put to use upon release.

(9) Institutional Behavior. Institutional activities indicate an enhanced ability to function within the law upon release.

The board then weighs these factors to determine parole suitability. One factor can lead to a parole denial, for example, getting into recurring trouble while in prison. Relatively minor problems with many factors can also lead to a parole denial. 

However, the key to what has transpired with Manson et al over the years really boils down to one factor: unsuitability factor 2281(c)(1), the nature of the original commitment offense.  

(1) Commitment Offense. The prisoner committed the offense in an especially heinous, atrocious or cruel manner. The factors to be considered include:

(A) Multiple victims were attacked, injured or killed in the same or separate incidents.
(B) The offense was carried out in a dispassionate and calculated manner, such as an execution-style murder.
(C) The victim was abused, defiled or mutilated during or after the offense.
(D) The offense was carried out in a manner which demonstrates an exceptionally callous disregard for human suffering.
(E) The motive for the crime is inexplicable or very trivial in relation to the offense.

This also has been the basis for the Governor’s decision to reverse parole grants. 2281(c)(1) is tailor-made for the Governor. It allows him, by its terms to consider the heinous nature of the crime, regardless of how long ago it was committed. There is no time limitation in 2281(c)(1). 

The Governor

Since 1988, California’s state constitution allows the Governor to grant or deny parole regardless of what the parole board panel does. Specifically, Article V, section 8(b) says this:

(b) No decision of the parole authority of this State with respect to the granting, denial, revocation, or suspension of parole of a person sentenced to an indeterminate term upon conviction of murder shall become effective for a period of 30 days, during which the Governor may review the decision subject to procedures provided by statute. The Governor may only affirm, modify, or reverse the decision of the parole authority on the basis of the same factors which the parole authority is required to consider. The Governor shall report to the Legislature each parole decision affirmed, modified, or reversed, stating the pertinent facts and reasons for the action.

[Aside: It should be noted that since 1988 not a single denial of parole by the board panel has been overturned by the any Governor.]

So, how is the Governor supposed to “only reverse [the parole authority] on the basis of the same factors the parole authority is required to consider”? That is covered by California Penal Code Section 3041.2(a). 

(a) During the 30 days following the granting, denial, revocation, or suspension by the board of the parole of an inmate sentenced to an indeterminate prison term based upon a conviction of murder, the Governor, when reviewing the board's decision pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 8 of Article V of the Constitution shall review materials provided by the board.

So, the Governor’s job is to apply the same suitability factors as the panel and review the same materials submitted to the panel. He or she is essentially repeating the job of the panel except that he does not have the benefit of being at the actual hearing.

Both Davis and Van Houten have seen their parole grants reversed by the Governor. In order to understand why or how it is necessary to understand the case law that has been decided by the California Supreme Court as it relates to parole denials. 

The Courts 

What happens after the Governor denies parole and reverses the board is where the issue gets legally.... well….. muddled. In fact, it is a mess. 

Once a parole grant is reversed, someone like Van Houten appeals the Governor’s decision to the courts by filing a writ of habeas corpus. That literally means 'you have a body [inappropriately]'. The court then reviews the decision of the Governor. 

Anytime a court reviews an executive branch decision it applies what is known in the law as a standard of review. In all cases they get to look and see if some level of evidence supports the decision. The 'level' can be anything from 'eh, good enough' to 'it better be cast iron'. Each of these standards has a name like rational basis or substantial evidence. 

In re Rosenkrantz

In California, the courts do not have the authority to review the basis of the parole reversal. In other words, they don’t perform a new parole suitability review. Instead they review the decision of the Governor (or the board for that matter) based upon what is known as the ‘some evidence’ standard. 

And that originates from the case of In re Rosenkrantz, 59 P.3d 174 (Cal. 2002). Prior to 2002 it was an open question whether a court had the authority to review the Governor’s decision at all.

“Although neither the California Constitution nor any statute authorized judicial review of the governor’s parole decisions, Rosenkrantz also subjected the governor’s decisions to the some evidence standard. Because the governor’s decision “must be based upon the same factors that restrict the [BPH] in rendering its parole decision[s],” the inmate’s liberty interest in the parole decision was the same whether the BPH or the governor made the decision. When the governor conducted his “independent, de novo review of the prisoner’s suitability for parole,” the court concluded that the judiciary had to protect the inmate’s liberty interest and ensure due process of law through the some evidence standard.” 

(Charlie Sarosy, Parole Denial Habeas Corpus Petitions: Why the Supreme Court Needs to provide More Clarity on the Scope of Judicial Review, 61 UCLA Law Review 1134 (2014).

I hope it is obvious that the critical inquiry then becomes what does some mean or, if you will, how much is some evidence? 

Rosenkrantz drove a pretty big nail into the parole possibility coffins of Manson et al. Rosenkrantz explicitly stated that the nature of the crime could be enough evidence to deny parole. The severity of the crime can be some evidence. 

The second issue decided in Rosenkrantz was how the court should review whether there was some evidence to support the Governor's decision. The court concluded that the some evidence standard is to be “extremely deferential” to the Governor or the board and not an independent review of the merits. 

For the next six years in most cases the basis for the Governor’s reversal was the nature of the original offense. Court’s reviewing the Governor’s decision would frequently drift into comparing the heinous nature of this crime to that crime. While it remained predictable that the Governor's decision would be upheld, different courts got there from different directions

In re Lawrence

Then along comes In re Lawrence 190 P.3d 535 (Cal 2008) which gave hope to those who had either been denied parole by the board panel or who had been granted parole only to see it reversed by the Governor. 

Governor Schwarzenegger reversed Sandra Lawrence’s parole grant even though she was a model prisoner, had been granted parole four times and declared not to be a significant danger to the public the board panel and by five psychologists. He did so based solely on the nature of the offense thereby finding her to be currently dangerous.

The California Supreme Court determined that there had to be a rational connection between the nature of the original offense and the conclusion that the inmate is currently dangerous. To the Lawrence court the nature of the crime alone could provide an implication of current dangerousness but that implication had to be confirmed with some other evidence. A many decades old crime, the Lawrence court said would rarely be enough to show that connection without something more. Court’s after Lawrence then, could review the merits of the Governor’s decision to ensure the existence of the connection. 

After Lawrence this meant that in Van Houten's case, for example, just because she participated in the "Manson Murders" and all their horror that wouldn't be enough, alone to establish that she was currently dangerous. There had to be something about her now, today that established that connection. 

The problem with the Lawrence opinion was that the court failed, again, to say how much evidence the Governor (or board panel) had to have to establish that connection. 

Lawrence resulted in the sudden explosion of parole board panel and Governor reversals based upon "lack of insight". This became the other evidence of the connection and typically was taken from the hearing transcript. 

Shaputis II

Then along comes In re Shaputis, 265 P.3d 253 (Cal. 2011)(also known as Shaputis II).This time the court addressed the issue of how much evidence the board panel or the Governor had to have to deny parole. It did not go well for inmates. 

The court decided that a reviewing court “must consider the whole record in the light most favorable to the determination before it”. This means the court is really looking for a way to uphold the determination. 

[Aside: Shaputis’s case it was a parole board panel denial.]

According to the California Supreme Court a reviewing court need find only a “modicum of evidence” supporting the conclusion that the inmate is currently dangerous. 

A parole denial (or a Governor's reversal) failed the some evidence standard only if it “lacks any rational basis” or is “arbitrary.” When deciding if the denial was “arbitrary”, the reviewing court cannot reweigh the evidence or assess the inmate’s current dangerousness, but only determine the existence of a rational connection between the nature of the crime and current dangerousness.

These three cases play out in Leslie Van Houten’s appeal of her last parole reversal in the ruling of Judge William C. Ryan, available here:

First, Judge Ryan acknowledges that the Governor relied primarily on the nature of the offense unsuitability factor 2281(c)(1) and notes that this is permissible. 

“The Governor based his decision on Petitioner's commitment offense, finding that the "crimes stand apart from others by their heinous nature and shocking motive." (Reversal at p. 4.) A commitment offense that is perpetrated in an especially heinous, atrocious or cruel manner is a circumstance tending to show unsuitability for parole. (§ 2281, subd. ( c )( 1 ). ) The commitment offense may be considered especially heinous, atrocious or cruel when: (A) multiple victims were attacked, injured, or killed in the same or separate incidents; (B) the offense was carried out in a dispassionate and calculated manner, such as an execution-style murder; (C) the victim was abused, defiled, or mutilated during or after the offense; (D) the offense was carried out in a  manner which demonstrates an exceptionally callous disregard for human suffering; and (E) the motive for the crime is inexplicable or very trivial in relation to the offense. (§ 2281, subd. 22 (c)(l)(A}-(E).) In this case, all five factors are present.”

Ryan then went on to factually establish the five factors including (E) which was the Helter Skelter motive. 

This is drawn from Rosenkrantz

Then Ryan addresses In re Lawrence and the requirement that there be a connection between the nature of the offense and current dangerousness. He notes, consistent with Lawrence that seldom, after so long a period of time, is there such a connection. But he also says something rather startling, suggesting, contrary to Lawrence, that some crimes are so bad they might not need the connection.

“Ordinarily, after a long period of time, immutable factors, such as the commitment offense, typically no longer indicate a current risk of danger to society in light of a lengthy period of incarceration. (Lawrence, supra. 44 Cal.4th at p. 1221.) The Governor normally may base a reversal of parole upon immutable facts only if something in Petitioner's pre- or post-incarceration history, such as her current demeanor or mental state, demonstrates that she remains a continuing threat to public safety. (Id. at p. 1214.) 

However, Lawrence, supra, actually holds that "the underlying circumstances of the commitment offense alone rarely will provide a valid basis for denying parole when there is strong evidence of rehabilitation and no other evidence of current dangerousness," leaving open the possibility that, in a rare circumstance, the commitment offense alone can provide evidence of current dangerousness and unsuitability for parole. (Lawrence, supra, 44 Cal.4th at p. 1212, emphasis added.)

Petitioner's crimes terrified a generation, and remain imprinted on the public consciousness to this day. If any crimes could be considered heinous enough to support a denial of parole based on their circumstances alone years after occurrence, they must certainly be the crimes perpetrated by the Manson Family, including the LaBianca murders for which Petitioner was convicted. Indeed, if not Petitioner's case, then it is hard to envision what sort of case would support parole denial on the facts of the offense alone. This was one of a series of sickening, "grotesque," brutal, and literally senseless murders, which were at the time the most horrific in California at least since World War II, and are among the most horrific since their commission.”

Judge Ryan is actually going out on a limb here to support the Governor. The 'rarely' reference was not intended by the Lawrence court to leave a window open. It was meant to close the door on the details of a decades old crime being the sole the basis for a parole denial or reversal. Admittedly, the choice of the word rarely by the court left the door ajar.

But then Judge Ryan finds the the belt to go with his suspenders. He finds the other evidence that supports connecting the nature of the crime to current dangerousness as required by In re Lawrence. And it is Van Houten's lack of insight. 

“The Governor's decision was also based on Petitioner's minimization of her role in the commitment offense. (Reversal at pp. 3-4.) An inmate's lack of insight, minimization, or lack of remorse are not listed as unsuitability factors in either Penal Code section 3041 or its  corresponding regulations. However, section 2281 allows the Board to consider "[ a ] relevant, reliable information available," including the inmate's "past and present mental state" and her "past and present attitude toward the crime .... " (§ 2281. subd. (6).) As articulated by the California Supreme Court, "the presence or absence of insight is a significant factor in determining whether there is a 'rational nexus' between the inmate's dangerous past behavior and the threat the inmate currently poses to public safety. '' (Shaputis II, supra, 53 Cal.4th at p.16 218.) Lack of insight "can reflect an inability to recognize the circumstances that led to the commitment crime; and such an inability can imply that the inmate remains vulnerable to those circumstances and, if confronted by them again, would likely react in a similar way."

Notice Judge Ryan doesn't analyze whether there is any evidence of van Houten's lack of insight. That is because Judge Ryan, following, although not citing Shaputis II, concludes that his job is not whether he agrees with the Governor. His job is not whether he believes there is enough evidence of a connection between the nature of the offense and current dangerousness nor does he look at whether there was any, let alone sufficient evidence of Van Houten's lack of insight. His job is simply to see if there is any evidence at all. 

“This court is not entitled to reweigh the evidence before the Governor; rather it is tasked with determining whether the record contains some evidence in support of the Governor's decision. (In re Rosenkrantz, supra, 29 Cal.4th at pp. 656, 665-677.) This court finds that it does, and that there is a rational nexus between the evidence in the record and the Governor's determination of Petitioner's current dangerousness.”

This, of course means that the court is not actually 'judging' the Governor’s decision. There is no standard being applied to the decision. No one is making the Governor prove his point ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ or ‘clear and convincing evidence’ or even by a 'preponderance of the evidence'. Nor is the Governor's decision being reviewed to see if it is supported by some level of evidence. There is no, "well, he needed two pounds of evidence and he only had one" analysis going on here. The test being applied to that decision is: is there any evidence at all or was the Governor’s decision completely arbitrary.

And that means the Manson Clan is likely not going anywhere.

The Prognosis for Parole: Very Bleak

The basis for nearly every parole reversal by any Governor of California has been that section up there that focuses on the commitment offense. The murder crew here have a whopper of an offense. There are movies about it (two more in production), TV shows, TV whatever they are, like Dateline that pop up about twice a year.  There are dozens of books including the original best seller, Helter Skelter. The original crime scene photos in all their gory detail are all over the internet. There are blogs like this one and at least one author subsequently quoted by several other writers has said that this crime ended the sixties. Judge Ryan describes the crimes as "terrifying a generation". 

Combine this with the politics of parole reversals. Why would a governor ever allow a murderer to be paroled? There is no political upside. While actual paroled inmates who kill again are very rare, when they do, they garner headlines. The 1400 or so others who fade into obscurity do not make good headlines. In fact, as to every high profile convicted murderer, as the Governor, it is far better to reverse parole and have a court overturn you than to ever let one pass. Then you can blame those damned unaccountable judges. 

Then there is the argument that but for one of those damned courts the death penalty would have been applied and none of them would be appearing at parole hearings. 

[Aside: In researching this post I was struck by how many current era articles about Leslie Van Houten actually lump her in with the rest saying she was sentenced to death, her sentence was commuted and she became eligible for parole. While all that is true her conviction was overturned and that is seldom mentioned.]

The 'they should be dead' argument doesn't help them. 

Finally, there is no real judicial review. There is no court watching over the process. The ‘some evidence’ standard might best be described post- Shaputis II as the “the Governor says there is evidence, so there is” standard. 

The Impact of The Manson Mystique

Does anyone really believe that being associated in a general or broad sense with the “Manson Murders” doesn't impact the possibility of receiving a parole grant? Whether you murdered Shorty Shea or Gary Hinman or conspired to do so lumps you into the "Manson Murders" as soon as his name is mentioned. This is the case even though probably only the people who read this blog (and others) and a few dozen other people could actually name all nine victims.

Many of the factors reviewed by a 2011 study conducted by the Stanford Criminal Justice Center suggest that the Manson Mystique does impact their parole possibilities. Here are a few quotes and data from that study. 

[Aside: A ‘lifer’ is an inmate sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of life. In other word, they were sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.]

“For the 1499 individuals who served term-to-life sentences who were released from custody between January 1, 1990 and December 31, 2010, the average amount of time served was 225 months or 18.75 years. Of approximately 1,000 lifers who had been sentenced for murder and were released from custody during the 20-year period from 1990-2010, the average number of years served was about 20 years. 

The average length served by the largest categories of crime type is depicted in Chart 9.”

Manson et al have served (or served prior to their deaths) far longer than the average lifer. In fact, they have served more than twice as long as others convicted of the same offense and more than twice as long as their peers, those convicted in the 1970's. 

The parole rate for female lifers is far higher than males. About 25% of women lifers are paroled. The parole grant rate for lifers at the California Institute for Women was 33% for the period 2007-2010.


“A major—perhaps the major—question in public debate about the current lifer population is their risk of recidivating. While data is limited, interim information suggests that the incidence of commission of serious crimes by recently released lifers has been minuscule, and as compared to the larger inmate population, recidivism risk—at least among those deemed suitable for release by both the Board and the Governor—is minimal.”

“In a cohort of convicted murderers released since 1995 in California, the actual recidivism rate is in fact minuscule. In particular, among the 860 murderers paroled by the Board since 1995, only five individuals have returned to jail or returned to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations for new felonies since being released, and none of them recidivated for life-term crimes. This figure represents a lower than one percent recidivism rate, as compared to the state’s overall inmate population recommitment rate to state prison for new crimes of 48.7 percent.”

It should be noted that the study believed but couldn't prove, because of the limited data, that the twenty year term and thus the age of the lifer upon release contributed to these figures. 

This statistic also raises a question about the whole notion of current dangerousness being at all related to the original crime. Lifers don't commit new murders. Of course, the counter argument as to the Manson Crew is that we don’t really know that because Manson Family murderers have not been released yet (except, of course, Steve Grogan, who is one of those successful statistics). 

You certainly don’t want the victims to show up at your hearing like they do at the parole hearings of Van Houten and the rest.

“When victims attend hearings, the grant rate is less than half the rate when victims do not attend.”

However, Van Houten and Davis are far from being the only ones who have had their parole grants reversed. Unfortunately, the data in the study ends in 2010. 

“But, the likelihood of any lifer convicted of murder being granted parole by the Board and not having the decision reversed by the Governor is and always has been slim. In 2010, the probability was approximately six percent.”


All quotes and charts are from: Robert Weisberg, Debbie A. Mukamal and Jordan D. Segall, Life In Limbo: An Examination of Parole Release for Prisoners Serving Life Sentences with the Possibility of Parole in California, Stanford Criminal Justice Center (2011) (Permission is granted for reproduction of this document, with attribution to the Stanford Criminal Justice Center.)

It is, in my opinion, highly unlikely any of the Manson Family will be granted parole and not have it reversed by the Governor. As stated, the Governor has nothing to lose and would likely rather be reversed by a court than be the guy who let out a murderer. 

But section 2281(c)(1) is really the key to understanding what has happened to Van Houten and Davis. On its face 2281(c)(1) allows the board panel or the Governor to look at the heinous nature of the original crime regardless of how many years have passed. He, like Judge Ryan, needs only recite the details of the murders. Then he can pay lip service to the Lawrence connection by citing lack of insight and use any fact he can find to support that. In Van Houten's case that can be the actual fact that she likely did stab an already dead Rosemary LaBianca. This combination makes it easy for the Governor to reverse the panel but it also provides a legitimate basis for that action. 

If 2281(c)(1) did not exist it would be very hard to keep at least Van Houten and probably Davis in prison. Since it does, it is easy.

You may believe that Van Houten and/or Davis should be paroled or you may believe they should be paroled because the panel responsible by law for making that decision says they should. You may be in the camp that believes that should remain right where they are.

But no matter where you come down on that issue or where you are on the liberal-conservative spectrum or where you sit on crime and punishment you should at least take one moment to ponder the real bottom line here.

The Governor of the State of California has the power to change an indeterminate sentence of life in prison with the possibility for parole into life without parole and no one can overturn that decision. 

Pax Vobiscum