Monday, May 31, 2021

Barker Ranch - Strange RV Tours



Monday, May 24, 2021

Shorty Shea: Wrongful Death Lawsuit

March 18, 1971 a lawsuit by Phyllis Shea on behalf of herself and daughter Karen Shea was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.  The suit named Charles Manson, Bruce Davis, Steve Grogan, John Doe Grogan, Mary Doe Grogan and Doe’s 1 through 20, inclusive as the defendants.

 The suit asks for 1.5 million to be awarded to the plaintiffs for the wrongful death of Donald Jerome “Shorty” Shea, husband of Phyllis and father to Karen.  Phyllis claims in the suit that Shorty was the sole support for her and her daughter and that she and her daughter are his sole surviving heirs.

John Doe Grogan and Mary Doe Grogan are Steve Grogan’s parents.  The plaintiff’s attorneys were not privy to Steve’s parents first names at the time the suit was filed, nor were the names ever produced during the time the suit was still “live.”  Steve was under the age of 21 when Shorty’s murder was committed therefore his parents could held financially responsible for his actions.  As an aside, Leslie Van Houten is commonly referred to as being the youngest member of the Family to be convicted of murder when, in fact, Steve Grogan was the youngest member of the Family to be charged and convicted of murder.  He had turned 18 years old about three weeks prior to Shorty’s death.  Leslie turned 20 two weeks after the LaBianca murders.

Phyllis Shea was living in Sonoma California at the time the suit was filed and she retained two Napa California attorneys to handle the lawsuit.  Both of those attorneys have since passed.  It’s quite possible that Phyllis was still married to Shorty at the time of his death.  There are no records of a divorce.  Shorty would have committed bigamy with his subsequent two marriages after Phyllis.   Shorty and Phyllis did not live together for very long after their marriage.  They were separated before daughter Karen was born.

It’s doubtful that Shorty contributed financially to Phyllis or Karen for any length of time after their break-up.  Shorty never had much money and always had trouble keeping up with his bills.  Added to that, Phyllis met another man and had four children with him between 1963 and 1969.  She later married this man in 1982 and according to her 2016 obituary they were together for 54 years.

The 76 pages of the lawsuit are not complete, you can tell that there are missing pages but they are all that I received from my request to the Archives and Records Center at the Los Angeles courthouse.  The suit was eventually dismissed in 1978 due to no parties in the suit making an appearance in court at their last scheduled court date.

PDF file download (202mb file - takes time to download)

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Lesley Chilcott ('Helter Skelter' documentary) on the continuing fascination with Charles Manson [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Tony Ruiz
Emmys May 11, 2021 4:00PM

"We all wanted to do an anthropological dig into the time," declares Lesley Chilcott about the Epix documentary series "Helter Skelter: An American Myth." The series is an in-depth examination of Charles Manson and his followers culminating in the brutal murders of several people — including the actress Sharon Tate — in 1969. Chilcott, producer of acclaimed documentaries such as "Waiting for Superman" and the Oscar-winning "An Inconvenient Truth," acts as director of the six-episode series and is one of the show’s executive producers. In our exclusive video interview (watch above) Chilcott explains why it was important to avoid what she calls "the tabloid-esque coverage" of the Manson family.

Chilcott says that she took on the project in part because she never understood the public’s fascination with Manson, who died in 2017 while serving a life sentence. The director now says that it is the nature of the crimes that explains Manson’s continued presence in pop culture rather than the man himself. "I think it’s because the puzzle pieces don’t fit," she explains. "What possessed these seemingly normal boys ad girls from down the road to join what was most assuredly a cult, and some of them commit these horrific unspeakable crimes? And it’s still not understandable."

Chilcott spoke to some of those "family members" who followed Manson and readily admits that she will never fully understand the hold that Manson had on them. "On the one hand, it makes me think that it could have happened to a fair amount of people," she says. "On the other hand, it was a very unique time in history." Chilcott points to the Vietnam War, racial unrest and the invention of LSD as the perfect atmosphere for Manson’s ability to bring young people into his orbit. "You isolate [his followers] out on Spawn Ranch," she explains. "You give each person a new name. You alternate with sex and love and abuse. You keep the news and time and television away from the people. That’s what we know now as a classic cult."

In examining the political and social undercurrents of Manson’s era, Chilcott sees disturbing parallels with current society. "What we have now that we had then was that we have a lot of mayhem," she declares. "After a while, people don’t have the tools to process all of this mayhem, so they fall in and they follow a person who could be lying to them day after day but they repeat the same phrases over and over again. That’s not that different from now."

However, Chilcott emphasizes that Manson wasn’t worthy of the mythology that surrounded him in his life. "I kind of wanted to knock him off of that pedestal," she exclaims. "Number one because he doesn’t deserve a pedestal. And number two, he was a small time con artist with some really good raps and these desperate acts got out of control. He did a lot of horrible things, but was he a mastermind planner that should be idolized in that way? No."

Monday, May 3, 2021

Murderabilia or Mementos

Recently Debra Tate gave an interview to TMZ regarding items that were up for sale at Ebay proporting to be things that her sister Sharon owned. Debra claims the items are fake and never owned or worn by Sharon and she's probably correct. TMZ

Scroll through the gallery, whoever listed these items was sure asking quite a bit for the things. By the time I went to Ebay to look at the items and see who the seller was everything was taken down, presumably by Ebay. I doubt that everything would have sold in that short time. 

Correction!  Someone sent me links to the items for sale on Ebay.  I used the wrong search terms.

I find it disgusting that people would try to make money selling phony things that were supposedly related to a murder victim or some other tragedy. 

But what about selling the belongings of a victim or someone convicted of a heinous crime through a legitimate auction house where they have been authenticated. I'm talking about bona fide auction houses that do not solely sell things from convicted killers or crime scenes but places that sell all manner of items from antiques to zithers. 

 A couple of auctions that come to mind are one in Canada that sold items from the collection of Billy Jamieson in 2014 and the more recent 2019 auction of Manson related things from the estate of Nuel Emmons. In the case of the Emmons auction all of lots were accrued during the writing of his book. 

You can see the prices realized HERE , once on this page click on "Past Auctions" to see the prices.

And, there was the auction house in Georgia that sold the bed that Abigail Folger slept in at Cielo Drive. 

Debra Tate auctioned off a large number of her sister, Sharon Tate's things, too, at the very legitimate Julien's in Los Angeles. You can see the prices realized HERE

Then there are the so called Murderabilia websites Serial Killers Ink, Super Naught, Murder Auction, Redrum and others. The lots for sale at these sites are a little more dodgy and not necessarily gunuine. These sites generally deal solely in items related to killers. 

But, is there a difference between the legit auction houses and the Murderabila websites in the end? They all sell the same type of items and bank on the fact that the notoriety of the person or crime will bring big bucks to the sellers. 

Sharon's wedding dress sold to Zak Bagan's for a whopping $56,250.00 plus buyers premium and tax. He is now featuring the dress at his Las Vegas "Haunted Museum" where the price of admission is $48 per person and people stand in line for hours to enter. The dress is not displayed with Bagan's Manson booty but in a different area of the building. 

Debra was reportedly told by the auction house that "no one with morbid intentions would be allowed to purchase any of her beloved sister's items." How can the auction house make that guarantee? How can Debra not expect that when someone pays a grand or more for something that they will do what they damn well please with it? How would anyone know if an item was purchased by a straw buyer? 

There was a podcast this last week with Nancy Grace on the subject of Murderabilia with a number of people with knowledge on the subject.   Crime Stories with Nancy Grace

If you don't do Apple, just Google, it's available at other podcast websites. 

What do you think about Murderabilia? Would you buy something that belonged to a victim or killer? Would you tell anyone if you did? Do people like Emmons estate and Debra contribute to the situation by selling their loved one's things?  Do they open the door for the unscrupulous to take advantage of people?

Monday, April 26, 2021

Juanita Wildebush Speaks

The Daily Beast conducted a recent interview with Juanita Wildebush. While much of it are things we know there are a few nuggets of new information.

Charlie, Juanita, Clem, and Sadie huddled together in the back of the Dodge van that had become Juanita's traveling home in the summer of '68. Clem and Sadie made no attempt to conceal their sexual desire for each other, and soon retreated to the upper loft. Now, alone with Juanita for the first time that day at the beach, Charlie knew he had her cornered.

At 24, Juanita was a few years older than most of the free-spirited hippie girls in Charlie's orbit, but no less idealistic, and Charlie knew that. He turned to her and smiled, his eyes wide with enthusiasm, a toothy grin across his face. He slithered his small, compact frame closer to her, and kissed her. She pulled her lips away from his. "What about Carlos?" she asked, referring to her fiancé, the man she'd planned to rendezvous with in Mexico.

He giggled, that little stuttering laugh she initially found so delightful and charming but would later try to erase from memory. "You don't need to worry about Carlos, because I am him, and he is me," he said, his calm, soothing, self-assured voice settling any anxiety she may have had about what was about to happen. Then, he made love to her in the back of the van, while Clem had his way with Sadie in the bed above them. Never one to miss out on an opportunity to punctuate a moment with drama, Charlie even invited Sadie and Clem to join him and Juanita in bed together. That didn't matter much to Juanita, she was open to it, and if Charlie said it was cool, heck, it must have been.

From that moment on, Juanita Wildebush was hooked, so meeting up with Carlos in Mexico would just have to wait. Before that night at the beach was over, she'd agreed to give Charlie Manson not just her van and the $14,000 she had in a trust fund account, but her whole self.

"He was amazing," she says, describing Manson's sexual prowess to me over Zoom. Now 77, a retired social worker who spent the better part of her career helping others who, like her, have escaped a dangerous cult, Juanita lives comfortably in Oregon, a widow, mother, and grandmother. "He was so tender, he would bring you just to the point of orgasm and then he would bring you back. Like a Kama Sutra kind of thing, you know, just bring you up, and bring you up, and bring you back." I had to remind myself that she was describing the lovemaking technique of one of America's most notorious criminals, the Machiavellian cult leader who masterminded the brutal "Helter Skelter" murders in 1969 that shocked the world.

When I ask if sex was a tool Manson used to get people hooked on him, she pauses for a minute. "I think so," she says, as if realizing this for the first time, but this should come as no surprise: she's spent the last 50 years of her life running as far away from Manson as possible.

"I just don't get why this is so interesting to people," she tells me. It won't be the last time I hear her say this.

I ask her about her earliest memories of life before "Charlie." "I had a pretty unremarkable childhood," she says. "My father had had a heart attack at the end of World War II and was given 18 months to live, a year before I was born. And so there was always that undercurrent of he could die any minute. That weighed heavily on me because I was much closer to my dad than I was to my mom," she continues.

Growing up just across the river from New York City in Westwood, a modest New Jersey suburb, Juanita has fond memories of her father but had, at best, a contentious relationship with her mother. "She had a rule for everything," she says. "Like you never went into New York City without wearing gloves. You had to wear stockings. You know, there was just a rule for everything. You don't tip on alcohol. You only tip if there's table service, there were just rules, rules, rules, rules, rules, rules."

Religion was hardly center-stage in the Wildebush home. Juanita was Jewish on her father's side (her grandmother had escaped the Holocaust) but told by her mother she was Lutheran. She has no recollection of going to church or Sunday school as a child.

She starts telling me about ‘the Family' and how they're a band, how they sang with the Beach Boys. I liked her right away.

Summer camp had a profound impact on her as a teen. "It was a girls' residential camp in Vermont and it probably did more to mold me into the person I am than anything else in my life," she says enthusiastically. "It was run on the freedom program," she continues. "We all lived in cabins, two to four campers in a cabin, two on each side of a cabin, no counselor in the cabin with us. The activities were open. I'd be hot and I'd say, hey, I'm gonna go swimming. So you got to really roam free and kind of be independent and roam. "

The way she talks about the camp, it's hard not to make the connection between those early experiences and the ones she would have later with the Manson Family, in the hippie commune she discovered in Los Angeles—Charlie, with his beard, guitar, and New Age ideals, could have easily been mistaken for a Camp Director at any run-of-the-mill free-love community. Only in Manson's case, activities like horseback riding and arts and crafts would eventually take a backseat to those with a darker bent, namely, auto theft, assault, and murder.

Charles Manson was 32 years old when he was paroled from McNeil Island prison in Washington state in March of 1967. Having spent half of his life up to that point behind bars for mostly petty crimes like check forgery and pimping, Manson eventually settled in the Bay Area, where that year as many as 100,000 people converged in San Francisco's neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury for what would come to be known as the "Summer of Love." There, Manson recruited a group of young girls and formed "the Family," a roving band of bohemian nomads doing whatever possible to avoid the straight life, traveling around the country in a modified school bus in search of enlightenment.

The Family settled in the Los Angeles area, first at a flophouse in the Topanga Canyon area that separated the sprawling San Fernando Valley from the Pacific coastline, then at Beach Boy Drummer Brian Wilson's estate in Pacific Palisades, and later at Spahn Ranch, at the northwest tip of the Valley. By the time Juanita hooked up with them, the Family had grown into a full-fledged commune with Manson at the helm, dictating their every thought and action. He kept his followers isolated; at Spahn Ranch there were no newspapers, calendars, or clocks—the only information they received is what Manson wanted them to know.

"View of an upside-down car and a pair of dilapidated buildings on the Spahn Ranch property, Los Angeles County, California, August 29, 1969."

Ultimately, Manson would become a household name in December of 1969, when he and other members of the Family were arrested and ultimately convicted of the grisly Tate-LaBianca murders in August of that year. Fortunately for Juanita, by the time those murders took place, she was long gone from the Family and had no role or participation in the crimes, and has lived under the radar ever since. Now, she's one of the few remaining Manson Family members who can provide a firsthand account of what it was like to fall under Manson's spell—and to make it out safely.

Long before she hooked up with Manson, Juanita pursued an undergraduate degree at the Universidad de las Americas in Mexico City, where she met Carlos, a philosophy major at nearby Autonomous University. "He looked like Jean-Paul Belmondo. He was just dashing—he was an Olympic-caliber swimmer, so he had that swimmer's physique, good shoulders, slim hips. He knew he was brilliant, so he was a bit arrogant," she tells me.

Juanita and Carlos, along with one of his friends from school, would travel around the villages of Mexico, where they came to be known affectionately as "Los Tres" by locals; Juanita stood out with her striking looks and blond hair. Along their many travels, they encountered hippie expatriates who, like Juanita, had grown disillusioned by the political and social climate of the United States and were seeking refuge in a society less consumed with consumerism. Through them, Juanita heard stories about, and became intrigued by, the concept of communal living in the States, specifically, the Hog Farm, an organization founded by peace activist Wavy Gravy, today considered America's longest-running hippie commune and what some say Manson used as a model for his Family.

And it was in Mexico that Juanita had her first experiences with LSD. At college, she'd befriended a chemist from Sandoz Laboratory who would "show up on a Friday afternoon with a handful of pharmaceutical-grade acid pills in his pocket, lay them down on the table and say, ‘This should hold you for a while.' We'd go up into the mountains outside of Mexico City before dawn," she tells me. "We would drop our acid. We'd trip through the day. We'd come down (from the trip), then we'd go home. Yeah, it was beautiful. Just beautiful." However, her dealer friend warned her of the dangers of "street acid." Little did she know the role it would play in her life only a few short years later.

Juanita graduated from university in Mexico in 1967 with a degree in psychology and returned to New Jersey with Carlos, who after a short stay in the States retreated to Mexico with the intention of Juanita joining him there after she'd saved up enough money to purchase a van. "He had an odd view of our relationship at the time," she recalls. "He said to me, you and I are one. There is no need for me to write you. There's no need for you to write me. There's no need to call each other. We are one. But then I didn't hear from him for six months."

She worked for a time at the Aid to Dependent Children program in Patterson until she'd saved up enough money to acquire a Dodge van with a fancy sound system. Then, towards the end of the summer of '68, she bid farewell to her parents and made the cross-country trek to California with a friend in tow, whom she planned to drop in San Francisco before heading south to visit her sister's family in Palo Alto. Then, she would drive to Phoenix, visit a friend, and make her way to Mexico City to rendezvous with Carlos.

On the night before she planned to leave for Phoenix, Juanita's van was burglarized and the $850 stereo that had become her prized possession was gone. Heartbroken, she spent a few hours the next day searching for a shop that could replace it, and found one in San Jose. She kissed her sister and her nieces and nephews goodbye, loaded the van and made her way south.

After replacing the stereo in San Jose, she noticed a pregnant woman leaning against a tree near the on-ramp to the freeway, holding up a hand-written sign that said "Los Angeles." She invited the woman, and the two men with her, into the van.

The woman introduced herself as Sadie. After getting in the van, Juanita says, "she starts telling me about ‘the Family' and how they're a band, how they sang with the Beach Boys. I liked her right away."

They drove south to L.A., and Sadie directed her to Spahn Ranch, a horse property and sometimes Western movie set in the northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley, just outside the city limits of Chatsworth. By the time they arrived, it was dark out, and Sadie invited Juanita to stay for the night. "I can't wait for you to meet Charlie," she told her.

Manson's female followers were notoriously devoted to him, even after the murders, none more so than Susan "Sadie" Atkins, the troubled daughter of alcoholics and one of Manson's earliest recruits. During the trial, news outlets would broadcast startling images of Sadie, Katie, and Leslie (her co-conspirators in the Tate-LaBianca murders) parading through the halls of the courthouse, holding hands and singing Manson's songs in unison. Some of the girls, including Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme (who stayed devoted to Manson for decades even after his murder conviction), set up an encampment outside the courthouse in downtown Los Angeles during the trial, where they could be seen sitting cross-legged on the ground, often singing Manson's praises to anyone willing to listen. When Manson appeared in court with an "x" carved into his forehead and his scalp shaved, many of the girls followed suit. To them, Manson and God were synonymous, and law enforcement's attempts to "crucify" him were only further proof to them that he was, in fact, Jesus incarnate.

Charlie Manson, as Juanita had already learned from her conversation with the hitchhikers, was the leader of Sadie's band. When they arrived at Spahn Ranch after dark, Juanita followed Sadie towards a trailer off to the side of the faux-Western "town" in the center of the ranch. "Charlie! Charlie! Look what we found you!" Sadie yelled out as they approached the trailer. The trailer door opened and out popped a naked man, no more than five feet two inches, grinning from ear to ear, accompanied by his naked lover, a beautiful brunette who went by the name "Gypsy." "They welcomed me in, handed me a joint and asked me if I wanted some tea," she says.

At the ranch, she found herself in the company of warm people just like her, disillusioned with the world as they saw it, more interested in peace and love than material wealth. They were the kind of people she'd been looking for; they shared the same values, they spoke the same language.

That night, "we talked, we hung out, they sang for a while. And then everybody went to bed and Charlie invited himself into my van. And I said, no. I mean, I just met the guy." I ask her if she was taken back by his forwardness. "It's hard to explain what the hippie life was like to somebody who didn't believe it," she tells me, "but it was just all open and free-flowing and you just, you know, you just went where the wind blew you. You know, and that was what you were supposed to do, because the universe would provide."

Still, she rejected Manson's overt advances. "Well, now you're just being selfish," he told her. "But we're gonna fix that."

The next morning, Juanita awoke in her van to a bowl of oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar being offered to her by one of the girls. Moments later, Manson appeared with two cups of coffee to choose from, one with and one without cream. Juanita recalls the image in her mind. "He said, ‘Come on, let's show you around.' "And that's when I got out of the van and I looked around, and it was magical. It was like, hey, I've got a movie set. Look at all those horses. Look at the cowboys over there." I ask if her first impressions of the ranch reminded her of summer camp. She doesn't hesitate. "Yeah, it sort of did."

Spahn Ranch in the Manson years is reported to have had a similar effect on other outsiders who encountered it. Greg Jakobson, a songwriting partner of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson (who invited Manson to live with him in the summer of '68 and nicknamed him "the Wizard"), was so taken by Manson's Svengali-like hold over the young girls in his midst, he tried to convince his friend, record producer (and future Manson foe) Terry Melcher, to finance a documentary about the Family. There's no doubt the ranch would have been an assault on the senses for anyone experiencing it for the first time. The setting was a rustic, boulder-strewn canyon; the sights included horses, ranch hands and a gaggle of LSD-infused hippies cohabiting amidst a decrepit Western movie set; sage and jasmine and eucalyptus perfumed the air. While only 10 miles from the sprawl of Los Angeles, the ranch, with its idyllic location at the foot of the Santa Susana mountain range, was nothing short of an oasis; even today, the terrain feels better suited for a high-end resort than what lies just beyond it.

Ingratiating herself with the group, Juanita found it harder and harder to leave with each passing day. Had she found the utopia she'd been looking for since her days wandering around Mexico as part of "Los Tres"? "I had this pre-formed thing of what life on a commune in the States would be," she recalls. "And all of a sudden I was on a commune in the States, so I was really interested in it. And I kept thinking, oh, God, I should write to Carlos and have him come up here." But that never happened.

One night at Spahn Ranch, Manson organized a group LSD trip in the house they shared together. Once the drug took hold, things spiraled out of control. She describes it to me: "I can still remember it, it was like I was in this Arabian tent, there's Arabian Nights kind of scene and there were pillows everywhere and horses jumping through and people were fighting and yelling, it was really chaotic. And Charlie came in to where I was because I was just watching it and said, ‘I got to find my shoes. I've got to get out of here.' And I stood up and asked him, ‘Where are you going?' And he said, ‘I have to leave, all the love here has gone. I don't know what happened, but I'm leaving.'"

At one point, Family member "Little Paul" Watkins punched her square in the jaw, so she walked out of the house to get some fresh air. One of the male members of the Family followed her out and asked where she was going. "I don't want to go back in there," she told him.

He told her to stay put. The next day, with Manson missing from the ranch, Juanita shared her conversation with him with the Family, and they grew concerned about the whereabouts of their leader. Then, as if nothing had happened, Manson arrived back at the ranch later that afternoon, and the incident was soon forgotten.

"Little" Paul Watkins was, by all accounts, Manson's right-hand man—his best recruiter and a personal favorite among the female members of the Family. When Family members (including Juanita) began defecting from the group of '69, it was Little Paul who initially dug his heels in, boldly confronting anyone who dared challenge Manson's theory on the impending race war, something Charlie called "Helter Skelter," named after the song on the Beatles' White Album he'd become obsessed with. Later, Little Paul would be among those who testified for the prosecution at Manson's trial, sharing details of his former guru's dark philosophies to a shocked courtroom: "There would be some atrocious murders; that some of the sp--es from Watts would come up into the Bel-Air and Beverly Hills district and just really wipe some people out," he said, using racist slang, "just cut bodies up and smear blood and write things on the wall in blood, and cut little boys up and make parents watch."

In November of '68, the Family loaded up the old school bus they had outfitted as their primary means of transportation and set out for the Mojave Desert. They'd learned of the remote Meyers Ranch, a miners' outpost deep in Golar Canyon in the southwest corner of Death Valley National Park. Family member Kathy Giles' grandmother owned the ranch, and they initially planned to set up an encampment there. Manson often shared with the group his fascination with the desert. He believed its vast, empty landscape would provide fewer distractions for his growing Family.

Upon reaching the base of Golar Canyon, they attempted to navigate the bus through the narrow, dusty road that led to the ranch but it proved no match for the rocky terrain, so the Family found themselves hauling their gear up the wash on foot. At this point, Juanita became startled by the sound of bombs exploding in the distance and flashes of light across the sky. "I freaked out," she explains. "We were traveling that day and I absolutely freaked out, ducked my head, covered. It was the scariest thing I had ever been through. And they helped me get up."

Years later, she would visit a psychic medium who would tell her that in a previous life, she'd been a 13-year-old Jewish boy who was smuggled out of Belgium by nuns to escape the Nazis, and the sound of bombing she'd heard that day in the canyon had triggered memories of those events. Later, she would identify the actual source of the sounds: the Naval Weapons Air Station at China Lake, some 20 miles from the canyon.

When it became apparent that Meyers Ranch wouldn't provide enough space for the Family, which by now had swelled to over 30 members, they opted instead to stay at nearby Barker Ranch, which offered more expansive accommodations. They settled into their new life in the desert. By day, Manson would send the Family out to search for a secret cave, the "bottomless pit" that would lead the Family to an "underground city" where they could hide out during the forthcoming race war. At night, they'd drop acid and sit around the campfire singing and listening to Manson preach. Some nights he'd try to orchestrate a group orgy, which never quite materialized.

After a week or two at the ranch, Manson dispatched Juanita and Family members Diane Lake ("Snake") and Little Paul Watkins to Las Vegas to drum up supplies for the group. They spent a few days there fundraising, going door to door and introducing themselves as members of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, collecting food for hungry people in the desert.

On their way back to Barker Ranch, they stopped in Shoshone, a dusty desert outpost on the banks of the Amargosa River not far from Golar Canyon, to panhandle and pick up more supplies. There, they came face to face with Inyo County Sheriff Don Ward, a small bulldog of a man whose children attended the local schools and who'd grown concerned about the hippie contingent infesting his otherwise conservative community. He offered them a simple piece of advice: "Get out, and don't come back."

Fast-forward to March of 1969. Manson and the rest of the Family had gone back to Spahn Ranch to continue preparing for the inevitable race war—spending the majority of their time building dune buggies and "fundraising" to finance their retreat to the desert.

Juanita, along with a relatively new Family member, 19-year old Brooks Poston, had been left behind at Barker Ranch, directed by Manson to "keep an eye on the place." Though the Family told them they would be back to get them in 10 days, they'd been separated from the Family for three months. But then, two unexpected visitors showed up at the ranch in a Dodge Power Wagon.

The men, Paul Crockett and Bob Berry, introduced themselves as gold prospectors from New Mexico looking for a place to stay while they set up their operation in the abandoned mines scattered around the Panamint Mountain range.

"You can't stay here," Juanita told them.

Crockett, the older of the two, took charge. "It's getting dark, code of the desert is you take care of us and we'll leave when it's daylight," he said. "And they offered us food, and we were running low on food, so we all cooked, and we ate together that first night," she recalls.

The next day came and went, and it soon became apparent the prospectors, now living in the small "bunkhouse" about 50 yards away from the main house at Barker Ranch, weren't going anywhere. "We were wondering how the hell we were going to get rid of them before Charlie came back," Juanita says.

Crockett, somewhat of a stoic figure, took a liking to her and Brooks. Despite their urging him to leave, after long days collecting ore samples at the mines, he would join them at night, along with Bob, for dinner and company in the main cabin. "We would sit around the kitchen. Brooks had a four-string guitar, we would sing, and it wasn't very long into this that we started playing metaphysical games," she says. "Paul taught us how to create energy balls in our hands, hold it there long enough and we would throw the ball around the kitchen to each other, sort of like playing keep away, but with an energy ball."

The more he got to know Juanita and Brooks, the more Crockett learned about them, the Family, and "Charlie," whom they seemed afraid of. They learned about him, too—he told them stories about his mentor, "Doc" Bailey, a student of L. Ron Hubbard who used a machine to help his patients overcome their physical pain through the use of electro-magnetic energy. And he talked about "agreements," "hundreds of agreements that we make with other people, and it's the implied agreements that are the strongest," she says, no doubt referring to their precarious relationship with Manson.

Juanita tells me that Crockett picked up on their concern about "outsiders" at Barker Ranch. "Paul said, ‘I can fix that. We can fix that together.' And I said, ‘What do we have to do?' He says, ‘Let's go back down to the wash' (the point of entry into Golar Canyon). We get there, and he says, ‘Just imagine an arch made of energy that fills that wash. And on the arch, it says all those who pass this point must be prepared to pay their karmic debts.' And so we visualized that. We put it up. And people stopped coming. Later, Little Paul told us that Charlie had tried to come up many times and he'd get so far, and he couldn't get up any further."

As images of the gory crime scenes flashed across the screen, Juanita felt a pit in her stomach, and turned to Bob. ‘That's Charlie. That's the Family.'

By now convinced that Crockett had special powers over Charlie Manson, Juanita and Brooks began to join him and Bob on their prospecting excursions into the mountains. Juanita jumped at the opportunity to learn a new trade. "We're all prospecting," she says. "We had our claims staked."

They would pack what little gold they found into small vials and take them to Las Vegas, where they could sell the gold for three times its value in the back of a Chinese restaurant.

Meanwhile, Juanita and Bob Berry developed a romantic relationship, after Bob volunteered to stake out a wild cougar that began showing up at the ranch during the night, and Juanita offered to keep him company.

Eventually, Little Paul and Family member Barbara Hoyt (Bo) made it through the energy field and arrived back at the ranch to fetch Brooks and Juanita and bring them back to L.A. Upon their arrival, Little Paul was shocked to learn that they'd taken up with the two prospectors, more so when they confided in him that they'd decided to leave the Family. Little Paul, in his best efforts to emulate Manson, went to work on Crockett, warning him of the coming race war and all that might befall him if he didn't get "hip" to the scene. Seeing his efforts have little to no effect on Crockett, Little Paul soon became convinced that Crockett had power, perhaps more so than his beloved Charlie, and began talking of defecting from the Family himself and hooking up with Crockett's prospecting venture. But those plans would have to wait—Little Paul had promised Manson he'd come back to Los Angeles and he intended to honor his commitment. So he and Bo bid farewell to Brooks and Juanita, but not before they asked him for a favor.

"When he was leaving, we said, (Little) Paul, will you do us a favor? Some evening when Charlie and everybody are together in the living room, would you tell Charlie that we want him to release us from all agreements implied or direct? And we will do the same for him. And so Little Paul, I guess, went back and did it, and Charlie said something like, ‘That's fine. I don't care.'"

Polish film director Roman Polanski, fresh on the heels of the success of his first Hollywood production, the 1968 horror film "Rosemary's Baby," moved into the ranch-style house in Bel Air at 10050 Cielo Drive with his new wife, the up-and-coming young actress Sharon Tate, in February of 1969. The house had previously belonged to music producer Terry Melcher, whom Manson had crossed paths with a number of times through his Dennis Wilson connection.

On the evening of Aug. 8, 1969, Manson instructed family member Charles "Tex" Watson to take Sadie, Katie, and Family newcomer Linda Kasabian to "that house where Melcher used to live" and "totally destroy" everyone in it, and to do it "as gruesome as you can."

At the house that night were Tate, 8½ months pregnant with Polanski's baby (he was in Europe working on a film); her ex-boyfriend, the flamboyant hairstylist to the stars, Jay Sebring; screenwriter Wojciech Frykowski; and Frykowski's girlfriend Abigail Folger, heiress to the Folgers coffee fortune.

When police were called to the scene the next morning, after Polanski's housekeeper discovered the bodies of Frykowski and Folger on the lawn outside the house, they discovered a ghastly scene that looked like something out of one of Polanski's movies, with blood splattered throughout the house, and Tate's body on the ground with a noose around her neck and her stomach cut open. There was even a cryptic message left behind by the killer(s) on the front door: the word "PIG" written in blood.

The following night, grocery store owner Leo LaBianca and his wife Rosemary were murdered in their Los Feliz home in a similar fashion, and the entire city of Los Angeles went into panic mode, certain they'd been targeted by a serial killer of one form or another. It wouldn't be until December of that year that they'd learn the identity of the killers: a group of drug-induced hippies, members of a religious cult operating inconspicuously in the shadows of the City of Angels.

After she freed herself from Manson, Juanita set about moving forward with her life. At one point, a prospector nicknamed "Heavy" paid a visit to Barker Ranch. When he mentioned to Bob that he was a Justice of the Peace, Bob asked if he would marry him and Juanita, since he had all of the paperwork and could file it at the court in Independence, the seat of Inyo County some 200 miles from the ranch, and he agreed to do it. "I didn't have a dress," Juanita says. "I just had what I had been wearing. I took the curtains off the windows (of the school bus) and turned them into a dress."

Meanwhile, Bob's brother, also a prospector, had a line on an opportunity to mine for turquoise in Arizona, and brought the news to Barker Ranch. With the Golar Canyon operation yielding minimal results, the newlyweds decided to try their luck elsewhere and left Brooks and Crockett behind to carry on without them.

In August of that year, Juanita, Bob and some friends were sitting around a TV in Kingman, Arizona, watching news of the moon landing when a special bulletin about a series of gruesome murders in the L.A. area appeared on the screen. As images of the gory crime scenes flashed across the screen, Juanita felt a pit in her stomach, and turned to Bob. "That's Charlie. That's the Family," she said, though it would be months before investigators would link Charles Manson and his group to the crimes.

Little Paul eventually made it back to Barker Ranch and hooked up with Crockett and Brooks, fully ready to cut ties with Manson. In late September, Manson and the remaining members of the Family finally made it through the energy field and settled in at Meyers Ranch, initiating a stand-off of sorts with Crockett and his camp at Barker.

Manson did his best to woo the hardened prospector to him, but Crockett held his ground. Eager to continue his prospecting in the area, he agreed to offer his assistance to Manson and began bringing supplies up to the ranch in his Power Wagon from the valley below.

At the same time, Sheriff Ward began to grow suspicious of Manson's activities in and around the desert, believing them to be criminal in nature. One day while exploring the area, Ward happened across Crockett, who was en route back to the ranch with a truck bed full of supplies. Initially reluctant, Crockett agreed to talk with Ward about what he knew, and told him everything, furthering Ward's suspicions; by now, Ward was devoting all of the resources at his disposal to take Manson down.

That day would come in October, when park rangers discovered one of their earthmovers had been set ablaze deep in the desert, and followed tire tracks from the smoldering heap straight to Golar Canyon. Crockett, having been told by Manson that he "should be more afraid of me than the law," decided he'd gone about as far as he could at Barker Ranch, and escaped with Brooks over Mengle Pass into Shoshone, where they hooked up with Sheriff Ward, who committed their testimony to tape.

The law descended on Barker Ranch shortly thereafter and arrested Manson and his followers, booking them in jail in Independence on an arson charge. On his arrest report, Manson signed his name "Manson, Charles M., aka Jesus Christ, God." It wouldn't be until December that Ward would learn that the hippies he'd arrested for setting fire to an earthmover were guilty of crimes far worse than that.

Manson, Sadie, Katie (real name Patrica Krenwinkle), Leslie (Van Houten) and Tex, were ultimately convicted for their roles in the Tate-LaBianca murders. Initially all received a death sentence, however, in 1972, those sentences were commuted to life in prison (with the possibility of parole) after the Supreme Court of California ruled that the state's death penalty laws were unconstitutional.

Sadie died in prison from brain cancer in 2009, at age 61, after having been denied parole 14 times. Manson remained in prison until his death at age 82 on Nov. 19, 2017 from cardiac arrest.

That's what the survivor's guilt was about. I had no doubt that had I been there, I would have done (the same thing).
Katie and Leslie remain incarcerated and have been denied parole 14 and 22 times, respectively. Tex, a born-again Christian, also remains incarcerated, having been denied parole 17 times, most recently in 2016.

On Sept. 9, 1971, as Barbara "Bo" Hoyt was preparing to board a flight from Hawaii back to California where she was to testify for the prosecution in the Helter Skelter murder trial, Family member Ruth Anne Moorehouse bought her a hamburger and laced it with a multi-dose of LSD in an attempt to kill her. Hoyt survived and testified at the trial, and Moorehouse, along with four other Family members, were later charged with attempted murder. Hoyt died in 2017 at age 65.

Brooks Poston testified for the prosecution during the trial, helping to explain to the jury the Helter Skelter motive. After the trial, he formed a musical group called Desert Sun with Paul Watkins and performed in Inyo County, California. He eventually followed Paul Crockett to Washington, where he still lives today.

Little Paul Watkins went on to become the founder and first president of the Death Valley Chamber of Commerce and the unofficial mayor of the small town of Tecopa before his death in 1990 from leukemia. He is survived by his second wife and their two daughters, one of whom is the writer Claire Vaye Watkins.

After his confrontation with Manson, Paul Crockett settled into life in the desert and for a period of time, acted as the manager for Brooks and Paul's band. He eventually married his wife of 30 years, Sylvee, and moved to Washington where he started a metaphysical coaching practice, Balance Point School for Personal Evolution. In a 2012 radio interview, Crockett was asked about his time with Brooks and Juanita in the desert, and the deprogramming he did for them. "They were hungry, they were sharing our food," he told the interviewer. "And so later on, it became obvious that they sold out to me for a bologna sandwich." Crockett died on Jan. 10, 2014, at age 89.

As for Juanita, she is content to leave the events of '68-'69 where she thinks they belong—in the past. She stayed married to Bob until his death two years ago, and they had one son together, who now has his own family. Now retired, she built a successful career working as a licensed therapist and has received high esteem from her colleagues for her work with cult survivors. She is lovely, whip-smart, and very funny. I ask her, with the passing of time, if she ever thought about Sadie or any of the other girls she befriended in the Family. "That's what the survivor's guilt was about. I had no doubt that had I been there, I would have done (the same thing). Sadie and Leslie were the people I felt the closest to," she tells me candidly. She even admits that she considered visiting Sadie in prison at one point, though her therapist talked her out of it.

Today, she is a committed and practicing member of the Jewish faith. She often thinks back to the day she first hiked into Barker Ranch when she heard the sound of bombs and wonders if the psychic medium might have been right—she thinks perhaps she was a young Jewish boy in another life.

Very few people in Juanita's orbit know about her time with Charlie and the Family; she has not even shared her past with her neighbors who she regularly socializes with. When she tells me her story, she's remarkably detached from it, but I can tell it still affects her to a degree. I ask her about that. "(I'm hopeful) something good will come out of putting myself out there in a way where it makes me feel better about this whole thing. That like by putting myself out there, I'm breaking the shackles off of me and I'm no longer constrained by this thing, that I have control over it and it doesn't have control over me."

In one of our conversations, I ask Juanita about Carlos. "What ever happened to him?"

She laughs. "Who knows. For all I know, he's still in Mexico, waiting for me."

Monday, April 12, 2021

Panamint Patty Interview

Hello there friends, long time no see. It’s been quite a year for Patty. She broke up with her boyfriend, gave all her best Manson books to George and to Matt, and gave the following interview to Paulcast to crown what has become an accidental ten years of Manson blogging and vlogging on different platforms. In the following interview she talks about how she started out on her journey into the Mansonsphere, what interests her the most, and what she sees as the difference between fandom and scholarship. And, she drinks some wonderfully smooth Willett Bourbon in the process.

Drop in and say hello, won’t you? Patty sends her best. 

Here also is The Paucast interview with Neil Sanders, author of the book "Now Is The Only Thing That's Real."

Monday, April 5, 2021

The Road from Gallup to Albuquerque:

December 18, 1969

 (The auther, who wishes to remain anonymous, thinks that Yana is Linda Kasabian, one of those arrested in the August slaying of Sharon Tate. He also believes that "The Man" Yana talks about is Charles Manson; several members of the commune he led have been charged in that murder.)

I WAS standing underneath one of those towering gas station signs you see by the highway all the time, at the eastern edge of Gallup, New Mexico, when the girl picked me up. It was about nine o'clock. Thursday morning, August 14. The girl driving the car looked about five feet tall, and she wore a leather jacket over a maroon-and-blue striped knit T-shirt, and a hemless mini-skirt made from cut-off corduroy jeans. She had a sharp face-rather pronounced cheekbones, triangular eyes, and a smail, sharp nose. Her blondish hair was uniformly short except for one long, very thin braid in back. There were two long-haired guys with her.

When they asked me where I was going. I didn't really know, so I said Taos, Santa Fe. Albuquerque. Texas... She said they were going to Taos, I said that was great and that what I really wanted to do was to camp out in the mountains. The girl said she'd take me to a commune where I could camp and I eagerly consented.

The two long-haired guys were college students from New Jersey who were headed home after having "made the scene" in L. A. They weren't open or friendly and I didn't much like them. Almost from the moment I got into that old white Volvo. I could sense friction between them and the girl. The guys especially seemed nervous. Apparently. I had interrupted an argument. After a little while, one of them said to the girl. Look, is this even your car?"

"Yes, this is my car." said the girl. She paused. "It's not just mine." she added. "It's mine, it's your, it's anybody's who wants it."

"I'm gonna get rid of this car." said the girl a fear miles later. "

One of the guys asked her why and she said it was because she was getting tired of it.

The highway that goes from Gallup to Albuquerque rises and bends through one small section of hills before stretching out across the desert. As we drove through those hills, the girl told us to look for a place that sold gas and merchandise and that accepted Shell credit cards. We spotted a likely place-it had a sign that said "We accept credit cards" -but as it turned out, you couldn't charge the souvenirs. We stopped and got gas and browsed around this stupid curio shop for some time, looking at the standard souvenirs and the over-priced Indian jewelry. Abruptly, the girl decided we should leave. As we were getting into the car again, she said to us and herself, "Some of that's nice, but I don't want to get hung up on that materialistic bag. I've already done that once."

One of the things that struck me first about the girl and continued to strike me was the lack of sophistication of the things she said and the simultaneous intensity of her conviction. It was obvious, even before she told me, that she had not had much education. The things she said I might have heard before, but not with the same "naive" intensity. The feeling with which she spoke each word overwhelmed my college-conditioned tendency to dismiss without a second thought any ideas expressed poorly or in cliches. I knew nothing about her, but I could tell that whoever and whatever she was, she was something special. I looked forward to spending time with this haunting, strange, wild girl-a witch, she called herself.

About an hour after we left the curio shop the car began to get hot and sputter. The girl repeated her dislike for it. It finally died in the middle of the desert. The upper radioator hose had a leak and the car wanted water. I flagged down a diesel driver who took me about fifteen miles to the next gas station. I bought some electrician's tape and a waterbag which I filled. After waiting quite a while. I got a ride back to the car, fixed the hose, and refilled the radiator. The car started again and ran for a while.

The car died again about ten miles past the station. This time it had water in it but wouldn't restart. The girl and I stood out on the loose gravel and hot asphalt of the road shoulder, trying to get a car to give us a push start. She had no shoes, so she stood with one foot on top of the other, danced lightly on her toes, or sat on the car. She said that it looked like there were a lot of freaks on the road-someone ought to stop pretty soon. I said that was what I had thought, but that all the time I had been in New Mexico. I had had lousy luck on the road. The freaks gave the peace sign. I said, the straights gave you the shaft, and they all drove right by. She said, "Yeah, well they're killing people like that out in L. A."

"Like what?" I asked.

"Pigs that try to act like freaks."

I told her that that wasn't too cool, that I thought the revolution or whatever it was that was going on all around us had to offer something more than an eye for an eye, that it was time we outgrew violence, and that peace had to start with "us" or else the revolution would just be trading one set of pigs for another, one fucking system with no room for deviants for another.

"But you see." she said, "it doesn't matter." She asked me what I thought about death. I dodged the question. I could have given her the drop-going-back-to-the-ocean line, but I mostly wanted her to talk about it. Besides, all that trippy theorizing and intellectual speculation about death is, after all, pretty shallow compared with the feeling you get at the most unlikely moments that you, too, are going home to that big ocean one of these days. With that intense witch of a girl, surrounded by that awesome desert and those miles and miles of highway, and those screaming blasts of air pushed into us by the cars that wouldn't stop. I was in a new world, and I had no use for cosmologies you wear on your shirtsleeve.

"Death is just a hallucination," she told me, patiently and conclusively, as though explaining the answer of a riddle I had given up on. With anyone else I would have laughed. "It's just an illusion that your mommy and daddy put into your head. Your mind, your brain, your, uh, ego dies, but your body-oh-it can live forever. If you're beautiful. And you are, baby," she said, looking up into my eyes with the eyes of someone who is moved by something beyond herself. "You are. Big and beautiful."

When the girl and I talked, our conversation usually followed the same pattern. I was curious about her world and wanted her to talk about it. She was eager to share it. She had amazing confidence in the ideas she held, and her manner was proselytizing. I spoke primarily to bring her out and I tried to use her words. I played along so I could understand her better. In a way I talked down to her, as she may have done to me, but that's what any two people have to do before they can communicate.

A PICK-UP approached, and we turned and stuck out our thumbs. I thought it would stop and apparently the girl did, too, because when it did go by, she ran a few steps after it, leaned forward and squinted her eyes, and returned, "You see," she said. "I just killed them." The pick-up faded in the distance. "I can do that cause I'm a witch."

"How?" I asked, trying not to sound skeptical.

"It's easy. You just close your eyes and erase them. And when you open your eyes-poof." she opened her hands to show there was nothing in them, "they're dead." Then she added, "It's like, have you ever died on acid or something?"

I thought to say that inasmuch as a person experiences ago death. "he" doesn't experience it. Instead, I gave her an unqualified. "Yes."

"Well, it's like that," she said.

Only you don't come down.

A car finally stopped for us and agreed to give us a push. As the car backed around to get in position to push, the girl ran a few steps towards the Volvo, her bare fect barely touching the hot asphalt. Then she leaped into the air, kicking both legs, throwing her arms across her chest and back, and jerking her head back in one joyful gesture. I'd never seen anything like it.

The car started but died before we had gone a mile. The girl said she would hitch on into Albuquerque (about thirty miles) and get a tow-truck. She could use the credit card. It was pretty safe to use a gasoline credit card that didn't have your name on it, she said. All they did if you got caught was pick up the credit card. It was different using a bad department store card. You get arrested on the spot. Her sister had been thrown in jail for trying to buy sleeping bags with a stolen Sears card.

Again I stood with her on the road until she got a ride.

She talked about death frequently. She explained how it didn't matter if pigs were killed because they were going through changes. They would be incarnated as beautiful people that much sooner.

While she was gone, I waited inside the car with the two guys from New Jersey. We kept the doors open and drank the last of the water in the bag, trying to get comfortable and cool. We smoked cigarettes, or parts of them-we were too hot and dry in the mouth to enjoy smoking. "That girl's crazy," one of them said after a while.

"Yeah, she's far out all right." I said. But I left the possibility in my mind that I might be able to communicate on her wavelength.

"She says she's a witch," said the other one.

"But she just uses her powers for good," snorted Number One. Their sarcasm proclaimed disbelief, but there was a tone of defensiveness in their voices. Neither of them seemed to take lightly the girl or even the possibility that she was a witch.

"Do you believe all the things she says?" asked One.

I shrugged.

"I don't like it-all her talk about death," said Two.

One had a watch, and he kept us posted on the time. They talked about when she ought to be back and how much longer they'd wait before they gave up and hitched in themselves. Though I suspected she wouldn't come back. I expressed faith in her return to the others and did not include myself in their deadlines.

The girl did return with a tow-truck after about an hour and a half. One and Two rode on the back of the truck and the girl and I rode in the cab with the driver. The driver was going to try to fix the car at his station, and if he couldn't, he'd take us to a Volvo dealer in Albuquerque. The girl said something to me, but for the benefit of the driver, about how she wished her "father" had gotten the car checked out before she left L. A. By this time, I was quite sure that the car as well as the credit card was stolen.

At the station the driver called in the inevitable check on the credit card. Then he apologized to the girl and said the card was no good and that he had been instructed to pick it up. Furthermore, we couldn't have the car until we payed forty dollars for the tow. And it still had to be repaired.

The girl said her father had been threatening to cancel her credit card and that he had picked a bad time. The driver apologized again to her.

She had three dollars cash. I had six. The other two had quite a bit of money, over a hundred dollars, plus a credit card which was good, but they wouldn't pay on a stolen car. I didn't blame them, but the girl got made and suggested that they "do their own trip." They agreed and left.

She asked me if I still wanted to go to Taos and I said sure. I got my pack and she got her sleeping bag-all she had with her-and we started hitching.

We hit the road, giddy with liberation, dancing and skipping with sheer joy. Relieved of the worry of whether or not the car would run, leaving that big expensive piece-of-shit-machine behind and setting off for a new town together as total strangers, we were free. She asked my name; I told her my first name and asked her

"My name's Yana," she said. "but it used to be Linda. The Devil gave me the name Yana when he cut all my hair off."

The Devil was named Charlie. Sometimes she called him the Man. He was the leader of the people she had been living with in L. A. Yana's hair had been down to her waist before he had cut it all very short in some kind of name-giving ceremony. All except for that one braid in back.

Charlie had learned through meditation about the existence at several places around the world of holes which went down to the center of the earth. Down the Holes will go the Beautiful People to escape the wrath of Black Man who will rise up and slaughter his hateful master. White Man. Some time after White Man has been killed off. Black Man will realize that he has learned all he knows from White Man and that he cannot develop civilization any more on his own. Then the Beautiful People will be invited out of the holes to rule Black Man and further civilization. Only the Beautiful People will love Black Man and will not mistreat him as White Man had.

Charlie and the people he lived with in L. A. were not the only ones who knew about these holes. Donovan knew; in one of his songs he sings, "Take me down through a hole in the ocean." The Beatles knew, and they knew Charlie knew. Charlie and his friends had listened to "Helter Skelter" with headphones for months until they could hear, quite distinctly below the sounds of the instruments and the singing, the Beatles in speaking voices saying, "Charlie, can you hear us? Charlie can you hear us? Call us in London. Call us in London." Charlie had called London and the Beatles had refused to accept the call. Still, their faith was unbroken.

And, Yana added, "Those people I was with in L. A. were the ones who got me into a whole new world of love-making."

THE FIRST ride we got was in a GTO which only took us a few blocks further in Albuquerque. When Yana and I got into the car the first thing we each did was reach for our cigarettes. I offered one to the driver who declined, saying that he smoked too much and was trying to quit.

"I smoke too much," I said.

"So do I," said Yana. "We ought to quit."

"Okay," I said. "I quit." And I threw my cigarettes out the window.

"So do I," said Yana, and she did the same.

The driver let us out at the highway that would take us to Santa Fe and Taos. Before getting on the highway, however, we walked over to a Denny's Drive-In. A sign at the door said shoes were required, so Yana wore my size 11 sneakers. She remarked that society was backwards; the waitress served her first, but Man was supposed to go before Woman.

Yana had grown up in New Hampshire and had dropped out of high school early. I'm not sure when she got married, but it was sometime before she moved to the commune. She had lived in a commune outside Taos with the Hog Farm for about nine months, and had left it about nine months before I met her. Until that time, I had never heard of the Hog Farm. It wasn't until a week later when I saw a newspaper that I learned that the Hog Farm had been in Woodstock while I was with Yana.

About nine or ten months before I met her, several things happened to Yana. Her husband ran off with his homosexual lover; Yana's first child was born; and she left the commune and went to L. A. It was after she went to L. A. that she fell in with the Devil and his gang.

At the time I was with her, she was looking for her husband or the Hog Farm. Ouite unnecessarily, she justified the love shared by her husband and his lover. And she was still looking for him.

We got several rides on the way to Taos. One was with a construction worker who gave us beer and offered to take us all the way to the commune if Yana would ride nude. I declined the offer and Yana said that that wasn't really what the man wanted and it wouldn't do anybody any good.

In between rides, Yana would stand on her sleeping bag to hitch and we'd describe to each other how beautiful the commune would be.

Yana was frequently referring to changes people go through. "That's just a change people go through," she would say. "People go through such funny changes."

When she was pregnant with her first child, her husband started making love to another girl in the commune. "And I'd look at them in bed together." she said, "And I'd just get mad. For a long time I hated Susan and when they were making love, I'd just go away until they were through. They'd say come join us but I wouldn't.

"Finally I realized that if you've got love, it don't matter, and I'd get in bed with them, and I loved Susan. Like, I called her Sister. I was only sorry I didn't realize that sooner. I felt so stupid for acting the way I had, but those were just the changes I was going through."

While in L. A., Yana had gone through "lots of changes."

IT RAINED heavily but briefly during our last ride. We rode with a young kid and two chicks who occasionally went to the commune and said they knew some of the people there. Yana asked them if they knew where her husband and his lover were. They didn't know. They let us out where the pavement stopped on the road that led off the highway to the commune.

It had all but stopped raining, but the dirt road leading through the mountain meadows to thicker woods and the commune was a river of red mud. The sun was setting as we walked the five miles to the commune. Yana slogged along about ankle deep in mud. I held her sleeping bag for her once while she squatted in the road to piss and a few other times at places where the road had sharp gravel. We had to pass up one shortcut because the rocks would be too hard on Yana's feet. By the time we got to the vicinity of the commune, it was quite dark in the valley, though sunlight still shone on the meuntain top.

Yana had "brought another sister into the world." She had had her first child, a daughter by her husband, nine months earlier, and, as I noticed that night, she would be having another child too. The daughter, Tana, as well as a few other infants, had been with Yana's L. A. group. Tana and a little boy slightly older than she had been the favorites of the group. The little boy, Yana said, was like a little king, who, in way, ruled the group. Tana was like his queen.

I asked her where her daughter was. She said that lately she and Tana had been going through changes, and that she didn't want to put ideas into her daughter's head the way her parents had done to her. So she had "given it back to itself."

We went straight to the hot springs on the north side of a little ravine which cut through the commune. As we were crossing the ravine, Yana asked me if I wanted some of the gum she was chewing. I said yes and she parted her lips and put the gum between her front teeth. Thinking she meant for me to bite off the piece that showed in front of her teeth, I went over to do so.

Just as I went to bite it loose, she puckered her lips and I bit her. Her lip bled rather badly. She looked up into my eyes as if I had done it on purpose and said pleadingly, "Don't bite!" If she hadn't said that and looked at me the baleful way she did, I never would have thought I might have done it on purpose. To the best of my knowledge, it was an accident. But I admitted to myself that friction had arisen between us as it had arisen between Yana and the two kids from New Jersey. I apologized to her and said I hadn't meant to bite her.

"Don't bite," she said. "I would never bite you... but I'd love to suck you."

I hoped that was an indication of forgiveness.

Yana told me about "cutting capers" with her friends out in L. A. What they would do was break into some expensive suburban house at night, either alone or in groups, and while making no attempt at secrecy or quiet, take or break anything they wanted to, Yana had gone into homes alone, unarmed, and turned on the stereo or television while she ransacked the house. She said no one ever tried to stop her. They were so "afraid of themselves," she said that they'd just lie frozen in bed thinking, "Oh my God! There's a BURGLAR in the house!"

The sacred Indian hot springs had been "improved" by white man who had built a resort there. The hot water ponred out of the mountain and ran through a succession of four or five partly natural, partly concrete pools, becoming cooler at each step. Through two waterfalls, it emptied into a huge man-made swimming pool which was now lined with moss.

Because it was getting cold. Yana and I went to the very top, stripped, and got into the hot sulfur water. The water was very warm, about 18 inches deep. We glided through the pool with only our hands supporting us and looked out over the rim. We could see the string of little pools; the waterfall and the swimming pool, the ruins of the resort on the right, the ravine beyond, and way off in the night, another row of mountains. Then our shoulders got cold and we slid back into the water. . . .

"IVE DECIDED not to kill you." she said abruptly as we were getting out of the pool.

"How do you mean?"

"I'm not going to destroy your mind. I could, but I don't want to."

"Thanks," I said, neither conceding nor denying her powers.

Shivering, we dried and dressed, and clambered down the mountain: We joined the people at the campfire between the pool and the resort ruins. We chatted with the twenty-odd residents of the ruins, smoked a little dope. Yana borrowed a pair of jeans from one of the residents. I met an AWOL soldier who was traveling through in a VW bus. With him were his wife and a tiny baby and a hitchhiker they had picked up earlier in the day. When they left to find a place to camp that night, Yana and I went with them.

Across the ravine was another loose cluster of permanent camps-one old farmhouse, a converted chicken coop, shacks, and sod houses, Beyond them was a string of transient campers where we set up camp with another group we met. We made a fire and ate beans, fried rice, bread and tomato soup, and we drank coffee. I walked back across to the springs to bum a smoke. Someone gave me a package of Bugler and papers which I took back to the group.

Yana and I found an abandoned VW bus to sleep in. It was windproof and warm and had some extra bedding in it. As she unrolled her bedroll she said. "Look, I forgot that I didn't have my baby with me anymore. "Rolled up inside her sleeping bag was an empty baby bottle and an assortment of second-hand and home-made baby clothes in faded, dull-colored plaids and paisleys.

"See, I'm still going through changes." she said. "It's been a long time since I was without my baby. I'm going to have to get used to it."

Yana was quite disappointed to find unbeautiful people living in her old commune. The group around the hot springs especially; there were a few winos and a moron Indian. She frequently ran "niggers" down. Earlier, I had tactfully tried to get her explanation of why she spoke so badly of some people.

"I'm an open hole" she said.

"How do you mean?"

"Like, when an idea comes into my head from-" she waved her hand over her head-"I don't think about it or reject it. I just let it flow on through. But it's not me." She paused.

"I mean, not really me."

The next morning, she asked me what I was going to do. I said I'd probably hang around the commune awhile. She said she thought she would go somewhere else and look for her husband. She exchanged her sleeping bag for a smaller one that was in the bus and left before breakfast. As we were splitting up, we wished each other luck.

Monday, March 29, 2021

So was Charlie just plain batshit crazy?


When discussing motives, there is a line of thinking that says Charlie (and to a lesser extant his followers) were all just simply crazy, and who can understand crazy, and thus it's pointless to look further.  And in fact there is good evidence to suggest that Manson actually did suffer some mental illness, at least to some extant.

Certainly you can't have a belief in Helter Skelter without a certain level of craziness.  Maybe not so much in believing the coming race war bit (many were prophesizing that) but certainly the stuff about the whites slaughtering each other to pave the way for the militant blacks, their spending 50 years in the desert without having aged a day, the blacks handing power over to you in the end, the underground fountains spouting liquid chocolate, the trees bearing 10 different kinds of fruit, etc., etc.

Helter Skelter by Vince Bugliosi  c.1974  pg.233                                                                                    unk Manson follower:  "Every tuned-tribe of people that's ever lived [has] escaped the destruction of [its] race by going underground, literally, and they're all living in a golden city where there's a river that runs through it of milk and honey, and a tree that bears twelve kinds of fruit, a different fruit each month... and you don't need to bring candles nor any flashlights down there.  He says it will be all lit up because... the walls will glow and it won't be cold and it won't be too hot.  There will be warm springs and fresh water, and people are already down there waiting for him."
He gathered unknowing young women from Berkeley and the Haight-Ashbury, where the clinicians at the landmark free clinic diagnosed him as an “ambulatory schizophrenic” with all manner of manipulative behaviors...
Dr. Smith(of the HAFMC) said, "The problem was that Charlie was disturbed.  He developed a paranoid delusional system that led to violence....  "There are a lot of people like that, and many of them are in mental hospitals.  Any individual who has an all-encompassing delusional system ... If you know schizophrenics, you know how persuasive they can get...

Manson's "Rolling Stone" 12/5/2013 interview                                                                                      "Helter Skelter wasn't a lie. It was just Bugliosi's perspective. ..There was a lot of motives, man. You got a motive for every person there. It was a collective idea. It was an episode. A psychotic episode..."
Emmons:  "Manson's grandfather and uncle both suffered from serious mental illnesses, and his grandfather was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, where he died."   pg275
Manson was first diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1963, when he was incarcerated for check kiting at the U.S. Penitentiary on McNeil Island.  ... During the forty-plus years that Manson has been in CDC custody since the murders, he has been diagnosed with several serious mental illnesses, primarily paranoid schizophrenia and chronic psychosis....
He spent most of his early years of imprisonment there(Vacaville), in the S-Wing of Seguin Unit, the intensive psychiatric segregation unit.   ... In 1985, the CDC diagnosed Manson with schizophrenia...   In 1987, a psychologist recommended placing Manson in mental-health care...
(in 1997) ...that (psychological)evaluation determined that Manson was severely mentally ill, because he was "out of touch with reality" and would not stop rambling incessantly...
Post-1997, a consensus seems to have emerged among CDC psychiatrists and psychologists that Manson suffers from serious, organic, psychotic mental illness.

There is evidence Charlie had already started going off the deep end by the summer of '67, when he got the idea he was Jesus Christ:

Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties  by Dianne Lake  c.2018
Chapter 20  OUT OF SIGHT   re Charlie lecture to the group at Gresham St
"Some of you already know what happened when I first took the sacrament of psilocybin(LSD in another version)." Several of us nodded, but kept silent.
"Mary, you were there."   Mary Brunner smiled and nodded. She was all but glowing with pride.
"In some way, you were all there. You know the truth. I am just reminding you in case you forgot. We were on a mattress and Mary, my Mary, my Mary Magdalene was at my feet. It was beautiful."
Then Charlie's voice got louder; it was booming. "Then I was on the cross.*  I was on the cross for all of you." He arched his back, looked at the ceiling, and put out his arms as if they were on the cross. "They nailed my hands, they speared me, and I wore the crown of thorns for all of you. And Mary wept as I died for you."

And of course claiming that the Beatles are trying to send you secret messages via their albums is another classic sign of the 'delusions of grandeur' so often seen in schizophrenics.

There's a Riot Going On  by Peter Doggett  c.2007 pg305
Manson replayed these tracks over and over, and claimed that he could detect a hidden message from the Beatles, intended for his ears alone.  It was a sure sign of madness....


The trouble is, is that, despite the above quotes, Manson never showed any symptoms of any real mental illness (generally defined as schizophrenia, paranoid schizophrenia, and manic depression) before or after his two and a half years of freedom from '67 to '69.  None of the shrinks who interviewed him in prisons, before and after, ever said he was clinically nuts(and only a trained psychiatrist is qualified to make this diagnosis).  And Charlie never spent any time in any nut house.  So why would he suddenly, in his early 30s, start going off the deep end during that time period?  Mental illness usually starts affecting its victims while they are in their late teens or early 20s, and it is a lifelong affliction.  He wouldn't just start going crazy at age 32 and just as suddenly stop going crazy at age 35.

Dr. Joel Fort interview by Caroline Crawford  c.1997
Some of his(Manson's) ideas are bizarre, but he does not display any overt psychosis.  There are some things he says that could be interpreted as schizophrenic or schizoid.  But he was never close to being judged legally insane despite the best efforts of the media and his lawyers to present him as a madman and a crazy person, an image of somebody who must be severely mentally ill.  His acts were violent, extreme, and clearly antisocial, and he comes across that way in conversations.  But in general, his speech and manner are controlled.


So how do we account for  Charlie's increasingly strange beliefs, or his "psychotic episode" as Charlie himself called it, in the brief two and half years he was out of jail/prison?

Was it the LSD use?  Certainly heavy users of LSD sometimes get into really strange beliefs, and LSD may help to bring an underlying psychosis to the forefront, but there is no evidence that LSD actually causes mental illness.  

Or maybe it was the heavy amphetamine use by the summer of '69.  Prolonged lack of sleep can cause symptoms very close to paranoid schizophrenia.  Though those symptoms quickly disappear with rest and nutrition.  Yet Charlie kept pushing his HS theory without interruption.

I keep thinking of how close CIA mind control dirty trickster Dr. Jollyon West was to Manson at the HAFMC.  The same Jolly West who would, according to author Tom O'Neill, induce a psychotic break in Jack Ruby, Oswald's killer.  Did he somehow do the same to Manson? 

Dr. West complained to Aldous Huxley, famous writer of 'Brave New World,' of the difficulty of attempting to hypnotize people who were under the influence of LSD.  Huxley had a solution:                                                                                               Aldous Huxley: "I suggested to him(JollyonWest) that he should hypnotize his people before they took LSD."

Was Charlie thus hypnotized before his seminal LSD trip, and while later flying high on LSD, did he hear a pre-planted 'trigger word' which set him off on his psychosis?  



*Interestingly, at least two other Mansonoids seem to have had the same "up on the cross" trip:

LADA Transcripts   Trial of Charles Manson for Hinman/Shea murders  Box54-2 pg2280  Ella Jo on acid at Gresham, feels she was "being crucified."
Q:  You thought that you--you felt that you were being on the cross?
A:  Yes.
Q:  You felt as if you were a Christ figure on the cross?
A:  Yes, I did.

LVH taped interview w/ Marvin Part:  She describes a crucifixtion experience during an acid trip.
"One time I had an acid trip like that.   .... I lived in Hollywood one time and I had an acid trip.. and I was up on the cross. It sounds far out but I was, for real.  I was feeling them do it.    And I could feel the knives and the sword when it went in too."

Monday, March 15, 2021

Gary Parsons Discusses Manson Films

An interesting discussion of Manson related films with Gary Parsons of Thelema Films. They wander off to discuss why Manson was convicted when he didn't kill anyone... totally leaving out California's conspiracy laws and the fact that Manson did zero to improve himself while in prison to warrant parole. Other than that brief meander the podcast was informative. The interviewer is young so she offers a perspective of her generation's knowledge about the Manson saga. She's not as jaded as some of us old farts here at the blog. Not sure if that's a good thing or not.


Monday, March 1, 2021

Weighing the Value of Life Versus the Value of a Life Sentence: Part II


"Never mistake law for justice. Justice is an ideal, and law is a tool."

- L.E. Modesitt Jr.

"The Consequences of our actions take hold of us, quite indifferent to our claim that meanwhile we have improved."

- Frederich Nietzche

Below is an updated revisit to one of the first posts I ever did for this blog. California has recently announced a minor change in the parole system which, some think, could affect a couple of the prisoners associated with the TLB case. I thought this would be an appropriate time to take another look at why I believe none of them will ever be released....

Some say Susan Atkins deserved to be paroled and maybe that's so. At the time of her death in 2009, Susan had been California's longest serving female inmate. Susan had become a Born-again Christian and turned her life over to God. Susan did great work over the years helping to mentor other prisoners, and once was able to prevent one from committing suicide. Susan participated in almost every prison self-help and educational program that was available, and even earned an Associate Degree. In all her years behind bars, Susan had only received less than half-dozen minor write-ups. In addition to Susan's impressive post incarceration record, in 2008 she was diagnosed with Brain Cancer. She was granted a "Compassionate Release" hearing at which she could not raise her head, or even stay awake. Susan was partially paralyzed, had trouble even speaking, and could not have possibly posed a threat to anyone. Certainly, it would be merciful to let this woman go home and die among her family. 

But Susan Atkins was the textbook definition of a cold-blooded killer.  Susan giggled and laughed when recalling what happened to Sharon that August night in her taped testimony. She was proud to tell them what happened to Sharon...

"Sharon went through quite a few changes (Laughs), quite a few changes."  

Susan helped to kill Sharon and then used her blood as ink. Susan danced, and laughed her way through the trial with the other girls, and acted as if the entire episode was one big joke. All in front of grieving families and friends of her victims. Susan showed no remorse. None. Susan looked down at a pregnant Sharon, who had just watched her closest friends get slaughtered and was about to lose both her life, and the life of her unborn baby, and told her she had "No Mercy" for her.

Q- Did you do anything to Sharon Tate at that point?

A- I went over and grabbed her by the hand, and put my arm around her neck. She looked at me and begged to let me have her sit down and I was told, before we even got there, no matter what they beg don't give them any leeway. Anyway, I went over and put her down on the couch and looked into her face knowing that anything that I would say, I was saying to myself, in a sense reassuring myself. I looked at her and said, "Woman I have no mercy for you."

-Susan Atkins Grand jury Testimony 12/5/1969

How do we explain showing mercy to Susan Atkins to the Tate Family? 

Some say Patricia Krenwinkel deserves to be paroled and maybe that's so. When Susan died, Pat became the longest serving female inmate in the California system, and has remained so to this day. If you think Susan's post incarceration record was impressive, just wait until you hear Pat's. Pat has maintained a nearly prefect prison disciplinary record. Almost literally nothing as far as write-ups in all these years. She has received a Bachelors Degree, and participated in Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous for Decades, She teaches in prison, works with animals, and has always been considered the one who has shown the most remorse. 

But aside from Tex, Pat was the primary butcher in the TLB murders. They could not have happened without Pat. Pat participated in murder on BOTH nights. After killing the Labianca's in their own house, Pat put a carving fork in Leno's stomach after he was already dead, and then used Leno's blood to write messages on the wall. Between Abagail and Rosemary, Pat stabbed one or the other almost 70 times. Pat also admitted in her parole hearings that she was not under the influence of drugs on either night. She did this with a clear head. Something pretty scary inside of Pat has the potential to come out:

Presiding Member De Leon - Yes, any inaccuracies or corrections or whatever?

Inmate Krenwinkle - All right. With Abagail Folger, I chased her outside onto the lawn and I stabbed Abagail Folger.  How many times? I couldn't tell you. But, at the time I left her body then, I went an called Tex who went over to the body then and stabbed it too. And as far as the Labianca house, when I was in the bedroom with Miss Labianca, I stabbed Miss Labianca a couple times at which she fell to the floor and again, I went and Tex came back in. Because at the time, the weapon I had would not work. I mean, it was not established. So I went and I called Tex and he went into the bedroom then. And I am trying to remember, there was something else. I did not write "War" on the man's stomach. I did take the blood of his stomach and I did put the fork in his stomach and I wrote the words on the wall.

How do we release a woman who was one the primary perpetrators of one of the most heinous crimes in the history of the Country, stabbed multiple people to death, wrote messages with their blood, and when asked once in a parole hearing who she felt she had harmed the most answered, "Herself" ???

Some say Leslie Van Houten deserves to be paroled and maybe that's so. If there was ever a case to be made that one of the Manson Killer's was young, impressionable, and influenced by Charlie and the others to the point that it was really not all of their fault- Leslie Van Houten would be the one to make it for. The youngest of the killers, and also the one who had the least personal physical involvement, Leslie was the one who everyone thought had the best chance at parole eventually. Leslie actually was out on parole for a spell between trials. Leslie proved she could be a functioning and productive member of society when given an opportunity to do so.  Leslie has a record almost as clean as Pat's. Leslie has also earned a Bachelors Degree, and has participated in every self-help program available. Lulu even helped to teach other prisoners' how to read, and study to get degrees themselves. Leslie was interviewed on TV during a special early on after she was transferred off of death row. She was shown in a classroom smiling and speaking out in front of the class in one scene. The prison seemed more like a camp in the video.  In another scene, she was interviewed, and very confidently explained to the interviewer the California sentencing matrix guidelines. She told the interviewer she would be up for parole in 7 years, and would be doing about 7 to 15 years for her crime. That was the average time for a person who had a similar "Commitment offense." Then the parole hearings started. The other Killers who were at Cielo or Waverly, and Bobby and Charlie,  would regularly get the longest possible denials (5 years) allowed at the time. Leslie would regularly get two or three year denials. At one point, Leslie got a 1 year denial, and the board told her it was a "Reward" for her solid efforts.  Leslie has a very impressive post incarceration record for sure. 

But Leslie Van Houten was quite aware of what was going to happen the night she went to the Labianca's and ASKED in. Leslie participated in the torture of a woman who was begging for her life while listening to her husband being murdered in the next room, and then went in the kitchen and made a snack from the refrigerator. Please never forget Leslie knew how this would end up and she WANTED to be part of it:

Presiding commissioner Ferguson- "So she told you all of that including that it seemed wrong and was hard to do. And you felt left out and wanted to be included the next time? Is that correct?"

Inmate Van Houten- "Yes. Early at my going to the ranch, Pat was the one who kept an eye on me. And she was kind of like, I guess placed like a big sister to me. And I was devoted to her. And I knew that she had crossed the line on her commitment to beginning the race war. And it was important to me that I cross that line too. So I wanted to go. I wanted to show my commitment to this belief system."

Presiding commissioner Ferguson- "But she told you that is seemed wrong. Didn't what she told you about her behavior and her actions influence you that it was - this may be wrong?"

Inmate Van Houten - "No. whether it felt that way or not it had to be done."
Leslie said the above not when she was still young, and under the thrall of the group. Leslie said the above at her parole hearing in 2013. Less than 10 years ago. What example do we set by freeing the one member of the Manson Family who actually ASKED to be part of these brutal murders ???

Some say Bruce Davis deserves to be paroled, and maybe that's so. Hell, Bruce didn't even participate in the TLB crimes. Bruce has also found God, and, in fact, helped to convert Susan Atkins to religion as well. Bruce hasn't had any marks against him in prison since around 1980. That is a very long time. I mentioned earlier that a 1 year denial used to be the Parole Board's way of  telling the inmate they are doing a good job and getting close to a date to be paroled. Bruce got 23 consecutive 1 year denials at one point. That must be some kind of record. Bruce was able to earn a Doctoral Degree in Philosphy of Religion, which Bruce has helped to minister others in the prison. Bruce has married, had kids, and tried to live an honest life behind bars. Bruce is obviously a guy who has done his best to turn his life around.  

But Bruce is a wild card. We will probably never really know all that Bruce knows. Bruce was present for Gary, and did nothing to stop it. Bruce not only did nothing to stop Shorty from being killed- he participated in killing him: 

"We were at the ranch early in the morning. Manson came down, said, "Were going to kill Shorty." I said, "What for?" "Well he's a snitch." Charlie is there, Bill Bass is there. He says "You guys take him down the hill to get some car parts, and kill him on the way down the hill."  I was in the car when Steve Grogan hit Shorty with the pipe wrench. Charles Watson stabbed him. I was in the back seat, with Grogan."

" They took Shorty out, they had to go down a hill to a place. I stayed in the car for quite a while but what ... then I went down the hill later on and then that's when I cut Shorty with the knife, after he was... well, I don't know if he was dead or not. He didn't bleed when I cut him on the shoulder."

- Bruce Davis 2012 Parole Hearing Testimony

Bruce was there when Zero committed "suicide" with a loaded gun, and was the only other person present to have touched the gun. That admission sort of led to another. They found no fingerprints on the gun, and as Bruce admitted to touching it, we can assume it was wiped clean. Why? When Joel Pugh also happened to commit suicide, Bruce just happened to be in the same foreign country at the same time. Bruce had a strange habit of being in close proximity to a lot of dying people. in 1973 the police looked into him as a suspect in the murders of Doreen Gaul and James Sharp. He had dated girls living in the same Scientology pad as Doreen. Bruce was even considered a Zodiac Killer suspect for half a minute. Bruce got around, Bruce served as "Comptroller" for the Family, and certainly would have known about almost all of their cashflow and secrets. But Bruce boldly told the authorities he had no reason to cooperate or ask for immunity in other crimes when he already had two life sentences to serve out. Bruce is the one person outside of Charlie who really might have been able to answer some of our unanswered questions. Bruce is also the one person outside of Tex who really might have been dangerous if released, and that is really scary because he has come the closest of all of them to actually being released.

How can we feel safe knowing the shadiest, and sneakiest, of the Manson killers is walking among us? 

Some say Bobby Beausoleil deserves to be paroled and maybe that's so. Even in my own opinion, Bobby probably had the most potential to have a productive life outside of jail. I think Bobby would have gone the way of Clem had he been released. Bobby had the talent, smarts, and personality to make it in society. What he was able to accomplish behind bars is astonishing. Bobby created his own equipment out of scraps. Bobby was able to organize an entire band, and release music. Bobby even did a movie soundtrack while behind bars. Bobby had a website where he promoted his music and art. On that site he had a Q/A forum where, when answering questions, Bobby engaged with his readers and came off as intelligent and articulate. 

But Bobby is a lying fraud. Bobby Beausoleil today is trying to portray himself as the classis case of  "naïve young kid gets caught up in wrong crowd and makes one tragic mistake." But this was not just a forgettable innocent mistake. Bobby killed a harmless guy who called him a friend. A guy who had helped him in the past. Bobby went to this man's house and was happily welcomed in. Then he tried to rob the guy. When that went nowhere, he tortured the guy over two days. He let him slowly bleed to death, and listened to him beg for his life. Then Bobby left him to be eaten by maggots:

Deputy Guenther-  "What did Bobby tell you he went back to the house for?"

Ms. Brunner- "He tried to erase that paw-print on the wall."

Deputy Guenther- "And how many days later did he go back to the house?"

Ms. Brunner -  "Two or three days after Sunday, Tuesday or Wednesday." 

Deputy Guenther - "Alright. Did he describe to you what the house looked like or smelled like or anything like that?"

Ms. Brunner - "He told me it smelled terrible. He could hear the maggots."

Deputy Guenther - "Hear the maggots what?"

Ms. Brunner - "In Gary. Eating Gary."

- Mary Brunner interrogation statement 12/4/1969


Bobby still lies about why he did this to this day. I have read a lot of testimony from court hearings and parole hearings over the years, and Bobby is the only one involved who mentions going to Gary's over a drug burn. Bobby himself has changed his reason for killing Gary once or twice. I think he feels that this new story is the most reasonable for a parole board, and the one that makes him most human. But what Bobby did was not human. Bobby has been flagged from time to time in prison for breaking minor rules, and has produced art in jail that is not as holy as his parole hearing speeches would lead you to believe he leads his life these days. Yes,  Bobby still lets the rebel attitude shine through on occasion. Here is what Bobby once said personally before he decided the best way to get free was to distance from Charlie and the Family:

"I am at war with everyone in this courtroom. It's nothing personal but the world has been gattling at my brothers and sisters and as long as they are ripping off our world, our friends and our children, you better pray I never get out."

Do we really need to send a guy out into society who once warned us all what would happen if we did?

Some say Tex Watson deserves to be paroled and maybe that's so. Tex has made the very best of his situation. Tex has turned his life over to the Lord in a way more complete than any of the others. Tex runs his own ministry and has spent many years counseling, and helping, others. Tex has stayed pretty  free of incidents during his incarceration, and has served as an example to many. Tex earned a Bachelors Degree in Business Management. Tex got married while in prison, and has become father to several children. To listen to Tex today, is to listen to a model of civility and compassion. Tex has shown remorse over the years for his actions, and even had the support of a family member of one of the victim's for a time (Suzan Laberge). Tex had every reason to stay out of trouble if given a second chance. 

But Tex was the Quarterback of the TLB crimes. What Tex did on those two nights has shocked the Nation for over 50 years. It was the actions Tex committed that created the legend Charlie lived. Every scary thing that people say and write about the Myth that is Charles Manson, was inspired by the reality of Tex Watson. There is a special place in Hell for guys like this to burn. Charlie was one thing. A smart person could see Charlie coming. Tex was the guy sitting next to you in algebra class. They guy you never thought about twice. It is easy to see a guy like Charlie for what he is. Tex, on the other hand, is the guy you never thought about twice. To me that is so much scarier...

"As we staggered out onto the front porch, he kept screaming, "Help me. Oh my God, Help me."  I stabbed him over and over, blindly, the whole world spinning and turning as red as the blood that was smearing and smattering everywhere. Finally I shot him twice, and he slumped on the stone porch."

"I ran across the grass as Katie tackled her. Suddenly she stopped fighting. Looking up at me as she lay on her back, she whispered without emotion, "I give up, you've got me."  It was as of  the knife and my hand were one, Plunging up and down. I felt nothing.

- Charles Tex Watson (Will You die For Me)

Do we really need one of the most dangerous animals in the history of our Country moving in across the street?

Some say Charles Manson deserved to be paroled and maybe that's so. Charlie was not present at the Tate or Labiancas house when the murder's occurred. Charlie had spent decades in prison for murders others committed. At the end, Charlie was an old man who just wanted to go back to the desert and play his guitar. Charlie was always smart enough not to get his own hands dirty, if possible, and shouldn't be held accountable all of his life for the crimes others concocted and committed just because he was vaguely aware they were going on. Charlie helped the environment, and protected animals and had a lot of good intentions that he could spread to the world if he had jsut been given the chance. 

But Charlie was the mastermind of these crimes. Whatever the motive, those kids were riled up and sent off by Charlie to do the things that we still try to understand today. Between the stealing, the rapes, the beatings, the murder of Shorty, and the shooting of Crowe, Charlie earned his ending regardless of TLB. Charles Manson was the face of Evil to a generation of people. 

How would we have gotten our children to sleep at night if we had let loose the " Most Evil Man on the Planet" ???

"It was fun tearing up the Tate house, o.k. You should have seen it. People were running around like chickens with their heads cut off. (Defendant is laughing)"

Charles "Tex' Watson speaking to court appointed Doctor.

In the over 10 years since I originally came up with the idea for this post I hope I have gained experience and wisdom. I have met some of the people close to the Family. I have met some people who correspond with them in jail. I have also softened with age lol.  I am not the same ole' firecracker who is ready to engage with every blogger who comes along for days on end to defend my points. I try to be a more positive and empathetic person these days. However, I still haven't changed my ultimate position on this subject. None of the Family should ever get out. 

The scale of justice is still tilted towards the value of life when weighed against a life sentence. It has been getting closer recently, but it still slants in the right direction, even if ever so gently. I believe that age will catch the Killers before the scale completely levels out. Since I first wrote this a few of them have actually gotten the board to vote in favor of parole. Bruce has gotten the votes 4 or 5 times. Still, none of them are free. And a couple were getting close back in the day, and have recently as well. I earlier mentioned Leslie and her 1 year denial. Leslie had a huge amount of support, and momentum. A network of people. Over the years, Movie Directors have visited her and Stars have taken up her cause. Books have been written and "Friends of Leslie" organizations have been founded in support of Leslie. Combined with her minimal personal involvement, and sparkling prison record, How in the world could Leslie NOT get out? 

A couple of people are to thank for that. Lets start with Doris Tate.

In 1982 Doris heard Leslie had gathered a few hundred letters of support and was close to getting paroled. That's when our Hero got to work. Doris was able to generate 350,000 letters in opposition. Leslie got denied. Then she really went to work. Doris was one of the primary few people responsible for the passing of "Prop 8" which among other things allowed for Victim impact statements at parole hearings. This was really affective. The Denials immediately became longer. And, also thanks in large part to Doris, Denials were allowed to be longer. The Victims Families didn't have to relive it as often. Oh, and by the way, no more conjugal visits either. Doris Tate did the early work and she really kept it up as long as she could. She gave the first Victim impact statement. She was willing to sit across Tex, and look him square in the eye. She went to as many parole hearings as she could, and when she could no longer attend, her family took her place. Deb Tate in particular has been tireless in her efforts to be at the hearings and do her part to keep all of them locked up. Others mock her for this. I forever salute her. Most of society does not study this case in depth. They do not understand the family history of Deb Tate they way some of us do. The people on the board, and the general population, view Deb as a grieving sister to one of the victims. And knowing what happened to her sister, Debra's words come across as very powerful and effective. She has been an extremely helpful advocate for the cause regardless of her motivation for doing so, or anyone's personal view of her. 

Then more recently there are the Governors. The last line of defense has held every time it has needed to. The ability of the Governors to have the final say on any of the Manson Family killers being released will not change with the new system. The government simply will not show up any longer at the hearings. That keeps the chances for anyone associated with the Manson name of ever getting out pretty much nil. (Nil is British for zero) There are many people who will tell me the injustice of selectively keeping certain people in jail for much longer than others who committed similar crimes. Others go as far as to call the killers "Political Prisoners." There are a few lawyers associated with this blog and I will leave the legality to them. I am putting my faith in the idea that if the Governor's are denying them parole, that it is within their legal authority to do so. If that is the case. Then there is nothing illegal or unjust about it. They were sentenced to life sentences for taking the lives of others. If they should serve life- that would be the justice they were promised. They are not owed less by the law because a clock ticked, or because they finally decided to play ball. Leslie does not get to decide how long her sentence will be herself, and Pat does not get to make a deal that if she behaves, she is guaranteed a second chance. Let me remind you, that for not a burp in History all of them except Bruce would be long dead. They were sentenced to death. They got a break and it was rescinded, only to be reinstated, with them luckily caught in middle. They got a second chance to live. Their victims did not. It was a technicality that saved the killers, so if it is a technicality that keeps them locked up- I still think they got the better end of the deal. Don't you?  The Killers got to live long lives. All of them had sexual visitations in jail for years. They got married, had kids, got educations. Some became Grandparents. Tex had his own office for awhile with a phone and computer in the prison chapel. A couple of them had websites and did business. They got to experienced some sort of life.

The victims did not. It all ended for them back in those few scary months in 1969. The crimes that still shock a nation today. There are just not many crimes like this. It is why we obsess over it. The Government only gets a few chances to show the largest amount of people that there are some things you just can't do. Only a few cases get this type of attention for such a long period of time. The Manson name was a badge the Family killers took on proudly. They never seemed to understand that although the X' on their foreheads would fade with time, their association with the Manson name and crimes never will. Life in jail is the consequence they must face for the choices they made. We must not try to dissect the legal definition of  how long a life sentence is supposed to last. It is called a "Life" sentence. It offers a chance or opportunity for parole. It does not guarantee it. There is a process for how that decision gets made, if/when it does. The inmates do not get to dictate that process or timeline themselves. Do we really want criminals sitting down with a calculator and working out the math when deciding on if they should do a crime? Is that  a deterrent? There are NO Guarantees in life when you break into someone's house and torture them - write in their blood - make a snack and leave, and then laugh about it in court. Within 15 years of going to jail, Leslie was already complaining she was being treated unfairly. She has been waging war on the "Unfair" system ever since. There are defenders, books, and celebrities all making excuses for her and arguing her sentence is unfair for her crime. Where was the remorse? The genuine comprehension of the hurt and pain she caused? Where was it with ANY of them. Go back and look at the quotes in this post. All were made AFTER the murders. There is laughing. There are threats. Leslie is still saying "It had to be done" 40 plus years later. Have you ever seen the crime scene photo's? Ever read the autopsy reports? What these animals did was inhuman. They beat these people, stabbed them, defiled their bodies, and painted messages with their blood. Then when brought to trial, they danced and joked around with absolutely no respect at all for the people who were suffering and mourning. Leslie was screwed because she did not "Go home" in 7 to 15 years? That would be justice to you? That is how much you value the life of the victims? That should be the end result of her life sentence? What is the value of a life sentence if you give it, and the person you gave it to believes they will be probably be home in an average of 10 years? The sentence given to Leslie, and the others, was Death and then reduced to Life. They are not entitled to anything less no matter how long they wait, or how well they behave. The Killers now want justice. The Families of the victims do as well. 

Shorty, Gary, Steven, Sharon, Jay, Abagail, Voytek, Leno, Rosemary. They can't fight for justice themselves any longer. They have not been around to do that for a very long time. The killers are counting on that, They hope that as more and more time goes by, that people will start to forget. But I cannot forget the victims. I think of the violent way their lives ended and the fear and pain they endured. I think of the way their families and friends had to watch their killers sing and dance through the courtroom halls each day, making a joke about the loss of people they loved dearly. I think of what the victims had to go through in the final minutes of their lives. I cannot stop thinking that none of them ever got a chance to live out their hopes and dreams. I always remember that none of them ever get to "Go home" again. 

Because of the vicious way they are responsible for that, I believe that Pat, Leslie, Tex, Bobby, and Bruce never will either...

- Your Favorite Saint