Monday, October 14, 2019

Shoshone - The Caliche Mud Caves

A video that blog reader Chris did in Shoshone. The cave seen in this video are where Little Paul Watkins and Paul Crocket stayed after leaving Barker Ranch in fear.

These caves are mentioned in My Life with Charles Manson by Paul Watkins and Guillermo Soledad (1979):
"...I continued to work with Crockett and Brooks, but I was divided within myself. I can honestly say that no time in my life was more agonizing than the months between Charlie’s capture and his conviction. I walked a mighty thin line. The view from the middle often gives a panorama of all sides. But my balance was precarious at best, and what I paid for that vantage point in suffering was more than I could afford. That I survived at all appears, in retrospect, something of a miracle.

"The hillsides around Shoshone are riddled with manmade caves, dug originally by itinerant miners, prospectors, and other vagabonds, who, over the years, found the town a convenient oasis in the scorching lowlands of the Amargosa Valley. Shoshone was also a water stop on the railroad line and for a time the site of a thriving hobo jungle which centered in and around the tufa caves. Crockett and Poston were broke and living in one of those caves when I arrived on October 9. Don Ward had told them (as he did me) not to leave Shoshone, that the Barker Ranch was about to be busted.

"The following day, just before dawn, while the three of us slept off a reunion celebration on the floor of the cave, officers from the highway patrol, the Inyo county sheriff’s office, and the national park rangers assembled near Golar Wash for a raid on the Barker Ranch—a raid that lasted three days and resulted in the capture of Charlie and most of the Family. All were taken to the Inyo county seat in Independence (just four hours north of Shoshone) and booked for auto theft.

"I didn’t know then, nor did Brooks or Crockett, that during the raid Stephanie (Schram) and Kitty Lutesinger (Bobby Beausoleil’s girlfriend, who was then five months pregnant with his child) had been trying to escape from the Family. They asked the police for protection and were taken to Independence to be interviewed by detectives. When it was learned that Kitty was Bobby’s girlfriend, she was asked what she knew about the Hinman murder. She said she had heard that Manson sent Bobby and a girl named Susan Atkins to Hinman’s house to collect some money and that when he refused to pay, they had killed him."

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Last Manson Mystery

Fifty years ago, Bobby Beausoleil murdered Gary Hinman. Did he set in motion the Manson killings and the myth of Helter Skelter?

By ERIK HEDEGAARD (Rolling Stone)

On the dusty, heat-blister town of Vacaville, California, halfway between Sacramento and Oakland, sits the bleak squat prison that holds a trim, handsome, highly articulate inmate named Bobby Beausoleil, almost 72, who has spent the past 50 years behind bars for murdering a musician friend of his, Gary Hinman, either as part of a drug deal gone bad or as a straight-up robbery, all depending on which version of events you believe. All of it happened under the dark cloud of another of Beausoleil’s friends, Charlie Manson, the pint-size, so-called hippie-death-cult mastermind ex-con Svengali, who was convicted in 1971 of directing the horrific Tate-LaBianca murders, which left seven people dead and a bunch of his followers behind bars for life, and who died in 2017, much to the dismay of very few.

Beausoleil is in the prison’s visiting room now, hands folded together, fans moving the air around some. He wears jeans, a plain, pressed, standard-issue shirt, rimless glasses; he smiles easily, laughs easily, has kind eyes, professes to follow a Buddhist philosophy, seems gentle enough. Indeed, last January, for the first time since he went to jail in 1969, after 18 previous rejections, the parole board recommended that he be released, based on its finding that he did not pose “an unreasonable risk of danger to society.” It also noted that he “has accepted full responsibility for his actions in killing Mr. Hinman.”

Even so, the board did have its concerns, especially given that Beausoleil’s version of the events that led to Hinman’s murder — the motivation for it — has wobbled about over the years and, in fact, does not at all square with the official version that, in brief, on July 25th, 1969, Manson sent him to Hinman’s to rob the guy of some rumored $20,000 inheritance. When no money was forthcoming, he then ordered Beausoleil to kill him, although not before Manson himself showed up on the scene and slashed Hinman across the ear and cheek with a sword. Beausoleil’s version has the whole thing revolving around a soured drug deal, with Manson ordering no one to do anything. In previous hearings, the discrepancies caused the board to deny Beausoleil parole, figuring his story was basically a way for him to distance himself from Manson and the slaughters that followed, but not this time. It let the long-gone past be long gone and looked only at the future, based on a 2016 psychological assessment stating that Beausoleil was “statistically low risk to re-offend in the free community.”

It was then left up to the new governor of California, Gavin Newsom, to decide whether or not to follow the board’s recommendation.

Beausoleil was hopeful — “I like Newsom. He’s kind of ballsy. He talks a lot about reforming the criminal justice system. I’m not planning on hanging out too much longer in here. I’ve pretty much already said all my goodbyes.” And he made plans. Before jail, he’d been a musician of considerable promise. In San Francisco, he fronted a band called the Orkustra that, at one point, played alongside the Grateful Dead, and for a moment, he played rhythm guitar in what would become the seminal psychedelic group Love. He was a baby-faced kid who was nicknamed Cupid and wore a top hat around town, carrying himself with enough cool-cat swagger that underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger cast him in a movie project, Lucifer Rising. Like everyone else in those days, he was full on into being a rebel. But then he drifted south from San Francisco in 1968, met Manson playing music at some roadhouse around L.A., thought he was talented, spent time where Manson lived with his gang at Spahn Ranch, had a blast roaring Army-surplus wagons through Death Valley, never considered himself a member of the Manson tribe, just liked hanging around them, laughing, getting high, having sex, playing music, being free.

“Man, it was great,” he says. “That’s what people don’t get. At first, it was just fun. Then again, maybe that’s just what Charlie chose to show me, the happy-go-lucky, lighthearted vagabond musician, when he wasn’t being so many other things to other people. Whatever works in the moment. That was Charlie’s unifying philosophy.”

Beausoleil still plays music. While in prison, he completed the soundtrack for Lucifer Rising and has released six other albums since. He’s led several prison bands, playing prison-owned Strats or the acoustic that he wired up for electric-jazz-box sound using a soldering iron cobbled together out of paper clips and a AA battery. He’s also an artist, and his fanciful mythology-based pieces can be seen all over the internet. Two decades ago, he drew scenes of children getting their bare bums spanked that appeared in newsletters like Sassy Bottoms, published by his late wife, Barbara, before authorities caught on and he was forced to stop, even though a postal inspector said it didn’t rise to the level of kiddie porn. Regardless, he has a number of life skills that he thinks should serve him well on the outside. Already, he’s sat down with Holt McCallany, one of the stars of the Netflix show dramatizing the FBI’s early days of serial-killer profiling, Mindhunter, about scoring an upcoming movie project.

“He’s been a model prisoner,” says McCallany. “Having met him and talked with him, my very clear sense is that this is a guy who just wants to try to rebuild what remains of his life. The notion that he would kill again is preposterous, and if he hadn’t been tainted by his association with Manson, he would have been paroled long ago.”

Once out, here’s what Beausoleil wants to do. “First thing, I’d like to get a dog. I’m 71 years old. I still got women competing with each other over me, and I don’t know what the hell that’s about. I was married for 31 years to a wonderful human being, and when she died . . . I don’t want to pair up again. I’m not looking to hook up. I just want to be a bachelor and adopt a companion, which is how I did it when I was on the streets before. The only time I’ve ever gotten in trouble is when I didn’t have a dog. Last one I had was named Hocus.”

In April, however, Newsom reversed the parole board’s decision and thrust Beausoleil back into the system for at least another year, when his case will be reviewed again.

Newsom said he understood that Beausoleil was just 21 years old when he committed the crime. He acknowledged that Beausoleil had spent much of his time in prison making efforts to improve himself, but in the end Newsom couldn’t get over the crime itself. And what he said it led to: “Mr. Beausoleil helped perpetrate the first of the Manson family’s atrocious, high-profile murders in an attempt to start a civilization-ending race war. Mr. Beausoleil and other Manson family members kept Mr. Hinman hostage and tortured him over several days in an attempt to finance their apocalyptic scheme. When Mr. Hinman refused to cooperate, Mr. Manson sliced Mr. Hinman’s throat and severed his ear, before Mr. Beausoleil stabbed him to death.”

Never mind the numerous errors in Newsom’s narrative — for one, Manson didn’t slice anyone’s throat — or that Newsom goes on to say that he’s worried that Beausoleil might start smoking dope again if released, hence he must be considered “currently dangerous.” It’s pretty clear that, in addition to Hinman’s murder, Newsom also holds him partly responsible for the murders to come. And of course, there’s no way any governor in his right political mind would free anyone associated with Manson during the 50th anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca slayings, what with the arrival of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood, featuring a smiling Manson and a goodly helping of the girls looking murderous, along with all the attendant retellings of what happened or may have happened or didn’t happen at all.

Plus, there’s Gary Hinman’s cousin Kay Hinman Martley saying, “The jury gave him a death sentence, and he got a second chance by having it commuted to life, and that’s what he deserves,” while urging anyone who will listen to sign anti-release petitions at And Sharon Tate’s sister Debra saying, “His parole plans include a life of grandeur and becoming a rock star, basically profiting off his crimes. Fifty years and nothing has changed. What happens when he gets out and he’s not getting his way? I’ll tell you: The same shit that happened back then, because that’s the nature of a sociopath. They don’t abide by the laws of God or man. Put him back on the street, and people will lose their lives.”

And so here Beausoleil sits, in the visitors’ room, saying, “To me, my story is how I’ve come to interact with the world and how I’ve transcended the crime and Manson. My story is how I broke through my own prison to comprehend what I’d done to Gary. But I don’t know if that’s enough to ever compensate for taking a life. I owe Gary’s family a life. I made a terrible decision to commit a horrible act. There’s no changing that. Reprehensible. But according to the law, I have done my time.” And yet, even though that might be true, the Hocus of his dreams will just have to wait.

Until recently, the Helter Skelter theory for the Tate-LaBianca murders, as promulgated by prosecuting attorney Vincent Bugliosi, who died in 2015, has been the go-to explanation, pretty much along the lines of what Newsom suggests, to start a race war after which Manson and his followers would assume command of the chaos. It may sound lunatic now, but at the time Bugliosi sold it to the jury and the rest of the country, it somehow made complete sense that a Beatles song could crystallize thoughts of mass murder, such that on August 8th, 1969, Manson directed Tex Watson, a former high school jock; Susan Atkins, who once sang in a church choir; Patricia Krenwinkel, a Catholic-college dropout; and a recent arrival named Linda Kasabian to go kill everyone who lived in the house at 10050 Cielo Drive in L.A. and make it look like the murders were racially motivated. Among the butchered were pregnant actress Sharon Tate, 26, wife of director Roman Polanski; celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, 35; screenwriter Voytek Frykowski, 32; and Folger’s-coffee-fortune heiress Abigail Folger, 25. And then the next night, the killers did it again, again under Charlie’s direction, with former homecoming queen Leslie Van Houten added to the group. This time, they hacked up grocery-store-chain owner Leno LaBianca, 44, and his wife, Rosemary, 38. In both cases, they also left words like “pig,” “healter skelter,” and “death to pigs” scrawled in blood on walls, a door, and a refrigerator. And thus, with the deaths neatly tied to the Black Panthers, was the revolution started.

Of course the uprising never happened, and everyone but Kasabian, who didn’t participate in any of the killings and turned state’s evidence, went to jail, destined for the gas chamber until the death penalty was up-ended and their sentences were commuted to life. Afterward, Bugliosi wrote a book about his triumph, Helter Skelter, which became the bestselling true-crime book in history, and Manson spent the next 48 years proclaiming his innocence, mugging for the cameras, and just in general carrying on like a deranged gooney bird. In 2013, I myself went and spent two days with him at Corcoran State Prison, where he stroked my forearm, alternately calling me “jitterbug,” “soldier,” and “honey,” before announcing that if he could touch me, he could kill me. And then he growled and railed on about how he was “an outlaw, a gangster, a rebel, a desperado, and I don’t fire no warning shots,” which may have unnerved ABC newscaster Diane Sawyer back in 1993 when he barked the same sort of bravado at her, but to modern ears, all it does is make you chuckle, albeit not out loud, because you never know.

Meanwhile, after his arrest, Beausoleil set about doing himself no favors. Called to testify in the 1973 trial of other Manson associates, he said, “I’m at war with everybody in this courtroom. . . . You better pray I never get out.” That same year, he gave an interview to Truman Capote, author of the seminal true-crime book In Cold Blood, for a long time the genre’s Number Two bestseller, right behind Helter Skelter, in which Beausoleil came off as a preening, self-regarding asshole.

Capote: “Did you see Manson as a leader? Did you feel influenced by him right away?”

Beausoleil: “Hell, no. He had his people, I had mine. If anybody was influenced, it was him. By me . . .”

Capote: “Do you consider killing innocent people a good thing?”

Beausoleil: “Who said they were innocent?”

Capote, later: “The truth is, the LaBiancas and Sharon Tate and her friends were killed to protect you.”

Beausoleil: “I hear where you’re coming from.”

Capote: “Those were all imitations of the Hinman murder, to prove that you couldn’t have killed Hinman. And thereby get you out of jail.”

Beausoleil, later: “If a member of our family was in jeopardy, we didn’t abandon that person. And so for the love of a brother, a brother who was in jail on a murder rap, all those killings came down.”

In other words, according to this back-and-forth, forget Helter Skelter and a race war. They had nothing to do with it — it was all done to spring Beausoleil from prison. It does make a certain amount of sense, given that the blood writing at the Tate-LaBianca killings does mimic what Beausoleil wrote on the wall at Hinman’s, using Hinman’s blood: the words “political piggy,” along with a panther paw print. And at one point, Beausoleil did testify to calling the ranch after he was arrested: “I ran some things down to them . . . and within two days seven people were killed.” So, no Hinman murder, no Tate-LaBianca murders.

In recent years this theory has supplanted Bugliosi’s sensationalized Helter Skelter motive as the most probable driving force behind the killings, to the degree that a second-season episode of Mindhunter, as good an arbiter of current pop-culture conventional wisdom as any, pushes the theory. And what the fictional Manson said on the show is pretty much what the actual Manson said when I saw him. “That’s exactly why they did it, in my eye,” Manson told me. And who exactly came up with the copycat idea? Tex and Susan Atkins? “I know, but I’m not telling, because I don’t tell on other people. That’s called ratting. And I’m not a rat.” Then Manson took a moment and said, “It was not one person. It was a team full. It was all, everybody.”

Which is probably true, as well, that the idea could have evolved out of the collective psychotic puddle in which they all swam, which also leaves room for Helter Skelter to have figured into events, along with any number of other theories. That includes the one involving Beach Boys record-producer Terry Melcher, who once lived in the house on Cielo Drive, and who Beausoleil says promised to pay Manson $5,000 for his song “Cease to Exist” and then reneged, which would have made a vengeful guy like Manson murderously angry.

Essayist Joan Didion later wrote of that time, “Everything was unmentionable but nothing was unimaginable.” But out at the ranch, nothing was off-limits or unmentionable, especially as the evenings came on and the acid seeped into the system, and skin touched skin, and all longings, needs, and fears mixed into one. “At first, it was centered around peace and love,” recalls Beausoleil. “Charlie was fun to be around and insightful. He could do these comedic improv sketches, and you would just be in stitches.”

But then, on July 1st, 1969, Tex Watson got into a beef with a black drug dealer named Bernard Crowe, and Manson stepped forward to shoot the guy. He thought Crowe was a Black Panther, that he’d killed him, and that the Panthers were going to come after him, at which point the possibility of going back to prison gripped him around the throat and paranoia flooded his brain. He needed money and he needed protection, which he partly got in the form of a motorcycle gang called the Straight Satans. As to money, Manson had heard that Gary Hinman, a Buddhist hippie musician, had recently come into some, so he decided to rob him and sent Beausoleil to do the job, along with Mary Brunner and Susan Atkins.

Or else straight-up robbery had nothing to do with it. According to Beausoleil, he’d bought 1,000 hits of mescaline for $1,000 from Hinman on behalf of the Straight Satans. Only they took some, said it made them sick, and demanded their money back. So off Beausoleil went, to Hinman’s place in Topanga Canyon, with Atkins and Brunner tagging along, apparently just for the ride. Hinman was a 34-year-old sociology student at UCLA, somewhat of a political activist, a pianist, a music teacher, someone whom Beausoleil had lived with for a short while and considered a friend. “He’s kind of a milquetoast,” Beausoleil says, “but bless his heart, because I respect that now, though I didn’t then.” Getting the money back from him would be no problem.

Beausoleil grew up in Santa Barbara, California, the eldest of five, raised Catholic by a stay-home mom and a working-class dad who made the rounds as a milkman by day and ran a liquor store at night. They lived in a tiny GI Bill tract home. Starting at the age of 12, he became well acquainted with penny-ante trouble, engaging in the kind of truancy that eventually landed him a one-year stay at a reform school when he was 14. Afterward, he took off for Los Angeles, where he began to establish himself as a guitarist, before gravitating north to San Francisco to form the Orkustra, dropping south again, hanging out in Laurel Canyon, where he first took LSD, winding up in the company of Manson, and then arriving at Gary Hinman’s house in Topanga Canyon.

“When I first met Bobby, in the middle of the night, underneath a light, he was 19,” Manson once told me. “He had on a big old stovepipe hat and Indian moccasins and a hawk on his shoulder, playing guitar, picking that guitar like he owned it, lots of soul. He was cool all the way around. He’s a tremendous human being, man. We played a lot of music together. What happened at Gary Hinman’s, he did a good job of what he was doing. He did right. He asked me to help him, and I helped him as much as I could, but he wanted to be the man. And that’s cool. Beausoleil. You know what it means? Beautiful sun.”

Beausoleil’s story about what happened at Hinman’s has changed radically over the years. But here’s what we know, more or less: On the evening of July 25th, 1969, armed with a 9mm pistol, he entered Hinman’s place, along with Brunner and Atkins, and demanded money, thinking that getting it “would be a piece of cake.” Hinman said he didn’t have any. Beausoleil knocked him in the head a few times with the gun. Hinman showed him his checkbook to prove how penniless he was. After some discussion and violence, Hinman agreed to sign over his two jalopies, a Fiat wagon and a late-Fifties VW bus, if only Beausoleil and the girls would leave. Done deal. All was well. According to Beausoleil, they got ready to go.

There was a knock at the door. Hinman swung it open. And there was Manson. One of the girls had called the ranch and gotten word to Charlie that they needed his help. So here he was, offering the kind of help he came to be best known for: misguided, off base, and catastrophic for all involved.

“Charlie!” Hinman shouted, happy, because he’d spent time at the ranch, knew and liked Manson.

Without a word, Manson produced a sword, swung it out, gashing Hinman’s left ear and cheek.

Beausoleil was appalled. He’d been just about to leave, pink slips in hand, and now this. “Why’d you do that?” he asked Manson, as Hinman’s cheek leaked blood all over the place.

Manson said, “To show you how to be a man.” Then he was gone, leaving Beausoleil and the girls to deal with Hinman. At one point, someone — Beausoleil says it was him — attempted to stitch Hinman’s wound together with dental floss. The next day or so was spent trying to persuade Hinman he didn’t need to go to the hospital; that would only get the cops involved. When Hinman couldn’t be convinced, Beausoleil called Manson and said, “Look, man, you’ve left me with this problem. You came and cut this guy. There was no need for that. It’s your problem.”

Manson said something like, “Well, you know what you need to do as well as I do.”

Beausoleil stepped outside. “I paced and fretted and psyched myself up and made a decision. I felt like I only had two choices. Take him to the hospital or take him out. I stabbed him once. I think he was on the floor the second time. I didn’t give myself a chance to think. It wasn’t even a couple of minutes after I talked to Charlie that I did it. I felt trapped. It was animal desperation.” He takes a moment. “What’s become obvious to me over time is that to the exact degree one is under the influence of a fear, desperation, paranoia, and anger is the degree to which one loses the ability to reason.”

Another moment passes. “After killing Gary, I went back to the ranch,” Beausoleil says. “One day, Charlie found me down by a creek and said, ‘How does it feel to kill your brother?’ That was brutal, him saying that. He was twisting the knife. As far as stabbing a man and then having to stab him again because he didn’t die the first time, that was just agonizing.” Shortly thereafter, he got in Hinman’s Fiat and headed north, toward San Francisco. The damn thing broke down near San Luis Obispo, so Beausoleil pulled over and decided to take a nap. The cops rousted him, found the knife that he’d used on Hinman, and that was that. It was August 6th, 1969.

Two days later, with Beausoleil in jail, off Tex Watson went, under Manson’s explicit orders or not, with the girls, to kill and kill some more, leaving signs at the murder sites similar to what was at Hinman’s. Hence, the copycat theory — the only problem with which, according to Beausoleil, is that it’s not true and never has been true, no matter the similar crime scenes or what he may have said to Truman Capote or his previous court testimony about calling the ranch shortly after his arrest or anything else. He says that Helter Skelter was nonsense (“I’d known Charlie for 20 months and never heard him talk about a race war, not even after he’d shot Bernard Crowe”), and so is the copycat idea.

“Look,” he says. “I didn’t call anybody after I was arrested. The only phone at the ranch was a pay phone, and you can’t make a collect call from one pay phone to another.”

What about what Capote wrote in the Seventies? Beausoleil says it was largely fiction, spun out of Capote’s fantasies and booze-drenched brain. “He had a fetish thing going on for handsome young men who killed people. I was just a device for him.” As evidence, he rightly cites the controversies surrounding In Cold Blood, many details and scenes in which, over the years, most people have come to believe were made up or, at the very least, greatly enhanced.

When Beausoleil says these kinds of things, though, it’s hard to know just what to think. He murdered a man. He spent his first 10 years in prison lying about his involvement. His current story, about a drug deal gone bad, is one only he tells. The others involved — Atkins, Brunner — have said it was just a robbery attempt, although Manson occasionally went along with Beausoleil’s explanation. But they’re all known liars, too. It’s a brain-hurting confusement.

To a certain degree, sitting with Beausoleil in the drifting heat of the Vacaville visitors’ room is just like sitting with any other old duffer, with him telling stories about his glory days in San Francisco circa 1967 and the Summer of Love. How he wore that top hat and became known for it and how his band, the Orkustra, had once played a gig opening for the Grateful Dead and he saw a guy in the crowd who wore a top hat too, so he turned to Jerry Garcia and said, “Hey, Jerry, he’s got one just like mine,” to which Jerry said, “Don’t worry, Bobby, everybody knows you’re the original.”

Mostly, Beausoleil has spent his time in prison bettering himself. He’s been a videographer and multimedia content creator for the prison system. He’s worked with at-risk youth. He’s completed various levels of a nonviolent communications program and been active in AA. He’s built his own double-neck guitar, made do with his band when the drummer got sent to the hole before a gig. He improvises.

“No one is defined by the worst thing they ever did,” he says, “unless that’s all they ever did, not even Charlie.” He looks sad now, fingers laced, eyes turning a bit milky. “You know what the hardest thing has been?” he says. “Getting past the shame for what I did. That’s been the hardest thing.”

It’s difficult listening to him talk about shame and how he came to forgive himself for murdering a man he called his friend. Of course, life in prison hasn’t been easy. He ran afoul of some white supremacists — first in a vicious prison gang fight in 1974 and then again when one of them came looking for payback in 1982. “I wound up getting stabbed in the heart and both lungs. Which is exactly what I did to Gary. Karma, man. I effectively died on the operating-room table, and being able to go back through that experience, in a very intimate way, enabled me to bring some kind of closure to that trauma. Crazy as it sounds, when I did, it was really healing for me. What I did to Gary was exactly what this deranged individual did to me. And I was deranged at the time I killed Gary or else I couldn’t have done what I did.”

He says these experiences wouldn’t have changed him the way they did had a friend of his not sent him a piece of paper on which was drawn something psychedelic. Still on death row, he waited until late at night, when the hell of the day was over, and chewed the paper up, embarking on LSD trips that further removed him from his current circumstances and opened his eyes to other possibilities. Even today, he finds it hard to describe the changes that took place, only that “they were the beginning of shaking things loose, that’s for sure. It was cathartic. It wasn’t instantaneous. Little by little.”

But then he comes back to the copycat idea, as he has to, to separate himself from the murder spree that started two days after his arrest.

“It had nothing to do with me,” he says. “I didn’t command that kind of loyalty. Here’s what happened. By sending Tex to Tate’s, he was taking care of two problems. One was, after Tex witnessed Manson shooting the Black Panther, Manson needed to bind Tex to him so he wouldn’t rat. The other was, Terry Melcher had burned him on that song. I know there are stories that he knew Melcher no longer lived there, but I think that’s all bullshit. At one point, I was in a holding cell with Charlie and I said something to him like, ‘What the fuck?’ He’d never admit that he did anything wrong, but he got this embarrassed look. ‘I sent Tex to kill Terry,’ he said. And then the whole thing blew up in his face. So, that’s it. Guaranteed. I have no doubt about it. Tex was going there for one guy. Everything else they say about it, like Helter Skelter and a race war, was after the fact.”

Then again, of course, everything else has also been after the fact. What he says could be the God’s honest, or it could be total bullshit, or it could be a mix, or it could be what he himself has come to believe. Sitting in the visiting room, it’s hard not to like the guy, to want to forgive, to want to believe, to want to forgive even if you don’t believe. He’s been here for 50 years. It’s been a long time.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Demi Moore, Age 16, Dined with Roman Polanski A Few Days Before He Fled the US for Good in 1978

Original Article

Demi Moore’s memoir — now a top best seller– has more takeaways than an In n Out Burger on Saturday night.

One of the top revelations is that Moore, at the age of 16, had two dinners with director Roman Polanski after his conviction for having sex with a 13 year old in 1978.

Moore, who left a rocky home life at age 15 to escape a horrifying mother, launched herself into the acting world. She became fast friends with Nastassja Kinski, who was also a teen (17) and had become Polanski’s lover in 1975 after the death of Sharon Tate in 1969.

Moore says in her book:

“I went with Nastassja to her dance classes, trying to emulate her grace, and one night she took me along to dinner with Polanski. He tracked me down to invite me to dinner a second time months later, and I went with my mom. He was a perfect gentleman on both of those evenings, but he had been convicted of having sex with a thirteen-year-old girl. (I saw this dynamic all around me. Thirteen was a little extreme, but in my world, believe it or not, relationships with underage girls was the norm.

He expected probation following his plea bargain, but the judge saw it differently. Faced with imprisonment, Polanski fled the United States just a few days after that second dinner. He ended up making “Tess” in France; the film received three Oscars, and Nastassja won a Golden Globe. I was disappointed when she moved out of the apartment building. It would be two decades before we saw each other again—unexpectedly, at Elizabeth Taylor’s regular Sunday lunch. When we embraced, it was like a homecoming. We knew each other in a way that no one else could.”

There’s plenty more in Demi’s book, and I’ll pick a few more items next. But it’s definitely worth picking up for yourself and reading. I always fear a celebrity memoir will be like something to be parodied in “Celebrity Autobiography” on stage. But Demi’s book is captivating, to say the least.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Movie Geeks United: TLB in Six Episodes

Friday, September 20, 2019

Newsom denies parole to Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten, overruling parole board

JUNE 3, 2019 4:49 PM

California Gov. Gavin Newsom overruled a parole board’s decision to free Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten on Monday, marking the third time a governor has stopped the release of the youngest member of Manson’s murderous cult.

Van Houten, 69, is still a threat, Newsom said, though she has spent nearly half a century behind bars and received reports of good behavior and testimonials about her rehabilitation.

"While I commend Ms. Van Houten for her efforts at rehabilitation and acknowledge her youth at the time of the crimes, I am concerned about her role in these killings and her potential for future violence," he wrote in his decision. "Ms. Van Houten was an eager participant in the killing of the LaBiancas and played a significant role."

It was the first time Newsom rejected parole for Van Houten. Former Gov. Jerry Brown denied her release twice.

Van Houten was 19 when she and other cult members stabbed to death wealthy Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in August 1969. She said they carved up Leno LaBianca’s body and smeared the couple’s blood on the walls.

The slayings came the day after other Manson followers, not including Van Houten, killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in violence that spread fear throughout Los Angeles and riveted the nation.

No one who took part in the Tate-LaBianca killings has been released from prison.

Earlier this year, Newsom reversed a parole recommendation to free Manson follower Robert Beausoleil for an unrelated murder. Beausoleil was convicted of killing musician Gary Hinman.

At parole hearings, Van Houten described a troubled childhood that led her to use drugs and hang around with outcasts at school. When she was 17, she and a boyfriend ran away to San Francisco during the so-called Summer of Love in 1967.

She later encountered Manson while traveling the coast. Manson had holed up with his "family" at an abandoned movie ranch on the outskirts of Los Angeles when he launched a plan to spark a race war by committing a series of random, terrifying killings.

Despite her youth at the time of the crime, abuse by Manson and more than four decades of good behavior, Brown rejected parole for Van Houten in 2017 because he said that she still blamed the cult leader too much for the killings.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge upheld Brown’s decision last year, finding that Van Houten posed "an unreasonable risk of danger to society." An appeals court will decide whether to uphold or reject that ruling by the end of July.

Manson and his followers were sentenced to death in 1971, though those punishments were commuted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court ruled capital punishment unconstitutional in 1972.

Van Houten’s case was overturned on appeal and she was later convicted and sentenced to seven years to life in prison.

Tate’s sister, Debra Tate, has routinely shown up to parole and court hearings to oppose the release of any Manson follower. Even though Van Houten didn’t take part in her sister’s killing, Tate said she didn’t deserve release under any circumstances.

Supporters of Van Houten said she had been a model prisoner who mentored dozens of inmates and helped them come to terms with their crimes.

Van Houten’s lawyer said in January after her latest release recommendation that the parole board found she had taken full responsibility for her role in the killings, so Newsom would have a harder time overturning the decision to release her.

"She chose to go with Manson," attorney Rich Pfeiffer said. "She chose to listen to him. And she acknowledges that."

Manson died in 2017 of natural causes at a California hospital while serving a life sentence.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Manson & Me: The Human Side of Charles Manson

This new book, published on July 29, opens, “21 years ago, I went to meet Charles Manson in the visiting room of Corcoran State Prison. He was just as special as I expected him to be.”  The last sentences of the book:  Charlie “is like a drug, and his followers, junkies visiting him every weekend to get another hit of the Manson formula. What the formula was exactly? I cannot tell you and no one ever will.”  The rest of the book?  A combination of interviews with Manson, Squeaky, Sandy, ex-cons and others who loved him the most.  Lots of pictures, letters from fans, artwork and poems.  It’s a quick read and and it mentions little about the sheer brutality of the crimes. My initial opinion?  I almost threw up reading it. I was disgusted that the author is a smart, modern woman who seemed to believe Charlie's nonsense and based a book on the opinions of Charlie, wackadoodle Sandy and Squeaky, and others known for making crappy decisions. I finished the book feeling dirty and embarrassed and wishing I’d never decided to write this review. 

Then, I decided to read the book again.

The second time, I read it as a young, empathetic girl might have interpreted it - someone who knew nothing about the crimes. Here’s why:  Since I started learning about this case, I’ve been fascinated by how Charlie influenced normal, smart girls to do things they’d never ordinarily do. I am similarly fascinated by how Hitler convinced smart people to obliterate the Jewish population and how anyone would willingly behave horribly to further a cause. I’ve often wondered whether I would have succumbed to Manson's charms, had I been an impressionable girl in the late sixties. So, the second time I read the book was to gain the perspective of a Manson groupie.  

And I kid you not, I was charmed. I get it now. If Manson presented himself like the book represents him, I can totally see why the Family members fell for it.  In the book, he is a loving, weary old man who wants to be understood. He’s been persecuted all his life.  He feels awful about how everything went wrong in the summer of 1969 – he just wanted to support the decisions of the Family. Many of the other inmates and guards have grown to respect him. He doesn’t know why strangers adore him, but he tries his best to be what his visitors want. Mostly, he wants to die in peace.

Then, I decided to read the book again.

The third time, I read it with a critical eye.  Is it different than the other Manson-related books?  Yes. It’s written in a softer voice. The tone of the book is very gentle. The whole thing is about Manson’s last twenty years, written by someone whose goal was to present him as a human and not a monster. The book doesn't go on and on. It has lots of pictures I hadn’t seen. Was there anything surprising in the book?  Yes. Manson claims to have had recurring nightmares during which he is haunted by the ghost of Sharon Tate, and he keeps trying to reason with that ghost. He also says he wants people to forgive him for what he and the family did. Is the book believable? Meh. 

So...who should read the book?

If you are pro-Manson, add it to your collection right away.  It is, by far, the most sensitive pro-Manson book I’ve read.  You’ll love everything about it.  You’ll feel sorry for this old man who’s been in prison all these years for what he said is Tex’s crime. You’ll be proud of good ole Charlie and happy that someone captured his last years so well.

If you want to learn more about the facts of the case, stay far away from this book. You’ll learn nothing.  Instead, read Helter Skelter.  Read Restless Souls.  Read Deb’s new book about Shorty.  Watch all of Stoner’s videos. Watch Six Degrees of Helter Skelter. Read every blog entry on this site and on Col's old site. 

If you are anti-Manson and think he is delusional and dangerous, you’ll be very offended. Do not read this book under any circumstances. 

If you think you know every single thing about this case, read the book to gain a better understanding of how Charlie captured the hearts of the Family. As you read it, change your perspective to that of a young, impressionable, questioning teenager. It may help you understand Charlie's charm. 

This book is available on Amazon. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Murders of Doreen Gaul and James Sharp

We have explored a few of the unsolved murders that are said to have been discussed on the elusive Tex Tapes.  It has been reported that there were up to 12 murders that could be on the tapes and attributed to members of the Manson Family.  The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office has not said specifically which 12 murders they are but, we know of quite a few that have been suggested as “Manson Murders” from various sources.

Tex Watson was in Texas at the time of the Gaul/Sharp murders so I’m not sure why anyone would think that he spoke of these murders to his attorney, Bill Boyd.  As far as we know Tex did not communicate with anyone in the Family after he left California and I’m not sure how he would have known where to contact them after the Barker Ranch raids.  However, the Gaul/Sharp murders have consistently cropped up as having been committed by the Family, more specifically by Bruce Davis, and they have been mentioned in articles about the Tex Tapes.

Doreen Gaul and James Sharp’s bodies were found November 21 1969 at around 11:00 PM in an alley behind the residence at 1138 South Magnolia, Los Angeles.  They had been placed there after death.  Doreen was nude except for a necklace that newspaper articles described as “Indian beads”.  James was fully clothed except for shoes.  James had an ID bracelet on his wrist with his name, saying he was a member of the Church of Scientology which is why they were identified so quickly.

Both had been stabbed numerous times with a knife blade that measured ½” to 1” in width and 4” in length.  There were also patterned marks on their bodies, they were thought to have been whipped by a chain.  Semen was found on and in Doreen’s body.  Each of their right eyes had been slashed.  These were very gruesome murders.

Doreen Gaul, 19 years-old, was from Albany NY.  She had been in California for about six months prior to her death.  She was the oldest of four children.  Before learning about Scientology, she had gone to parochial school in Albany, graduating in 1968 and was said to be a devout Roman Catholic.  Doreen’s father said she had been planning on coming home as she had become disenchanted with Scientology.

James Sharp, 15 years-old, came from an upper-class family who lived in the suburb of Crestwood outside of St. Louis MO.  His father, a prosperous salesman, said that James was very, very intelligent and he had given James permission in June 1969 to travel to California to study Scientology.

Early on the murders were branded the Scientology Murders much to the church’s dismay.

Newspaper articles made a loose connection between the Church of Scientology and The Process Church of the Final Judgement saying that the Process was an offshoot of Scientology.  That was probably true in a sense as Robert DeGrimston, founder of The Process, was a former Scientologist but there was no legitimate connection between the two, neither church supported the other’s ideology.

A December 10 1969 Los Angeles Times article made a connection between Charles Manson and the Church of Scientology saying Manson was known to have dabbled in Scientology.  If I remember correctly, a Scientology E-meter was found during the Spahn Ranch raid August 16 1969.  That is likely how law enforcement knew Manson had knowledge of Scientology so early after his being charged with the Tate LaBianca murders.

The Scientologists really got into a dither about the rumors swirling around and to that end they made a public statement.  They believed that authorities and others were trying to tie their organization to the Tate LaBianca murders.  Due to these rumors, they offered $30,000. in rewards which were not for the arrest and conviction of those who murdered Doreen and James but rather the rewards were for cleaning up their reputation.

“The $30,000 reward- $10,000 for each of three categories- was posted for information leading to prosecution and conviction of persons responsible for these alleged acts:

1      * Impeding investigation into the murders of Doreen Gaul, 19, and James Sharp, 15, found slain Nov. 5* in an alley.  Both were members of the church. * The church got the date wrong, the two were killed Nov. 21st.

2     *“Knowingly causing to be denied” to police information about “this vile and murderous act.”

3      * Causing circulation of falsehoods including allegations that the church membership “includes notorious individuals… never members of the Church of Scientology… but held by police in connection with other charges.”
From the San Bernardino County Sun December 13, 1969 Page 5

A November 26, 1969 Los Angeles Times article quoted Lt. Deemer saying that there might be a connection between the murder of Jane Doe 59, more recently identified as Reet Jurvetson from Canada, and the Gaul Sharp murders.  The similarities cited that all three victims were stabbed repeatedly by an apparent “fanatic”.  Jane Doe wore hippie clothing much like Doreen was known to wear and was favored by many young female Scientologist.  To that end an investigation was being made to find out whether or not Jane Doe might have been a member of Scientology. The third similarity was that both Doreen and Jane Doe had arrived to the Los Angeles area recently which was determined by the absence of smog in the lungs.

In the interest of presenting the facts of the case we are providing a 22 page pdf of the police report.


When reading the police reports you will find a Property Report on page 5 of the pdf.  Lines 2, 6, and 10 say “threat” when referring to something found on James person.  I believe this is a typo and should read “thread”.

Page 5 also says that a hair was found in James right hand.  On page 19 of the pdf the report states the hair is identified as having the texture of Mexican or Indian hair.  I assume they are referring to Native Americans when they say Indian.  I can’t think of anyone associated with the Family would fit those descriptions except maybe Juan Flynn or Lee Saunooke aka Windy Bucklee and I don’t seriously believe either of them were personally involved in any murders.
Also, on page 19 of the pdf, right above the info on the hair found in James Sharp’s hand, it says that various other jurisdictions have been notified.  It is standard procedure for police to contact other law enforcement agencies who have had similar murders.   

Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office had the still unsolved murder of a Jane Doe found near a quarry August 3 1969 in Lompoc CA.  This location is near where Bobby Beausoleil was arrested for the murder of Gary Hinman on August 4.  Jane Doe was stabbed repeatedly and her throat was slit.

San Jose had the August 3, 1969 murders of Deborah Furlong, 14, and Kathy Snoozy,15, who were both stabbed numerous times.  These murders and the later murder, April 11, 1971, of Kathy Bilek in Saratoga CA were solved.  They were all committed by Karl Warner who had been a classmate and neighbor of Furlong and Snoozy.  He was arrested two weeks after the Bilek murder and plead guilty September 1971.

Napa County had the Zodiac killing of Cecelia Sheppard and wounding of Bryan Hartnell by stabbing at Lake Berryessa.  This bizarre attack by a hooded attacker has never been solved.  I’m not exactly certain why San Francisco was read into the Gaul Sharp murders but by November 1969 San Francisco was the lead agency in charge of the Zodiac murders.

Page 20 of the pdf gets closer to investigating the Family.  12-30-1969 at 2000 hours says that two journalists believe there is a connection between Gaul Sharp and Tate LaBianca.  To that end they have gone to Bishop CA and interviewed “several nomads” some of who claim to be Scientologists.

Further down that page detectives actually interview Family members at a residence located on Cerro Gordo Drive in Los Angeles.  The home was searched and no evidence of murder was found.  This is not a residence that I am familiar with being associated with the Family and no Family members are named.  It’s anyone’s guess whether or not they truly interviewed someone associated with the Family.

On the face of it nothing stands out as implicating the Family in these murders.  The police report doesn’t offer any solid evidence in that direction and, in fact, tends to rule them out solely based on the hair found in James Sharp’s hand.   Bruce Davis got the attention of Bill Nelson because Bruce spent a few months in London England studying Scientology.

Let’s hope that the evidence that could be tested for DNA, the hair and the semen, was stored properly all these years and the families of these two people can have some sort of resolution.

HERE are some very graphic crime scene photos that are from Bill Nelson's "Manson Behind the Scenes".  Do not open if you are the least bit queasy or object to these type of photos.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Jason Freeman Compelled to Give DNA

In the continuing saga of settling Charles Manson's estate the judge overseeing the proceedings has answered Michael Channels motion to have Jason Freeman's DNA compared to Charles Manson's DNA to determine whether or not Freeman is Manson's grandson.

Michael Channels

There have been a few court hearings over Manson's estate since we last visited this subject.  The past couple of court hearing have Channels submitting a motion to have Freeman's DNA tested.  The judge said that he would need to explore whether or not it was possible for the court to demand DNA from Freeman.

Freeman has declined to voluntarily produce a DNA sample but said he would, if the court ruled that he had to submit his DNA.

Jason Freeman

I think this might be a precedent setting decision by the judge because the decision does not cite any previous cases on the subject of DNA.  But I will let our resident attorneys weigh in on that aspect.

Here is a transcription of the judge's decision-

Probate Division Stanley Mosk Dept. - 9, Stanley Mosk Dept. - 9
In re: Manson, Charles M. - Decedent
August 30, 2019
8:30 AM

Honorable Clifford Klein, Judge
Janelle Brooks, Judicial Assistant Not Reported, Court Reporter
NATURE OF PROCEEDINGS: Ruling on Submitted Matter

The following parties are present for the aforementioned proceeding:
No appearances.

Out of the presence of the court reporter, the Court makes the following findings and orders:

The Court having taken the above captioned matter under submission on Thursday, August 22, 2019 hereby rules as follows:

Motion to Compel DNA Testing

Ruling on Submitted Matter:

This case concerns the estate of Charles Manson. He was admitted to state prison in 1971 and died on November 19, 2017. His estate is now at issue.

Charles Manson Jr.’s, a.k.a. Charles Jay White, statement that he was one of Charles Manson’s children is notcontested in this case. Mr. White predeceased Manson, dying in Colorado in 1993. Jason L. Freeman states he isthe son of Mr. White, and thus the grandson of Charles Manson. This petition alleges that that the decedent died intestate, that Freeman is an heir and is entitled to Letters of Administration. Freeman nominated Dale Kiken to
act as administrator, per Prob. Code § 8465.

Michael A. Channels filed an Objection to the Petition. On January 22, 2018, Channels filed his own Petition,seeking to probate a will allegedly executed by Manson in 2002, which expressly disinherited his sons as well as any other known or unknown children, and which purportedly give his entire estate to Channels.

This motion concerns an allegation by Channels that Freeman is not the decedent’s grandson. The motion is to compel Freeman to undergo DNA testing. The decedent’s DNA is reportedly available from the Department of Corrections or the Kern County Coroner where the autopsy was conducted. There is no evidence that a sample of the DNA of Charles Manson Jr./Charles Jay White, Freeman’s alleged father, is available.

Although White does not appear as the father on Freeman’s birth certificate, a 1986 default family court judgment of the state of Ohio provides that it is “ORDERED ADJUDGED, AND DECREED” the Defendant Charles Jay White aka Charles Millis Manson, Jr., “shall be, and hereby is, determined to be the natural father of Jason Lee Freeman.” The court order stated that White was served by “certified mail”, but does not indicate there was any postal documentation that he received the mail, nor that he received the notice of the court’s judgment. White resided in Texas and did not appear in the case. Court records do not indicate what contacts White had in Ohio, although this court presumes the Ohio court had legal jurisdiction. There is no record that this order was ever enforced, that the child support payments ordered were ever collected, that Mr. Channels was served with notice of this proceeding, or that he appeared. This raises the question of whether this Court is bound by the default judgment of paternity.

Basic intestate succession law provides that the estate of a deceased person shall, if the deceased is unmarried, pass to their children, or to the issue of their children. (See Prob. Code § 6400 et seq.) Parenthood is thus relevant to establishing intestate succession. Probate Code § 6534 provides for how a parent-child
relationship may be established for purposes of probate:

For the purpose of determining whether a person is a “natural parent” . . . :

(a) A natural parent and child relationship is established where that relationship is presumed and not rebutted pursuant to the Uniform Parentage Act (Part 3 (commencing with Section 7600) of Division 12 of the Family Code).

(b) A natural parent and child relationship may be established pursuant to any other provisions of the Uniform Parentage Act, except that the relationship may not be established by an action under subdivision (c) of Section 7630 of the Family Code unless any of the following conditions exist:

(1) A court order was entered during the parent’s lifetime declaring parentage.

(2) Parentage is established by clear and convincing evidence that the parent has openly held out the child as that parent’s own.

(3) It was impossible for the parent to hold out the child as that parent’s own and parentage is established by clear and convincing evidence, which may include genetic DNA evidence acquired during the parent’s lifetime. (Prob. Code § 6453.)

Per section 7636 of the Family Code, “the judgment or order of the court determining the existence or nonexistence of the parent and child relationship is determinative for all purposes except for actions brought pursuant to Section 270 of the Penal Code.” (Fam. Code § 7636). Family Code § 7646 does provide that a
judgment establishing paternity may be set aside or vacated based upon genetic testing in some circumstances inapplicable to the facts in this case.

Per section 5604 of the Family Code, “a previous determination of paternity made by another state, whether established through voluntary acknowledgment procedures in effect in that state or through an administrative or judicial process shall be given full faith and credit by the courts in this state, and shall have the same effect as a paternity determination made in this state and may be enforced and satisfied in a like manner.” (Fam. Code § 5604 [emphasis added].) A default judgment for paternity in Ohio would therefore have the same effect as a valid judgment of paternity in this state and would therefore hypothetically be determinative under Family Code § 7636. However, while Fam. Code § 7636 provides that such a judgment would be “determinative for all purposes,” Prob. Code § 6524 simply provides that a “natural parent and child relationship” may be established pursuant to the Family Code. Moreover, despite the “full faith and credit” language of Fam. Code S 5604, case and statutory law requires the judgment of paternity to have been valid and the alleged father to have been given a reasonable opportunity to be heard. “If a valid judgment of paternity is rendered in Ohio, it generally is binding on California courts if Ohio had jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter, and the parties were given reasonable notice and an opportunity to be heard.” (Estate of Griswold (2001) 25 Cal.4th 904, 922 [emphasis added].) If the Ohio judgment was “void” then under C.C.P. § 473(d), the Court may “set aside any void judgment or order.”


Channels argues that the Court is neither bound by nor should give full, force, and credit to the Ohio default judgment, because the Ohio court lacked jurisdiction over White and that White was not sufficiently notified and given an opportunity to be heard. It has not been established that White actually received reasonable notice
and an opportunity to be heard and had a fair opportunity to litigate the issue. Even if White was present or received notice, Channels was not present, did not receive notice, and thus argues that he should not be bound by a court decision that had no foreseeable relevance to an issue of heirship in a future estate proceeding in California.

Although the Ohio court found “that service [had] been properly completed by certified mail,” for purposes of res judicata for the probate proceeding in California, actual notice cannot be presumed. A subsequently enactedOhio statute requires proof of actual service (Ohio Code section 3111.06 (B). This was a default judgment that was not contested. As White lived in Texas, and apparently ignored the judgment if he learned of its existence, he may have been indigent and seen no reason to travel to Ohio to contest its validity and to incur the further expense of retaining an attorney. Regardless of the actual blood relationship between the parties, White may have felt it unnecessary to contest such an issue, especially when the child support order might never be enforced against him.

In addition, had Channels or any other possible heirs received notice of the Ohio hearing, they may have decided that the relationship between White and Freeman was important for purposes of inheritance. This would be different than a court hearing to enforce the child support obligations against another person. Channels never had any notice or opportunity to contest the relationship of Freeman for purposes of intestate succession. This does not make the default judgment void for purposes of family support. However, applying this nebulous default judgment against a nonparty to the family support case could defeat the purpose of California’s intestate succession laws.

The question of the disposition of the remains of the decedent was litigated in the Kern County Superior Court. Kiken argues that the decision of the Kern County Court to release the remains to himself is res judicata on the issue of paternity. The issue in the remains proceeding involved the validity of the various wills submitted in the case, rather than paternity. The court’s finding was that “No sufficient probative evidence was provided to this court to refute Freeman’s claim.” This court does not find this limited ruling to constitute res judicata on the question of whether Mr. Freeman is the son of Charles White.

The recently enacted California Family Code sections refer only to DNA testing to establish a parent-child relationship, rather than establishing a grandparent-grandchild relationship. Although there is no explicit legal authority to require DNA testing with grandparents, the DNA of Mr. Freeman’s purported father, Charles Manson Jr., is not available. It is also impossible to consider evidence that either Manson as the grandparent or Charles White as the parent held out the child as that parent’s own due to the grandfather’s life imprisonment and Charles White’s death in 1993. Technically speaking, parentage of Freeman could be established by genetic DNA evidence acquired during the parent’s lifetime, as such evidence from the decedent Charles Manson most likely would have been acquired during the lifetime of Charles White. If one considers a broader definition of “parentage”, the word is defined in American College Dictionary, Third Edition, as “descent from parents; lineage”, and lineage is the precise issue in this probate case. However, this technical construction should not be required as the legislative intent to permit DNA testing to determine the identity of a parent would logically be expanded to include grandparents.


The Court is not bound by either the Ohio court’s judgment of paternity or the Kern County Court’s decision as to the disposition of the decedent’s remains. DNA testing may provide probative and relevant evidence. The motion to compel DNA testing of Jason L. Freeman is granted.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Roman Polanski Insists ‘Most Of The People Who Harass Me Do Not Know Me’ Amid Venice Film Festival Backlash


Roman Polanski talks about the controversy that still surrounds him in the candid press notes for his new film "An Officer And A Spy".

Polanski's movie is set to debut in Competition at the Venice Film Festival Friday, though many — including some jury members — have slammed its inclusion, the Guardian reports.

Despite the filmmaker not attending the festival or doing any press, he did speak to French writer Pascal Bruckner ahead of the movie's unveiling.

Polanski, who pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor after being arrested in 1977 for raping a 13-year-old girl, talks about how his latest film takes place in 1984 and follows French Captain Alfred Dreyfus as he's wrongfully convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil's Island.

Bruckner then asks the question, according to Deadline: "As a Jew who was hunted during the war and a filmmaker persecuted by the Stalinists in Poland, will you survive the present-day neo-feminist McCarthyism which, as well as chasing you all over the world and trying to prevent the screening of your films, among other vexations, got you expelled from the Oscars Academy?"

Polanski responds, "Working, making a film like this helps me a lot. In the story, I sometimes find moments I have experienced myself, I can see the same determination to deny the facts and condemn me for things I have not done. Most of the people who harass me do not know me and know nothing about the case. My work is not therapy.

"However, I must admit that I am familiar with many of the workings of the apparatus of persecution shown in the film, and that has clearly inspired me."

Polanski says his "persecution" started with the murder of his wife Sharon Tate.

"When it happened, even though I was already going through a terrible time, the press got hold of the tragedy and, unsure of how to deal with it, covered it in the most despicable way, implying, among other things, that I was one of the people responsible for her murder, against a background of satanism.

"It lasted several months, until the police finally found the real killers, Charles Manson and his ‘family'. All this still haunts me today. Anything and everything. It is like a snowball, each season adds another layer. Absurd stories by women I have never seen before in my life who accuse me of things which supposedly happened more than half a century ago."

Monday, August 26, 2019

Frank Lynn Struthers Jr.

Frank Struthers Jr. and father

Recently the blog was able to confirm that Frank Struthers, son of Rosemary LaBianca, has died.  Frank along with his half-sister Suzan and her boyfriend Joe Dorgan found his mother and step-father dead, victims of a brutal murder.  Frank was 16 years-old at the time.

Mary Neiswender reporting for the Long Beach Independent August 27, 1970 on Frank’s testimony at the trial.

Wednesday, Mrs. LaBianca’s 16-year-old son, Frank Lynn Struthers, a 10th grader at Marshall High School in Los Angeles, took the witness stand to describe how he discovered the body of his stepfather.
 “I went to Lake Isabella with some friends of the family, and my mother and stepfather came up to drop off our ski boat,” the youth related calmly.
 “They came back to pick up the boat and take it back Saturday, Aug. 9, 1969, and I intended to return with them, but the family I was staying with wanted me to stay with them an extra day.”
 The last time he saw his parents alive, he said, was when they left the recreation area with his sister, Susan, about 9 p.m. the night of the murders.
 “I left for home the next day…They (the family friends) dropped me off about 8 p.m. I noticed that the boat was still hitched to the car, but I opened the garage and put some of my gear away.
 “I went to the back door — we never used the front door — and I knocked, but nobody answered. I noticed the lights were off and the shades drawn, so I knocked on the den window and called but nobody answered.”
 The boy said he went to a nearby hamburger stand and telephoned the house, but received no answer. He then got in touch with his sister, who was living in an apartment. She arrived about 20 minutes later with a friend, Joe Dorgan, and the three went back to the house.
 “We got the keys out out of mom’s Thunderbird and opened the back door. We walked into the kitchen and turned on the lights. My sister stayed in the kitchen, and Joe and I walked through the dining room. When we got to the living room we saw Leno — my stepfather.
 “He was in a crouched position. We could tell right away…” the boy didn’t finish the sentence.
 “We turned around right away and headed out. Joe picked up the phone, but dropped it. We got in the car and went to a neighbor’s house to call police.”
 The youth, fought for composure as he identified his mother’s wallet, which police say they found in a service station rest room. Star prosecution witness Linda Kasabian testified she had placed the wallet there on instructions from Manson, who had taken it from the La Bianca home.
 Young Struthers also identified his mother’s watch and a “graduation picture of me” found in his mother’s wallet.

What a heavy load for a young boy to carry. 
Back in 1969 there were no such things as grief counselors or support groups to help someone navigate through the loss of a loved one.  There was certainly no one to speak to about losing a loved one to a brutal murder and having had discovered that murder.   A person was expected to suck it up, bury the emotion and get on with life.  It was doubly so for males. Females were given some leeway to at least cry about their loss but boys were taught not to cry back in those days, it was a sign of weakness.  There really was little in the way of an emotional outlet for grieving.
Not much is known about Frank’s life after his mother was murdered but considering his cause of death and the few things I was able to find about the last years of his life, Frank never recovered from his mother’s death and its aftermath.
Murders never consider the effect their act will have on their victim’s survivors.  They ruin more lives than the one they took.  Survivors are haunted by the images of the death, they have nightmares, they feel they should have been able to protect the victim, they feel helpless and powerless over their surroundings, they become preoccupied about their own safety and distrustful of strangers.  But perhaps the biggest emotion that they have to deal with is guilt.
I imagine Frank played over in his mind thousands of times a scenario where he came home with his mother and Leno instead of staying at the lake for another day of water skiing and hanging out with his friends.  Maybe he could have prevented the murders or at least gotten help right away.  Maybe they wouldn’t have died if he had been there.  Or conversely, maybe he would have been killed, too, and he wouldn’t have had to deal with the emotions he was feeling.
For Frank, his mother’s murder was never ending.  He was reminded of it over and over again.  Not a year has gone by since the murders that there hasn’t been a movie or a book or a television program or a news report or a new website about it.   
Frank’s death certificate, which I’m not going to post, states that he died at 63 years of age on June 16 2017.  He was never married and he had worked in the restaurant business for 20 years.  He lived in Placentia CA for the last 10 years.
Frank died at Placentia Linda Hospital.  The cause of death was 1. Acute respiratory failure (days) 2. Sepsis (days) 3.  Alcohol related liver cirrhosis (years)
He was cremated and his ashes were scattered off the coast of Orange County.
The informant for personal information on the death certificate was given by a cousin who lives back east.  A family tree at Ancestry gave his date of death but it got the year wrong.  It also shows that Frank had another half-sister besides Suzan.  The other, much older, half-sister had the same father as Frank.  She passed in 2013.

Rest in peace, Frank.