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.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

L.A. in the Time of Charles Manson

Monday, August 12, 2019

Leave Something Witchy

Leave Something Witchy is a true crime graphic novel by writer/artist Randolph Gentile.

Clocking in at 219 pages the graphic novel covers the formation of the Family through the murders and their eventual capture in late 1969.

The book explores the backgrounds of the major players in the family from their youth to their joining the group at Spahn Ranch. It also tells the story of the Lottsapoppa affair, the Hinman murder, the death of Shorty Shea, and of course, the Tate/LaBianca slayings.

It explores the Helter Skelter scenario as well as evidence that the murders that took place a half a century ago were copycat killings designed to free Bobby Beausoleil from prison.

Gentile, a former Marvel Comics artist and designer, spent almost 7 years researching, writing and drawing the project, speaking to Manson biographers and people close to Manson before his death.

He’s crowdfunding the project through Kickstarter offering the book both digitally and in paperback format.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Revisiting Fillipo Tenerelli

Part one     Part two

Another Manson murder? Debra Tate, victim's sister, fights to reopen probe into 1969 suspicious death

Hollie McKay/Fox News                                                                            Original Article

Fifty years after her tragic murder at the hands of Charles Manson’s cult followers, actress Sharon Tate is in the limelight again – her innocent and playful persona embodied by Margot Robbie in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

But also five decades on, one California family is still grappling with the notion that one beloved member was possibly slain by followers of the satanic hippie “family,” yet it was swept under the rug.

His name was Filippo Tenerelli.

“It is absolutely frustrating, there is no doubt in my mind that Filippo was murdered. The evidence is undeniable and facts are facts,” Debra Tate, 66, the younger sister of the late Sharon, told Fox News. “This absolutely warrants another look.”

It was Tate who, in 2007, reached out to the Bishop Police Department in California’s Eastern Sierra and urged them to re-open the case, which they did at the beginning of 2008.

“It was a meager attempt for me to try to do the right thing and have them take a second look. Instead my plea was met with more cover-ups and sweeping it under the rug," Tate claimed. "This still warrants being looked into properly at the very least. This has amounted to extreme pain for Filippo’s family. I don’t know how these people can live with themselves.”

Author and investigator Tom O’Neill has shed uncomfortable light on the Tenerelli case in a chapter of his new book “Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties” – a 550-page profound dive, 20 years in the making, into the plethora of inconsistencies and glaring holes punctuating the formal Manson narratives to date.

As the story goes, in late September of 1969, 23-year-old Italian immigrant Tenerelli left the family home in Culver City, Los Angeles in his '69 blue Volkswagen Beetle, bound for Death Valley National Park. The official theory at the time was that he intended to kill himself at an outlook, but his vehicle got wedged on boulders and in frustration he tipped it off the cliff. Then, he supposedly trudged down the rugged 400-feet terrain to retrieve his belongings, and somehow over the next couple of days wound up 100 miles away in Bishop, a city of 3,000 in California’s Inyo County, where he checked into the local Sportsman Lodge motel as “John Doe” before heading out to buy a shotgun.

The next morning, October 1, a maid tried to enter the room, which was barricaded from the inside. The son of motel owner Bea Greer pushed it in and found a body with a shotgun blast to the front of the head – having allegedly pulled the trigger with his toe. His pubic hair was shaved and a copy of “Playboy” between his legs.

The “suicide victim” was identified as the missing Culver City man a month later.

“But the case was soon pushed from the local papers by an even wilder story: in a remote area of Death Valley, a band of nomadic hippies had been arrested for destroying government property and operating an auto-theft ring,” O’Neill wrote. “In the coming weeks, they’d be charged with the grisly murders of Sharon Tate and seven others in Los Angeles.”

In addition to taking over the infamous Spahn Ranch outside of Los Angeles, Manson and his vicious band also spread themselves more than 200 miles east to the primitive Barker Ranch, inside Death Valley National Park.

A 1970 Rolling stone article detailing the grim Manson murder trail makes mention of Tenerelli’s suspicious “suicide,” and how some authorities were “not so sure” that was indeed the cause of death. But any internal investigations, O’Neill’s book shows, seemingly dissolved.

“The story got even murkier when I tracked down the original Bishop Police Department investigative report, which suggested a far more sinister ending and a cover-up of that,” O’Neill wrote, highlighting that his efforts since 2007 to pinpoint that ending have been dismissed and denied by an array of authorities.

He pointed out that, in spite of the bureaucratic account that the windows of the room would have been too small for a person to climb out of, he tracked down the relocated property at a nearby ranch and argued that even two people could fit through, which was backed up by the now 81-year-old motel owner.

Greer, according to O’Neill, also claimed that she would never have checked someone in without ID and gave registration records to police at the time – but the authorities’ “refused to believe that the victim had shown an ID or even a wallet.”

Although the customer always fills out their own form, Tenerelli’s name was allegedly spelled wrong – with his sister later affirming that it wasn’t his handwriting – O’Neill observed, with another red flag raised by the claim that the person who checked in under the name allegedly had no accent and paid a month in advance “to ensure that the body wouldn’t be discovered right away.”

O’Neill further points out that the police reports “contained no photographs of the crime scene and made no mention of forensics” even though they were commonplace in 1969, and the autopsy showed at the time of death, the body's blood alcohol was .03 percent – not even qualifying as under the influence – but a bottle of whiskey was found in the trash by his body and a second bottle only half full.

“If Tenerelli didn’t drink all that whiskey, who did?” O’Neill speculated.

A trove of further questions have also been unearthed – including allegations that a Culver City hospital radiologist had determined that the “John Doe's” x-rays were “similar or identical” to a patient – Tenerelli – who had been brought in after a motorcycle accident five years earlier, weeks before a formal police identification.

Moreover, O’Neill asserts that the surgeon who conducted the autopsy told him that he never believed it was a suicide and called it that “under pressure” while California Highway Patrol officers who found the abandoned car on October 5 believed it could not have been there for more than two days – but the body was found on October 1.

Inside the vehicle, O’Neill writes, were other items indicating that the driver “might not have been alone in the car” such as a Brentwood Hospital laundry sheet, where Tenerelli had not been known to visit, and a Santa Monica bus schedule which “he wouldn’t have needed because he owned a car and a motorcycle.”

Deepening the deluge of questions, two hunters allegedly spotted someone “coming up from the wreck” of the car and there was a copious amount of blood – implying far more wounds than those believed to have been on the man when he showed up at the motel.

Meanwhile, the hippie car thieves had been taken into custody around October 1 – earlier, highway patrolmen were reported to have pulled over a “late model” blue Volkswagen a day prior to Tenerelli’s death, with three “hippie types” in the car, the patrolman later linking at least one member to a Manson follower. Both officers, O’Neill reported, also refuted the suicide avowal and instead surmised that the car was possibly dumped after the death.

Furthermore, there was the issue of the shaved pubic hair.

The Manson Family’s Bill Vance had a ‘magic vest’ he liked to wear that was ‘made of pubic hair,’ per a report from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, O’Neill underscored.

“I can only speculate as to what happened in Bishop (with the police) in 1969,” O’Neill told Fox News, indicating that perhaps they did not want their town linked to the Manson family or that some may have had teen relatives loosely connected to the family, or maybe it was simple incompetence or just that it was far easier to declare a suicide than a homicide.

Manson members were subsequently arrested in separate raids across California on October 10 and 12.

A spokesperson for the Bishop Police Department declined to comment on O’Neill’s book or whether any further action will be taken to investigate the Tenerelli case, other than to say that the information brought forward was “interesting” but that everyone initially involved was no longer there.

Cosimo Giovine, the southern California-based nephew of Tenerelli and the representative for the family, told Fox News that as deeply Catholic Italians, the suicide ruling had left a tremendous black scar on the family.

“Our family felt very ashamed, and couldn’t go back to Italy. My grandmother, even in her 90’s, always said she knew Filippo didn’t commit suicide,” he said. “But there is so much misinformation out there; we just want to know the truth.”

The Bishop Police Department confirmed to Fox News that the case, which was re-opened more than eleven years ago, has since been closed once again.

A letter viewed by Fox News from Inyo County District Attorney Thomas Hardy in May, 2016 to Giovine – who had submitted to his office a plethora of documents and testimonies gathered by O’Neill – stated that there was “simply not much” that they could do after 46 years and that “there is nothing in the material provided that suggests that there was any culpability on the part of the Department which would justify a criminal investigation” by the DA’s office.

Hardy did acknowledge that while “Mr. O’Neill’s work raises questions, it doesn’t point toward any answers that could hold up in court” and a new investigation could not be justified at that point.

Giovine then attempted in November 2016 to obtain copies from the Los Angeles Police Department of the tape recordings and transcripts of the conversation between Bill Boyd and Charles “Tex” Watson along with “confirmation or denial that the name Filippo Tenerelli is mentioned in the tapes” – but to no avail, with the tapes in question still under seal. The tapes contain the first recorded account of how and why the murders took place, and unconfirmed claims have been made that Tenerelli’s name is raised by Watson. At 73, he remains behind bars in Texas.

Moreover, the nephew’s efforts in 2017 for a request for an investigation by the Inyo County Grand Jury were rejected, with Foreman John Harris writing “we feel that the 48-year-old events are beyond our ability to adequately investigate and report on at this time.”

But Tenerelli’s family isn’t ready to walk away. Giovine emphasized to Fox News that his intention is not to ask for money or to file lawsuits, but to have his uncle’s death certificate changed to reflect what he believes to be the true cause-of-death: homicide.

And beyond advocating for the Tenerelli case, Debra – who has dedicated her life to serving as a spokesperson for the families of murder victims – is also still fighting relentlessly to ensure that the Manson murderers aren’t released.

She runs and individual petitions to ensure that the killers – two of who are now facing parole hearings in California – aren’t given the green light to walk the streets again.

“These people are much more prolific killers than anyone knows,” added Tate, whose emotions are still raw despite the passage of time. “There is no one else but me left in our family, the stress of what happened to my sister has killed everyone. But if she can’t live and be free again, then these killers should not be able to either.”

After the 2013 posts ran about Tenerelli I heard from a female relative of Filippo.  She explained that  Filippo's mother was devastated that the authorities found Filippo's cause of death to be suicide.  The Tenerelli family is Catholic and very staunch Catholics at that, having immigrated from Italy in June of 1959.

Catholics are taught that suicide is a mortal sin and that if a person commits suicide their soul is condemned to spend an eternity in hell.  Suicide was believed to be a mortal sin because it is an act against the will of God.  People who committed suicide were denied a Christian burial in consecrated ground.  That was the feeling of the church until 1992 when they relented somewhat and took into consideration that a person committing suicide could be suffering from mental illness and might not be able to make rational decisions.  Suicide is still a mortal sin in the eyes of the Catholic church however.

The relative went on to say that male suicide seemed to run in the Tenerelli family.  There were male suicides in previous generations and that Filippo's brother had also committed suicide.

That said, let's continue on with O'Neill's narrative.  Having not seen the police report myself it's difficult to say if what is in the report is as O'Neill relates it.  As far as the window situation goes and whether or not there was a window large enough for a person to climb out of, it's a no brainer.  The postcard of the hotel included in my 2013 post clearly shows that there were windows, large enough for even a big person to crawl out of, next to the doors entering the individual rooms.  Not  saying that this is what happened just pointing out that it should have been a non-issue.

Next is what is labeled in the article as a "hotel receipt".  That certainly does not look like a receipt, rather it looks like a page from the hotel's accounts payable ledger which would have been filled out by an employee.  Yes, the name is misspelled but so is the name in the newspaper article telling that Tenerelli had been identified and the last name is also misspelled the same way on Tenerelli's death certificate.

It looks like the $156 debt began on October 1st, after Tenerelli was found deceased, and the debt was satisfied November 3rd after Tenerelli was officially identified.  Since the debt is not itemized it's hard to say exactly what the debt was but it could have been for the amount of time the room was tied up and not available for rent during the investigation, any damages incurred and for cleaning.  To assume that 30 days rent was paid in advance is misguided, IMO.  Besides, if this was the hotel receipt, Tenerelli's name is pretty darn clear and it would not have taken a month for him to be identified.  We actually don't know for sure when Tenerelli rented the room but it was before October 1st when he was found dead.

I was able to find two of Tenerelli's signatures.  Both are from his petition for US naturalization.  If I didn't know who the papers were for I, for sure, would not have been able to decipher his handwriting. If Tenerelli filled out his hotel registration in script, it's no wonder it was illegible.

O'Neill states that there were no photographs with the police report he saw but there was a diagram of the hotel room, drawn by the coroner, according to the caption, showing where Tenerelli was found and the rearrangement of some of the things in the room.  It is pictured in his book and it tells us a lot.

First off, the diagram does not show where the front window was which might be why there was some discussion of that.  What it does show is what was in the room itself.  O'Neill claims that there was a Playboy magazine found between Tenerelli's legs.  The diagram shows that the magazine was found on the nightstand which was on the opposite side of the bed from where Tenerelli was found.

The diagram is difficult to read so I will go around the room clockwise starting from the Playboy magazine.  On the bed is the "box for cleaning kit", the "entrance door", a "chair" (which looks as if it had been shoved against the door knob, making the door hard to open), "dresser", "rag and bandage", "bathroom", in the bathroom "waste basket, empty bottle", on what appears to be a vanity where a woman could sit down, with the chair found by the front door, and do her make-up it reads, "1-2-3= paper bag, partly empty bottle", "Cleaning kit", "chest drawers taken from here".  A "gun case" was found in the "closet".  The doors to the bathroom and closet are also marked.

Then we get to the heart of the matter.  Two "large chairs" were placed back to back between the bed and closet wall with "large chair cushions", on end, up against the front of the second chair.  Tenerelli's head was up against the cushions.  His right foot appears to be touching the bathroom door with the butt of the shotgun wedged between the door and door jamb.  There seems to be two rectangles between Tenerelli's feet, I don't know what they represent as they are not labeled.  Perhaps they are the drawers taken from the vanity.

Unfortunately, no blood is depicted in the drawing but if there was any blood other than right where Tenerelli died I would hope that it would have been shown.  The positioning of the body looks like something one would do if they were going to commit suicide, to me.  They would have the large chairs behind them to keep from sliding back after the shotgun was wedged in the door jamb with leverage to pull the trigger.  It looks like a took a little knowledge of physics to accomplish the set-up. Tenerelli was a tool and die maker.

Would a murderer, specifically members of the Manson Family, be able to think far enough ahead to come up with placing Tenerelli in that position to kill him?  Wouldn't Tenerelli have tried to fight off his attackers and not allow himself to be killed right where he was found?  I don't think that his body was arranged after death.

The one thing that bothers me is that none of Tenerelli's personal belongings are shown in the diagram.  They could have been there but were not considered germane to the death so not noted but that seems a little lackadaisical, to me.

I feel terrible for the Tenerelli family.  Suicide is a big deal in the Catholic religion and can certainly understand why they would want to get the cause of death changed.

I can't let this post end without mention of the alleged pubic hair vest that Bill Vance supposedly wore.  Seriously?  A pubic hair vest, how would one go about constructing such a thing?  Have any of you ever heard of this vest?  And, O'Neill weaving it into the Tenerelli story..... He says that Tenerelli's pubic hair was shaved off.  Is the vest comprised of Tenerelli's hairs?  Is he implying that there was a vest made of murder victims pubic hairs?  It would take more than one person's pubes to come up with a whole vest if you managed to figure out how to do it.

I do recall that the girls on the courthouse corner after shaving their heads incorporated some of that hair into their embroidery but that was well after Tenerelli's death.


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Manson Victim's Friend Posits Alternative Motive: "I Never Bought Into the Race War Theory"

Six months after the infamous murders, Jim Markham — a hairstylist turned mogul whose clients included Paul Newman and Steve  McQueen and was a protege to victim Jay Sebring — hosted a federal sting to uncover the cult leader’s motive.

Jim Markham remembers vividly the days following the grisly Manson murders of Roman Polanski's pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, her former boyfriend and hairstylist Jay Sebring and three others at the director's Benedict Canyon residence in August 1969. At the time, Markham was Sebring's protege and business partner in a budding franchise of men's hair salons that stretched from a star-packed outpost on the corner of L.A.'s Melrose and Fairfax to Miami. Sebring became the second person to die at the hands of the Manson Family members during an infamous killing spree that claimed seven lives, including coffee heiress Abigail Folger and her lover, Polish screenwriter Wojciech Frykowski.

Markham, then 25 and splitting his time between his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and L.A., was the heir apparent to Sebring's 400-plus clientele, which included Paul Newman, Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen. Markham heard the news on the radio and got on the phone with Sebring International president John Madden. "Jay and I had talked many times … that I'd be his successor if anything ever happened to him," Markham recalls. "I just took right over out of necessity."

The hair-care mogul sipped a Perrier on the deck of the Majestic Hotel in Cannes when he met with The Hollywood Reporter, a day after the world premiere of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — Quentin Tarantino's spin on the events surrounding the Charles Manson-directed murders. (In the movie, Sebring is a key character played by Emile Hirsch.) By Markham's side was his wife of 32 years, Cheryl — the daughter of Dan Genis, special effects guru behind Star Wars — who came of age during the Manson era.

Revisiting the weeks that followed the killings is both painful and cathartic for Markham, now 75 and fabulously wealthy thanks to founding four hair-care companies, including Pureology Serious Colour Care, which he sold to L'Oréal in 2007 for $280 million. (He pocketed more than $100 million on that deal alone.) Markham has never talked in detail about his entanglement in the infamous investigation that captured headlines worldwide and continues to fascinate new generations. His tale reveals his previously unknown role in the critical months after the murders, as law enforcement attempted to identify the killers and decipher their motives with no break in the case.

Markham was Paul Newman's
longtime haircutter.

Charles Manson, arrested in 1969.

Days after the murders, and at the behest of Sebring's father, Markham began living at the house where he had been a frequent guest: Sebring's Bavarian-style home, once owned by Jean Harlow and located on Easton Drive in Beverly Hills — just one mile away from the Polanski-Tate residence on Cielo Drive. "I'm living in Jay's house with raccoons on the roof — it would sound like somebody walking on the top of the house," he says. "I finally had to move out. I thought I was going to be next. They hadn't caught Manson. Nobody knew why it happened."

As Markham remembers, Tate's father, a colonel in Army intelligence, began working with federal agents on the investigation. The agents told Markham that they believed the killers were connected to the salon (murder victim Folger also had a connection to the hair enterprise given that she was an investor in Sebring International). The salon was bugged, but ultimately that line of inquiry lost steam. Once the Manson Family became suspects, however, about six months after the murders, the feds enlisted a willing Markham to set up a sting at his rented Brentwood home. He was to host a meeting between a woman and a man she had met at a bar, someone who had recounted to her at length how he had met Manson in jail. The former inmate was thought to have information pertaining to the cult leader's motive for the murders. But Markham doesn't believe any of the taped conversation from the sting was used in the trial that took place in 1970 and 1971. "This guy looked spooked, really scared," he says of the meeting.

Five decades later, Markham floats his own theory, one that deviates from the official "Helter Skelter" scenario put forth by Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi: that the cult leader ordered the Tate murders in hopes that it would spark an apocalyptic race war as foretold to him in what he believed were coded lyrics on The Beatles' White Album.

Though Markham is reluctant to denigrate the memory of Sebring, who was his mentor and after whom he named his son, he claims that the late hairdresser knew Manson and suggests that the murders were the result of a drug deal gone bad — an account that aligns with a once-popular explanation that fell out of favor as the Helter Skelter narrative became dominant. Back in 1969, Sebring was nicknamed The Candyman and was said to have used his salon to peddle drugs to the stars.

"I don't want to get into the drugs, but I never bought into the race war theory. I believe Manson had gone up to the house" — Polanski was away shooting a movie — "and Manson wanted to sell cocaine and marijuana," he says. "He showed Jay and Wojciech the product. They were going to buy some of it, but the two of them beat him up at the gate. The next night, Manson sent the Family up [to kill them]." Markham adds, "I've lived with that for 50 years. I still believe that." He declines to elaborate further given that he is still in touch with Sebring's nephew Anthony DiMaria, who is planning a movie about the murders.

In Once Upon a Time, Manson appears before the killings at the Cielo Drive house. The film implies that Manson was looking for record producer Terry Melcher, the son of Doris Day, who with girlfriend Candice Bergen had moved out before the murders. (In real life, Manson, an aspiring musician, was introduced to Melcher, who declined to sign him, by The Beach Boys' Dennis Wilson.)

Once Upon a Time offers a revisionist history of the murders and introduces fictitious characters into the blood-soaked narrative, namely Leonardo DiCaprio's actor Rick Dalton and Brad Pitt's stunt double Cliff Booth. Margot Robbie plays Tate, while Polanski has a bit part, played by Rafal Zawierucha. Markham mostly approves of the film, but he bristles at the depiction of Sebring. "I thought Jay was marginalized, and that upset me," he says. "They portrayed him as this sort of houseboy. This was a very powerful man at the time."

Leonardo DiCaprio (left) and Brad Pitt
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Peter Lawford (right) jokingly
cut Markham's hair circa the '70s.

In the years after the Manson murders, Markham forged his own path — one that diverged from his humble beginnings of charging $5 a haircut in Albuquerque. After winning the silver medal in the Hair Olympics, he had flown to Los Angeles in 1966 to learn Sebring's method of cutting and styling. (At the time, the celebrity hairstylist was romantically involved with Tate and living with her.) Markham describes Tate as a "really sweet lady," but says he never saw the actress with Polanski. "She was always without him," Markham says. "She seemed to like Jay a lot. They were always kissing. Lovey-dovey."

Markham continued to intersect with the Tate family while the Manson investigation played out. "When I took over the salon, Sharon's mother, Gwen, treated me like a son," he says. Markham dated Sharon's younger sister, Debra, who consulted on Tarantino's movie. "She looked just like Sharon. They were a real nice family."

In 1972, he founded Markham Products with backing from actor Peter Lawford, all the while cutting and styling for the likes of Newman ("my first, my favorite"), Robert Redford, Johnny Carson, Paul Anka, Joanne Woodward and Jacqueline Bisset. Newman was particularly loyal, allowing Markham to hang a framed letter in the salon in 1971: "He wrote, 'Dear Jim, just a note to let you know that I'm a Sebring fan and you're still running a first-class operation.' " Markham also taught a young Jon Peters the Sebring method. The hairdresser turned A Star Is Born producer took one of his classes in the early '70s.

While doing a house call at Denis' Modern Film Effects, a postproduction house that worked on Raiders of the Lost Ark and Apocalypse Now, Markham met Cheryl, then a receptionist. They married in 1982 and began running the businesses together. After selling Markham Products in 1989, Markham launched ABBA Pure and Natural Hair Care, one of the first vegan lines in the U.S., then sold it in 1997 for $20 million. With Pureology, a line created in 2001, Markham made his biggest contribution by developing the now-ubiquitous sulfate- and carcinogen-free shampoo. "The concept for Pureology started from a phone call," says Cheryl. "My best girlfriend said, 'I got diagnosed with ovarian cancer. My doctor gave me a list of don't-use ingredients. You've got to make me things that I can use.' " In 2011, Markham founded his final company, ColorProof Evolved Color Care. Perhaps in a nod to Once Upon a Time, salons that stock the ColorProof product line are being offered classes on the scissor-over-comb technique pioneered by Sebring and perfected by Markham.

Although he provided original hair salon items to Once Upon a Time's props department, Markham's input was otherwise limited. His offer to cut the hair of Damian Lewis, who plays former client and Sebring International investor McQueen, was rebuffed because Tarantino already had hired a hair team. "It looked like it was an '80s look," he says of Lewis' cut. "But otherwise, Damian looked and acted exactly like Steve McQueen."

Except for a handful of longtime, non-celebrity clients, Markham rarely cuts hair these days. Looking back to before the Manson murders, he waxes nostalgic. "It was the time of my life," he says. "But then it was really awful. The whole city was terrorized. It went from being loosey-goosey to very guarded overnight. They brought about a whole new era."

Markham (right) with celebrity
hairstylist Vidal Sassoon in 1968.

Jay Sebring Salons were located in West Hollywood,
New York and London, among other cities.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Not a review for "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"

This is not a review for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.  I didn't see the movie.  While my small town (population 452) has a movie theater we never get movies on opening day.  It might be a few weeks before I get to see it.  Frankly, I am rather exhausted by all the hype that has gone on for months.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was never intended to chronicle the so called Manson murders.  Instead  its intent was to capture a narrow time in the past, 1969, a nostalgia piece harking back to the Hollywood back lots of that time, so any comparison to the actual murders is moot.  The biggest draw for this movie is the fact that Quentin Tarantino conceived and directed it.

Despite all of the publicity which featured the casting info, ad nauseam, for Family members and victims if you go to this movie thinking it's a "Manson" movie, you are going to be sorely disappointed.  All that aside, just how well was it received and more important to Tarantino, what are the box office stats?

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has turned out to be Tarantino's all-time biggest opening of any of his films.  In it's first three days, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, it grossed $41.3M and came in second for the week behind Disney's The Lion King, $76.M in its second week.

Exit polls, I guess exit polls are not limited to politics, who knew, say that 47% of people went to see the movie because of the director and 37% went to see it for the cast.  Both percentages are much higher than the norm of 7% and 18%, respectively.  It's good to be Quentin Tarantino.

Reviews of the movie have averaged out to lukewarm.

Frankly, I find the entire experience baffling, and any attempt to laugh off the Manson murders as sitcom fodder embarrassing.  Rex Reed

Though Tarantino mixes fiction and historical fact cleverly and confidently, I'm not sure what he wanted to achieve with the mix this time, and I'm not sure if he knew either. Ben Sachs

For those well-versed in the writer-director's work, it's a credible and intriguing addition to his filmography. Yet at 2 hours and 41 minutes, it also feels too leisurely in connecting its threads. Brian Lowry

As one might expect from Mr. Tarantino's previous films, his new one is violent as well as tender, plus terrifically funny. Yet this virtuoso piece of storytelling also offers intricate instruction on the pervasiveness of violence in popular culture.  Joe Morganstern

Meandering but deliberate, gorgeous and garrulous, it is very much the writer-director doing what he does so well, but in very familiar fashion. Which brings up the possibility that in making a movie about movie making, his real subject here is himself. Matthew Lickona

In-depth, character-driven, ultra-violent, over-long, and near-perfect... all the movie sins Tarantino has been criticized for over the years coming to a head in the most wondrous and cheer-worthy payoff any film fan could want. Kevin A Ranson

Shallow, meandering and tedious with only sporadic jolts of guilty pleasure fun and wit. Star power and charisma are not enough to keep the film afloat. Did its editor fall asleep in the editing room? Avi Offer

So, what say you, our readers?  Did you like it?

Monday, July 22, 2019

What Linda Kasabian Read

Linda Kasabian was a very good witness. Before every trial I tell my witnesses several things: tell the truth, treat the judge like Christ, don’t argue with opposing counsel, and answer only the question you are asked. Listen to the question and answer only that. After I do that I pick some recent event like a football game and say to the client something like ‘Hey, did you see that catch last night?’ Invariably they will respond ‘Wasn’t that an amazing catch?’ I will then respond ‘That’s not what I asked you.’ And to her credit, Kasabian is a very, very good witness in this regard. 

Here is what she said under the less than scintillating cross examination of Daye Shinn. 

Remember, most of what Kasabian read or saw before December 5, 1969 is irrelevant. Until Susan Atkins testifies before the Grand Jury almost everything she read was, factually inaccurate, and not likely to have had any impact on her testimony. 

If we assume Kasabian was either coached or picked up her story from the official narrative that narrative does not exist until Susan Atkins testifies before the Grand Jury or her story makes it into the press. We can quibble on when Atkins told Bugliosi her tale but as a practical matter until that story comes to light there is very little to fill in those missing memory jigsaw pieces.

Q (Shinn): Now, before you talked to anyone about this, did you read about these two events in the newspaper?
A (Kasabian): No, I don’t think so.
Q: You did not read about it in the newspapers, in New Mexico or Miami or Boston?
A: Oh, yeah, when I was in Miami I saw something about Sharon Tate.
Q: Did you read it?
A: Yes, I think I did.
Q: Were there any pictures in the newspaper?
A: Yes.
Q: Did you look at the pictures very closely?
A: It was just a picture of Sharon Tate when she was pregnant.
Q: Did it show pictures of the house?
A: No, just Miss Tate.
Q: Did you see this on TV?
A: No.
Q: Did you not see these events on television?
A: When I was at the ranch?
Q: At any time.
A: When I was at the ranch I did, yes.
Q: And what did you observe on TV as to the Tate incident?
A: Just their names and faces.
Q: Did it show the house?
A: It probably did, yes.
Q: Now, do you recall what part of the house they showed?
A: No.
Q: Is that the only time you saw it on television?
A: Yes.
Q: And you did not see it on television any other place?
A: No, no.
Q: How about magazines, did you read about this in magazines?
A: Yes, just before I turned myself in.
Q: What magazine was that?
A: Life or Look,
Q: Is that the edition where it had Charlie’s picture on the front?
A: No, it was just a small article and it had a small picture of Miss Tate.
All I remember is that they thought it had something to do with homosexual killing, or something.
Q: And is it your testimony that is all the news you read about?
A: Yes.
Q: About these two incidents?
A: Yes.
Q: only the two items?
A: Yeah.
Q: Are you sure or you don’t remember?
A: I think I’m pretty sure, yes. 

(Testimony of Linda Kasabian,

We thus have three occasions where Kasabian admits seeing something about this crime.

1.    The TV the day following the Tate murders.
2.    Something she read in Life or Look magazine that had a small image of Sharon Tate and discussed a ‘homosexual’ angle to the case shortly before she turned herself in.
3.    Something she read in Miami Florida that had an image of a pregnant Sharon Tate.  

[Aside: There is a fourth media exposure identified by her mother when her mother showed her the headline of a newspaper that indicated she was being sought by the authorities after her indictment. Kasabian in that same article responded that she had heard the news on the radio. Mother Tells How Linda Kasabian Changed, San Antonio Express, August 30, 1970.) 

TV The Morning After

We know the killers and others watched the news the morning following the Cielo Drive murders. We don’ know which channel or what they watched. At that point no one reported anything of substance about the crime so it is highly unlikely that would have had any significant impact on her later testimony.

Life or Look Magazine Before She Turned Herself In

The article she describes appeared in Life Magazine, November 7, 1969. It is set forth below. There is nothing in the article that could have influenced her testimony because, again, the ‘facts’ discussed in the piece predate the Grand Jury and are inaccurate. There is only one image and as she testified that is a very small image of Sharon Tate. 

Something She Read in Miami

Although the exact dates that Kasabian was in Miami are unclear, she was there sometime after the murders and arrived in New Hampshire (via Boston) before December 1, 1969. 

In an effort to find this article I scoured every newspaper archive I could access from Key West to Tallahassee. This included both the Miami Herald and the Miami News. I looked at every article that mentioned Sharon Tate or any search term I could think up related to Sharon Tate or the murders. I did not find any image of a pregnant Sharon Tate. 

I then shifted to New Mexico and finally California. I chose the former thinking she got the location wrong and the later because it has the most articles and any UPI/AP article that I might have been unable to access in Florida I thought would likely show up in California. My search ran from August 8, 1969 until December 5, 1969. These dates, obviously predate the murders and extend past Kasabian’s stay in Florida. 

I found nothing. Now, that does not mean I didn’t miss something and if someone knows about this article I’ll add it. But my search revealed no images of a pregnant Sharon Tate in any newspaper. 

The contemporary images of a pregnant Sharon Tate originate from two sources. One is the film in the camera found at Cielo Drive and taken a few days before the crime (left). The other images, such as the two to the right, were taken by Terry O’Neill in England in early July 1969 shortly before she returned to the United States, arriving in Los Angeles on July 20th. Some sources claim they were taken “days before the murders” or on “August 6, 1969”. That, of course, is nonsense.  

Then I reread Ms. Kasabian’s testimony. Notice Shinn never directly asks her where she saw the image. He should have asked that. This entire line of questioning exists because Shinn has some vague understanding that her testimony could have been influenced by outside sources. Actually, that’s giving him too much credit. What he was trying to create was the impression that Kasabian had read the story of the crimes in the press and made up her testimony. He would have been better served
following the ‘false memory’ chain. 

Q: You did not read about it in the newspapers, in New Mexico or Miami or Boston?
A: Oh, yeah, when I was in Miami I saw something about Sharon Tate.
Q: Did you read it?
A: Yes, I think I did.
Q: Were there any pictures in the newspaper?
A: Yes.
Q: Did you look at the pictures very closely?
A: It was just a picture of Sharon Tate when she was pregnant.


Notice that Shinn assumes it was in a newspaper. All Kasabian does is indicate she saw “something”. Kasabian previously indicated that she had not read the newspapers. But she does say she saw something. said it wasn’t. 

Q: Shinn: Now, before you talked to anyone about this, did you read about these two events in the newspaper?
A: No, I don’t think so. 


I don’t believe it was in the newspaper, in part, because I couldn’t find it and in part because it doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t think Terry O’Neill would have turned his photographs over to the daily press. In fact, this is the most frequently appearing image of Sharon Tate at the time which I think tells us something about the press. But he did turn them over to others and that is where I believe Ms. Kasabian saw the image. 

I found two possible sources. Both contain an image of a pregnant Sharon Tate. 

Kasabian previously indicated that she had not read the newspapers. Well, she at least pulls the dodge of saying ‘I don’t think so’. And, to her credit, what she read wasn’t in the newspaper. Shinn is the one who places it there. Kasabian doesn’t do that. 



[Aside: As to the Screenland article since I could not find a complete or readable image of the article. It is set forth in full at the bottom of this post.]

I don’t think Kasabian would have read Screenland, even if she could find it in Miami. But, since she read Life I believe it is likely the Polanski returns to Cielo article is what she saw. After all, she read the other article in Life. The Polanski returns article was joined by Life’s coverage of Woodstock and that may have triggered her interest. 

I believe Kasabian is referring to this Life magazine article about Polanski. But I also don’t think she lied when she said it showed no images of the house. I am aware it does show images of the house.  I believe the only memory of the article that she held onto was the image of a pregnant Sharon Tate, which may have stayed with her because of the shock of realizing/seeing who she actually helped to murder. 

Notice, unlike the other Life article she doesn’t mention the content. Remember she too was pregnant. Given what she had experienced all of that is consistent with how eyewitness memory works. But, if I am right, it does make her testimony, inaccurate on this fine point. 

Another problem with her testimony on this issue is another Shinn problem. Notice he doesn’t set any timeframe. He never bothers to specifically ask her the simple question if she read anything after December 5, 1969 and like a good witness she doesn’t offer anything. 

Pax Vobiscum


Screenland - November 1969 Interview with Sheliah Wells by Marcia Borie

Sharon Tate

"She Was So Generous, So Trusting, She Never Shut Her Door To Anyone."They tell you that Sharon Tate was involved in a sex cult. Or a drug cult. Maybe it was the hippies. Or maybe it was witchcraft. Whatever-the Sharon Tate of the headlines is a little bit lurid and very far out.

But somewhere there was a real Sharon Tate. What happened to her during her years in Hollywood? Why had she ended tragically, so grotesquely? What was Sharon Tate really like? We turned to her closest girlfriend, actress Sheliah Wells, for the answers.

We think this exclusive interview is the truest, most loving thing you'll ever read about Sharon Tate."Sharon Tate was my best friend. Once, we were roommates. She introduced me to my husband. She was the godmother to my baby daughter who is named for her.

"In the six years time that I knew her, she never said an unkind word about anyone. In all the thousands of words that have been printed about her since her death, none really told about my friend - about the Sharon Tate I knew.

We were introduced six years ago by a man who was my agent as well as hers, Hal Gefsky. We got along so well that the first week we met we decided to try and find an apartment together. And that's how it all started - our friendship.

The place we shared was a nice one-bedroom apartment on Clark Drive. It was tastefully decorated in early actress. And there were all these people always dropping in. Sharon really loved being hospitable.

From the beginning, my friends used to tease me. 'How can you wake up in the morning and look at that face of hers?' It was a good question. Sharon was so over overwhelmingly, so incredibly beautiful that anyone not knowing her might think it took a lot to live with such a beauty. But you see that was another thing about Sharon. With all her beauty, everyone loved her. I never heard anyone say a bad word about her, not even another actress. And in this town that's not only a rarity, it's an impossibility!

I think the greatest thing I could say about Sharon was that she was for real. I mean really for real. Like I said, I haven't heard any stories or news reports that tell about Sharon the way she really was. Even I, who loved her, find it hard to say what I mean so that she doesn't come out sounding all spun sugary. Sharon was the type of a girl who had no defenses, no pretenses, she was just herself all the time. Like if a friend said, 'Hey, that brand of toothpaste you're using is no good. It hurts the enamel.' Most people would answer back, 'Well, maybe you think so, but my dentist recommended it, so there.' You know, on the defensive. But if you said the same thing to Sharon, she'd say, 'Oh really? No kidding? Gee, bad for the enamel? Then I guess I'd better change brands.' It was this incredible talent of hers for believing everybody, for being so easily persuaded, that may have eventually done her more harm than good.

She was so trusting, so eager to accept people as they were, so generous. Why, there were times, this past year or so, when a whole bunch of people would be at her house and she'd come up to me and say, 'Hey, I wonder who so and so is.' Just like it wasn't her house and she wasn't entitled to know. Sharon never shut her door to anyone.

Anyway, we shared an apartment for a year. Then Sharon left. For a while she dated Jay Sebring and then she went off to Europe to make a film. She met Roman over there.

You know something funny. I've never seen Sharon on film. I know that sounds strange but I just never did, even as close as we were - or perhaps because we were so close. It's like if a friend said to you, 'I did something yesterday and it wasn't very good, so don't tell.' If you were a close friend, you wouldn't. Well, that's how Sharon felt about her movies. Always she'd tell me, 'Oh, Sheliah, the movie I just made was so awful, don't bother going to see it.' And because I had such love and respect for our friendship, I never did.

As far as Sharon and her relationships with people, she always had a way of finding such goodness in others. If someone hurt her, she'd say, "Oh, Sheliah, I'm sure they didn't mean to.' She'd always make excuses for others. Sharon was just totally loving and also totally vulnerable. She was just a remarkable person, she never gave up on anybody.

Sharon used to say that Wende Wagner and I were her two closest friends. Wende is married to Jim Mitchum. She's a darling girl. Both of us, I think, represented a kind of security and stability that Sharon never seemed to find. We were her touch with the real world. Both Wende and I make up our minds to do a thing and then go ahead and do it. But Sharon was always so easily persuaded, so vulnerable. I keep using that word but it's one that fits her so well. Vulnerable.

There's one thing some people have wondered about. Whether or not the baby could have been saved if the police had come in time. I don't know about that, but all I can tell you is that Sharon wanted that baby more than anything else in the world. That baby belonged to her. Now he will always be with her. They will have a headstone together. It will say: Sharon Tate Polanski and Baby Son Paul Richard Polanski. Yes, they gave the baby a name. He was named Paul for Sharon's father, and Richard for Roman's father.

As far as Sharon's marriage was concerned, all I can tell you is that Sharon and Roman were in love. They were a combination of beauty and genius. She tried so hard to please him.

You know it's funny, but all the time we were roommates, Sharon and I never went out on a double date. Sharon liked one kind of boy, I liked another. In fact, all the time we shared an apartment Sharon never tried to fix me up on a date. Then one day, after she'd moved out, I was really surprised when she called and wanted to introduce me to someone. She had been working on a film called 'Don't Make Waves' with Robert Webber. They'd had lunch together with an actor friend, Fred Beir. Suddenly Robert and Sharon decided that Fred and I would be perfect for each other. Fred and I fell in love on our first date. We were married in January, 1967. Sharon and Roman were married a year later, in January, 1968. My baby, Amanda Tate, was born March 16, 1969. And five weeks later, Fred and I started to have serious problems.

Although Sharon was in Europe at the time, she heard about Freddie and me. So when she came home, just three weeks before she died, Sharon called Freddie and invited him to come up to her house. He went over and she talked to him. That was Sharon. She was always going out on a limb for everyone. Everyone but herself.

There was an ethereal quality about her. She had this thing I sometimes wished I'd had, even though I knew that eventually it might be bad for me. Do you understand? She had this kind of beauty and fragility, and you just knew she was bound to get hurt because of it. But still you couldn't help but admiring that quality in her. She was just such a special person.

Early on the night she was murdered, my phone rang. It was Sharon. She asked me to come over. I told her I couldn't, that I was having a few people in for dinner. Then she said, 'Can I come over to your house?' I said, sure, of course, come on over. But a little while later she called and said she wasn't coming. She was too tired, she said. She'd decided just to go over to a local drive-in and get a hamburger. I told her that was silly. In the time it took her to drive to the restaurant she could come over to my place. And I asked her to spend the night. But Sharon said no. She had to do her hair. She thought she'd better stay home. She was so lonely, she said, she missed Roman and she was so tired. She decided not to come.

The next morning my phone rang. It was a girlfriend of mine named Mary Ann Gordon calling. She had met Sharon and she knew how close we were. She just said, 'How are you?' But I could tell she had been crying. I said, 'I'm fine. What's the matter?' She couldn't talk. She handed the phone to her boyfriend. And he told me.

I couldn't believe it. I just hung up and I was totally in shock.

Fred and I went to the funeral together. When the day was over, we talked about our problems and discovered that they were nothing compared with our love for each other. Without saying it in so many words, both of us realized how precious life together was. And how precious our baby was to us. It was Sharon's death which brought us closer. It was almost as if, in death, she was telling us all how much it meant to be able to live.

I never really stopped to think about it until now, but for the past six years so many good things have happened to me were because of my friendship with Sharon. She was always there. When I went to the hospital to have the baby, Sharon was the first person to come see me. She was so thrilled when I asked her to be the godmother and when she knew the baby's middle name was for her.

And when I got home, Sharon sent so many things for the baby. Come, I'll show you." Sheliah took me into Amanda Tate's nursery. She pointed to the mobile over the crib, a big candy clown standing on a tiny white table, a stuffed dog. "There's just so much of Sharon here." She opened the bottom drawer of the baby's dresser and pulled out a tiny yellow-flowered outfit. She took it. 'See it has bells on it that jingle. Sharon brought that over just two weeks ago. She got it for the baby in Europe.

The same day she brought the baby's dress, she came loaded down with swatches of fabrics. She was decorating her own baby's nursery. She wanted me to look at the colors she had picked out. She had selected red, white and blue.

She was just so anxious that everything be right for her baby. That's all she talked about. She used to kid about it. She's say, 'Won't it be terrible if the baby is born with my brains and Roman's looks!' Then we'd giggle"

The red, white and blue nursery colors reminded this reporter of reading about the murder scene and how there was an American flag draped over Sharon's sofa. I asked about it. Sheliah nodded. "Yes, it's true, there was a flag draped over the back of the sofa. It had been there ever since Voityck and Gibby (Abigail Folger) moved in. It belonged to them. Whenever I went over to Sharon's and I'd see the flag there, I'd tell her it wasn't right. She'd nod and say she knew, but that Gibby and Voityck thought it was funny.

That was Sharon. She knew that the others were making fun of the flag, of the establishment. She didn't go along with it, but felt she might hurt them if she took it away.

That's what I mean about Sharon being so impressionable, so vulnerable, so easily swayed. She'd just accept people for what they were. She got involved with some very odd types because she thought she could help them. But all the while it was Sharon herself who needed the help.

You know, in just the last few months Sharon was beginning to come into her own. She never cared about being beautiful. She never even really cared about acting. She just wanted to love and be loved. And have her baby.

I know that if she'd lived and had the baby everything would have been different for her. Because that is what Sharon really wanted. She was just a little girl from Texas who was so incredibly beautiful that she got swept up in all of the Hollywood nonsense. But all she ever wanted was what every woman wants - a man to love and a baby of her own.

I can't believe that the murderers knew her. To know Sharon, to really know her, was to love her. There is just no way that anyone who knew her could have hurt her so.

Sheliah picked up little Amanda Tate and walked me to the door. She hugged her baby tight. "You know, Wende Mitchum has a little baby, and I have Amanda, and all Sharon was waiting for was the day when the three of us could bring our babies up together. They would have been friends, close friends. Just like we were.