Photo courtesy Robert Hendrickson
Compounding this lack of concern for potential victims was my discovery of a hand written "help" note left behind by a possible hostage. After our trip, with members of the Family to their Death Valley hideout, Craig and I alone, later made another trip to Barker's, but this time with a dune buggy up the more difficult Golar Wash canyon. The other difference was, this time, the scorching desert heat was fast approaching. Also, this time we could do some investigating on our own, without the watchful eyes of the Manson Family. Strange as it seems now, there are only two things I remember about the abandoned Ranch from that trip.After entering an old out building, (can be seen as Gypsy points it out in the new Manson Gang film) I found a piece of paper with handwriting on it. I took it back outside and read it. It was a note, apparently written by a daughter in hopes that it may find its way home to her mother. Somewhat desperate in its tone, I realized that the game of making a movie about the Manson Gang, wasn't a game anymore. Many thoughts were now crossing my mind, as Craig and I had a bite to eat. Also exhausted, after lunch we decided to take a nap on the ranch house front porch.It must have been a hour or so later, when we awoke to the most God awful smell that anyone could possibly have imagined. The next thing we realized, was that it must have been at least 120 degrees, and we were in the shade. I'm sure that the troubling note found earlier had played some tricks on my mind, but without any question, we understood that the horrible smell could only be coming from a dead body. Craig quickly fired up the dune buggy and I, almost in a panic mode, returned the note to its original resting place. With breakneck speed two young filmmakers got the Hell out of there.
One of the possible grave sites sites is about 50 feet away from where Hendickson was sitting on the front porch when he smelled it. Since it was soon after the arrests there would still be a lot of soft tissue decomposition going on (very smelly) and in that sandy soil, it would migrate up very easily. According to one of our sources who went to the Barker Ranch in 1969, there is about two feet of alluvial deposition on that spot since 1969. If there is a serious dig it must be much deeper than the 3-4 feet that was previously allowed.