Monday, March 25, 2013

An Interview With Karl Stubbs' Neighbor

On Sunday, March 17, I spoke with Kathleen Costello (not her real name), who was a friend and neighbor of Karl Stubbs in Olancha, CA.

Starting at the beginning: The assault on Mr. Stubbs happened on November 12, 1968. He died on Nov. 15.  Our impression at Eviliz was that Karl Stubbs was blind, but according to Kathleen, Mr. Stubbs was a strapping 6’+ man (even at age 82) who got around just fine on his own. He was not blind. After the attack, his eyes were swollen shut and his head was swollen, which is what contributed to the myth that he was blind. He was also completely lucid the day after the attack.

According to police reports, there was a white car containing 2 young men and 2 young women with Indiana license plates seen in Ridgecrest 1 hour after the report of the attack. Karl Stubbs described his attackers as being 2 young men and 2 young women.  

According to Kathleen, Karl made his living during his prime as a railroad worker and now lived on a pension. He walked to the nearby store and paid for his groceries, etc. with cash that he kept in his bib overalls. The assumption may have been that these 4 young people may have seen him in the store and thought he had a lot of money and made him a robbery target. But, according to Kathleen he had very little money, and survived by selling small amounts of his acreage over the years -some of which Kathleen and her husband purchased.

On the morning of the attack, on her way to work, Kathleen drove past Mr. Stubbs’ driveway and saw a white car there. She took notice of this, as Mr. Stubbs did not drive or often receive visitors. Another woman, Clara Castner, who with her husband owned the service station, used to bring Mr. Stubbs’ mail to him daily. On this day, there were people in his house: 2 young men and 2 young women. Stubbs said they were there to get water or something.  Helping people was normal for him, and she didn’t think he was under duress at the time, so she felt comfortable leaving.

After he was attacked and beaten, Mr. Stubbs crawled to Kathleen’s house. Her husband Jim (Jim died in 1990) and Clara Caster (also a neighbor) found him in the driveway.  They called 911, then sat with Karl until the ambulance arrived. He told all parties present that when the men kicked him, the girls laughed. They thought he had money hidden somewhere, but he didn’t..

Over one year later as the TLB trial became national news, Clara recognized Tex as being one of the ones in the house.  That’s when it clicked for her. A lot of people thought that Clara Castner was nuts. “But she wasn’t crazy. Her religion was odd and she talked about things that people didn’t understand. But she was not crazy. She was a school teacher for a long time. She just had religious beliefs that were different than ours”.

As far as Hannum Ranch is concerned, Kathleen does not remember it as ever being a working ranch but more as just a property spread. She remembers David Hannum (who worked at Spahn, hence the connection with the Manson Family) very outgoing and verbal. Not crazy. He was just a nice young man. Joy and Roy Hunter who owned and lived for a time at Hannum Ranch were his aunt and uncle. She says David, their nephew could not have possibly been involved in the nefarious activities surrounding the Family. She also firmly believes that David had the authority to allow them to park the tractor trailer(s) there to use it as a staging area to run supplies to Barker Ranch. He was also the person that was able to allow Tex & Snake the ability to stay there after the TLB murders although he had no knowledge of those crimes. Although Kathleen said might be able to find David through Joy (his aunt), the MansonBlog staff has found evidence that he died back in June of 1998.


eviliz said...

Poor Carl.

Farflung said...

I noticed how Kathleen refined the use of the word ranch in regard to the Hannum property. Sort of exposes how suburban diction is somewhat sloppy and imprecise. Like the way anything with four legs, in a field, is called a ‘cow’. I don’t know who thought the Barker ‘claim’ was a ranch since it was never used for grazing, had livestock, a barn, or corral. But once in the lexicon, it was there to stay.

I’ve read several articles where Tex and Grogan were bemoaning how much manure they had to shovel and how much work they did at Spahn’s. Really?? There were around a dozen and a half adults blundering around that property with Tex and Grogan being overworked? The average person who lived on a similar sized operation would recognize the amount of BS being spread about manure shoveling in Chatsworth.

This sticks out like a baseball referee, a seventh down, or a holding penalty in tennis. If you’re not too familiar with the sport, then the jargon could sound convincing. If you are familiar, then it sounds absurd and farcical. Same, same, GI.

Your average Hick can surmise the size of a herd by the size of the haystack on the property. He or she would also know how long it would take to gather and stack that much hay (Spahn’s 2 – 3 days per year) with one man and a couple boys. And since in all likelihood you handled the input (storing hay bales), you would possess a deep knowledge about the amount of output (manure).

Now that’s not to say that rural people haven’t intentionally butchered a phrase in order to make a buck, no sir. Ever heard of a Cornish Game Hen? Well they aren’t Cornish, game or even typically hens. Bon appetit.

Leigh said...

Very interesting. This blog does dig deep and get people to talk and that is appreciated.

We'll never know for sure, but it's definitely not beyond the realm of imagination or possibility for Tex to have been involved in the Stubbs murder. In the impression of him that I took away from his own words in his own book, he seems to have been a greedy pleasure/thrill-seeker even without Manson. He liked money and had no qualms about ripping people off, as in the cases of burning Lotsapoppa and encouraging/goading/conspiring with Linda to rip off $5000 from a friend. He was dealing drugs before he fell in with Manson, when he had every advantage (unlike Manson) and plenty of potential to have done something more constructive with himself. Given the ferocity and carnage of TLB, I can imagine him as a thrill killer in other situations. And though Tex wasn't involved in Hinman, as we can see from that the whole "thinking he had money so deciding to rob him but ultimately killing him" thing wasn't exactly outside the scope of Family activities.

Tex just seemed (and seems) like such an amoral, directionless, empty guy...I can't really put it into adequate words. Meeting Manson obviously wasn't a positive event for his character development and the trajectory of his life, but it seems he was already missing something fundamental way before that. Though I do have a visceral loathing for the man, so any post facto feelings I have about him have to be understood with that in mind.

Unknown said...

I agree with Leigh. I dont buy that Tex went bad because of Manson and that he followed him blindly. The drug burns and he seemed to come and go when he wanted. Also, i remember reading how he and i think Susan was secretly doing speed and did it on the night of the murders too. To me, this guy was already bad news, Manson may have brought it out of him a little more.

Intense said...

Or perhaps he brought it out of manson...

Katie said...

Being that Karl Stubbs was my neighbor for 4 years. And I used to go over watch TV with him. He made sure I did not like green tea just by feeding me that lol. Kathleen I loved her. Anyway we moved a year before Carl Stubbs was killed. But a wonderful lady that used to take care of him. Saw one man and a woman Identified him by pictures text Watson that is. But she told the police that she would go to jail even the pen before she would testify in court. Just so you know we only moved 3 miles to Cartago to a gas station.