Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Follow up on Filippo Tenerelli

I have done quite a bit of research on Filippo Tenerelli since Eviliz's last post on him which was contributed by Ole JC. I didn't go solo with my research either but had input from Patty, Ole JC, Trilby and a few comments that were made by our readers. 

The issue for me was to try to determine whether or not Filippo was indeed a Gypsy Joker and I now have that answer.  I certainly have not found all the answers to the questions surrounding Filippo but have learned a bit more about him.   There was a bonus, too, another bit of ES/BS came to light, read on!

One of the first things I did was to send for Filippo's death certificate.  From this I learned that he was 23 years old when he died, his birthday was November 4, 1945.  He lived in Culver City with his parents at the same address which is on his naturalization papers.  He was born in Italy and had been in the US for 10 years.  His parents were Giovanni and Caterina Tenerelli both of whom were born in Italy.

He was a tool and die maker who had held that job for three years at a place named Randall Company.  The company made airplane parts.

The address of the motel where Filippo died was 636 N. Main St. Bishop CA.  Upon looking up the address on Google maps I found  there is now a Holiday Inn at that address.  So I searched for and found a vintage postcard with a picture of the motel that used to be in that spot.  The postcard is from 1959 but I suspect that 10 years later when Filippo checked in it was much the same as on the postcard.

Next I started reading what others had written online about Filippo.  Most was the same everywhere but there was a post by someone at Cats' that said Filippo was a Gypsy Joker with the name of Dago.  Cats replied to the poster that Sanders mentions a Gypsy Joker named Dago in the first edition of his book, in the chapter that Sanders wrote about The Process that was removed in subsequent editions.  I checked and Sanders did mention Dago, page 115 if you have that edition.  Those posts are here-

Trilby told me about a new book out by Meg and Phil Cross who founded the San Jose chapter of the Gypsy Jokers.  The book is called "Phil Cross: Gypsy Joker to a Hells Angel".  Phil was the club photographer, among other things, and the book has dozens of pictures.  And bless Phil Cross, there is a picture of Dago!  He is the one sitting on the bike in the picture.  (If this is a subject that interests you, I definitely recommend the book.  )

Phil did not date the picture of Dago so off to find a history of the bar, Chateau Liberte, where the picture was taken and I found that here-  This bar has a very interesting history involving the rock musicians that played and recorded there.

The bar had a couple of "Chateau" names before it was known as Chateau Liberte and became a biker bar.  It did not have that name until 1971.  So, since Filippo died in 1969 he could not have been Dago who was the Gypsy Joker.  This journey was a bit of a rabbit hole, but it was a fun rabbit hole and it is probably just as important to verify and document the misinformation as it is to verify and document the  truth.

To learn with absolute certainty if Filippo was or was not a Gypsy Joker, regardless of a nickname, I decided to contact Phil Cross.  Phil sent me a reply which should put this to rest.... forever.
Hi Deborah,

I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

In answer to your question, Dago's name was Donald Ragante, and there was no Gypsy Joker named Filippo Tenerelli.

I have no problem with you posting my photo of Dago at the Chateau.

One other thing you might post is that Ed Sanders statement that the Gypsy Jokers were "heavily into the occult" is complete bullshit.  We could have cared less about any of that shit.  We rode, partied and fought, and that's what we lived for.


Phil Cross


St. Circumstance said...

Deb gets to the bottom of it lol

Should anyone be surprised at this point?

Great stuff!

Suze said...

Another fairy tale put to rest. Great work, Deb!!!

Suze said...

By the way, the real Dago looks like he smelled very very bad!

AustinAnn74 said...

Deb, you are a helluva good researcher! So, what are your conclusions regarding FT? Could it be possible that he died at the hands of Manson & company, or did he do himself in? Fascinating!!

CarolMR said...

Thanks, Deb!

Matt said...

Great job, Deb. Looks less and less like a Manson related incident.

Thank you to Phil Cross for clearing things up a bit, too.

orwhut said...

Really good work, Deb and team.

Farflung said...

A rare moment of clarity in the land of Mansonia. Logical, linear, and without manipulation or monetization aforethought.

DebS and ‘posse’ have truly dazzled with the collective filtration of this subject. Well done.

I also found the parlance of Mr. Cross to be quite refreshing, as evidenced when he ever so delicately referenced the Gypsy Joker’s association with the occult as: “complete bullshit”.

It is important to document the misinformation, otherwise it will become a source of validation in the future, or at minimum another oft quoted bit of data framed as “I read somewhere….” But lore is extremely difficult to cure since it will wait in the weeds; patient and unblinking. Then with the passage of time and a need to buttress some preselected conclusion, the myth will begin to twitch and move on the coroner’s table, and like Frankenstein’s monster break out of the lab to terrorize villagers who will have to kill it with flame…. again.

Doc Sierra said...

Dang Deb, you're good.....

Patty is Dead said...

Beauders will be so pleased! This one was bugging her some, Patty seems to remember.

DebS said...

Thank you everyone! I really enjoy researching and getting at the truth.

I'm 50/50 on whether or not anyone in the Manson Family could have killed Tenerelli. The question for me would be, what did they have to gain by killing him? Was Tenerelli carrying a large amount of cash?

I would also like to know if Tenerelli had any injuries that would have been consistant with having been in a car that went 50' down a cliff. An autopsy report would show this but getting that might be difficult. The only injury that is stated on the death certificate is the fatal one.

There were bloodstains found on the seat of the car when it was found, the quantity unknown. Was the blood typed and matched to Tenerelli or could the blood have come from someone else with the same blood type? They did not have DNA testing back then. Testing was pretty basic.

Did Tenerelli have his car when he checked into the motel? Motels usually noted a car's license plate when someone checked in.

I could come up with a scenario where Tenerelli was murdered, his car then stolen and wrecked that would be quite plausible but with so many unknown facts it would be pointless to speculate.

When Tenerelli bought the shotgun and ammo in Bishop he also bought a gun cleaning kit to go with it. Why would he do that if all he intended to do with the shotgun was to commit suicide?

Sun King said...

Really got to the bottom of this one and set some facts straight! Kudos to Deb.

Also nice to not only find out the motel he stayed at but to also see a picture of what it looked like in that era.

Farflung said...

DebS pondered:

“When Tenerelli bought the shotgun and ammo in Bishop he also bought a gun cleaning kit to go with it. Why would he do that if all he intended to do with the shotgun was to commit suicide?”

Was the purchase of the cleaning kit active? I need a shotgun, shells… Oh! and a cleaning kit.

Or passive? Salesman- I’m sure you’ll want a cleaning kit to go with that new gun; Hoppe’s are half off today.

Would a person actually maintain their ‘eye for value’ when their next act will be their final? Did he also purchase a case for the shotgun, or carry it around au natural? Why bother with a case? The purchase could have been packaged rather than a la carte also. After muddling through all that, why would someone from Culver City purchase any guns in Bishop? Was he simply on a mission after a failed ‘Thelma & Louise’ attempt sans Louise, at Crowley’s Point?

DebS said...

Farf I considered a hard sell by the salesperson, too. Just don't know. This is the article that I got my info from.

It seems that Tenerelli was not identified for a period of time. Don't know how long because the article linked is not dated or sourced. Looking at the dates on the death certificate it appears that it was not issued for almost a full month after he died. Did he go unidentified for that amount of time? Was there a missing persons report filed by his parents or his employer?

Did he go alone out to the desert? Did he pickup a hitchhiker? How was it determined that it was actually Tenerelli who bought the shotgun? I don't think he would have been identifiable to the clerk who sold the shotgun after the shooting. There could be some simple answers to some of these questions.

While I was pleased to learn what I did, it opened up about a jillion more questions for me. One thing that keeps me interested is the Tex Tapes and speculation that Tenerelli's death was one that was hoped to be on the tapes. Will we ever learn what is on them????

Patty is Dead said...

@Deb: yeah! What's on them tapes? Let's hope its not another "Al Capone's Vault."

Also thanks for all you do. xx

Matt said...

Deb is our Chief Assassin!

Cuntry Trash said...

Even though Sanders' The Family was a good read, a good story, the more that comes out in the case the more I believe he was so full of shit. Good work on this one.

Cuntry Trash said...

DebS: Regarding Tenerelli being killed by the Mansons, here is my take on it" Why was Tenerelli in Death Valley? It would be good to know if he had family or friends here.
Sometimes I believe firmly that he killed himself, but I was thinking as to WHY he was so far away from home. He seemed to have hiss life on track with family and a seemingly good job.
I don't see him driving to Death Valley to kill himself.

Chris Till said...

That was an interesting read. Phil Cross, aka Mr. Fillmore Raymond Cross Jr., was #403 on the FBI Most Wanted List back in 1986. Wanted for something like extortion and felonious assault, his interests, according to the FBI, included "motorcycles, ancient Mexican artifacts, wine, expensive automobiles, and rattlesnakes."

Farflung said...

DebS asked:

“How was it determined that it was actually Tenerelli who bought the shotgun?”

Farf responds with:

I was assuming the gun shop sales person would have known his identity since the freshly passed Gun Control Act of 1968 required:

“The federal ban on sales to minors was supported by a regulation requiring the dealer to verify the customer’s age by inspecting a document that shows the age on its face.”

I had figured the GCA combined with the Form 4473, were used to ID who purchased the shotgun, and pretty much narrowed the possibilities. Had a shotgun been purchased at a garage sale or out of the classified ads from a private party, then there wouldn’t be a paper trail. The transaction at the sporting goods store ‘should’ have kept the scope somewhat limited and slightly less mysterious.

Anonymous said...
Check it out!!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...


Doc Sierra said...

Have a great birthday Deb!

MrsMatt said...

Happy Birthday, Deb - you are the best!

Patty is Dead said...

@Josh: That is waaaaay cool! Did Michael design it himself? Very professional looking. :)