Thursday, July 18, 2013

Teflon Charlie

Long Beach CA
December 4, 1969

By Mary Neiswender
staff writer

"He reminded me of an old car.... you knew things were going to keep going wrong with it, but you kept trying to repair it."

This was the impression that hippie cult leader Charles Manson left with most guards of the federal prison on Terminal Island and with one in particular Guard Henry Tippett of 2577 Jefferson St., Long Beach, now retired, watched over the self-styled Messiah during his almost three years in the prison.

Manson's sentence in Terminal Island followed conviction of transporting a stolen car across state lines, and parole violation.

Manson- apparently a Svengali even in prison, Tippett said- charmed the then associate warden, who made him a trustee.

"The officers who had contact with him didn't agree with the warden," said Tippett.  "We opposed making him a trustee.  If you work in prison long enough, you get to know these things, especially with this guy's background."

Tippett, who retired in 1959- a year after Manson was released- claimed Manson had a tendency to break the rules.

"He was always doing things wrong- anything to violate the rules.  It seemed intentional.  It wasn't because he was dumb," Tippett said.

"Fro example, a simple thing like being assigned to a dormitory.  Manson wouldn't stay in one dorm.  He'd switch around just to annoy the guards."

Tippett said the guards quit "writing him up" because Manson was never disciplined.

"He would have been in isolation all the time if the warden paid attention to the guards," Tippett added.

Tippett, who was previously at Leavenworth Prison, Kansas, claimed the even older inmates who associated with the then 22-year old Manson eventually ended up in "trouble."

"But he apparently charmed one of the associate wardens," said Tippett.  "The warden him on one job, then another- never doing anything."  Finally, say Tippett went before the classification board and became a trustee.

"I guess they felt they could make something out of him," he added, "but most of us - the ones who saw him in action- felt he wouldn't last long as a trustee."  Manson didn't.

Assigned to clean-up work at the adjacent Coast Guard base, Manson got into a locker room, outfitted himself in new clothing, picked up some car keys.

Ironically, he was caught at a roadblock near San Francisco shortly after his escape by police who weren't even looking for him.

Manson was returned to the prison, where he stayed until his release in 1958.

He had a few "followers" at that time, Tippett said.  "Most of the other inmates stayed away from him."  Not so today.

The bearded, long haired leader of the cult suspected of the Tate killings and "at least 10 others" has a following whose loyalty is hard to believe.

Held in the Inyo County jail for 10 days awaiting preliminary hearings on a charge of receiving stolen property, he "still runs his 'family' in jail,"  say the officers.

"'They' are the remnants of his gang in the desert area -- three men in a large cell with him, and one woman in a separate part of the jail.

"We find Manson a model prisoner though," added the officers.  "But he should be by now.  He has been in and out of jail since he was 15."

Manson was first arrested on an adult charge in 1951, in Beaver, Utah, for taking a stolen car across a state line (a federal offense).  He was sent to National Training School for Boys in Washington D.C., then transferred to the federal reformatory at Petersburg, Pa.

In 1955 he was arrested for auto theft in Los Angeles and given a five years' probation; he violated his federal probation a year later in Indianapolis and was sent to the Terminal Island prison.

When released in 1958, he was picked up for a vehicle code violation in Los Angeles.  The following year he was arrested for auto theft, and later in the year for forgery.  In 1960 he was arrested in Laredo, Tex., for transporting women across a state line for immoral purposes (another federal offense).

In 1967 he was arrested in Ukiah for interfering with an officer; in 1968 in Ventura for having a false driver's license.

In 1969 his Los Angeles arrests included possession of marijuana; assault with intent to commit bodily harm, later changed to forcible rape; auto theft; burglary; cultivation and possession of marijuana, and the final charges for which he is currently in jail; contributing to the delinquency of a minor, firearm theft, receiving stolen property and auto theft.

At his preliminary hearing Wednesday, some of his followers were in the audience lending him moral support; others in jail spoke out in his defense.

Some of his followers have even said they would kill for him -- and they allegedly did.