Friday, August 16, 2013

Fillipo Tenerelli


I recently took a tour of Death Valley and surrounding areas and one thing that I wanted to check out on my travels was Bishop, California and trying to get more information on Fillipo Tenerelli. For some reason information on this case is very vague and perhaps it's because it's still considered an open and cold case.

Visiting Bishop, California I quickly realized that there were a lot of motels so finding the one Tenerelli was found dead in was impossible. I did notice a few motels that looked like they could have been around in 1969 like, The Mountainview, The Trees and the Bishop Elms. But there's no guarantee that the motel he was found in is still even around.

One other stop was where Tenerelli's VW was discarded, Father Crowley Vista. Again, there's not much here but a highway and a sheer cliff that made my stomach knot up looking over. But what did strike me as interesting was that Father Crowley Vista was nearly half way between Bishop and Barker Ranch, on the same route - no deviations.

I have read many of the Manson blogs talk about this death and some of them go as far to say that there's no way that it could be a Manson-related murder because of the distance. So untrue. Bishop to Barker Ranch is 150 miles. For those of us who have driven these desert roads, we all know that at some stretches you can easily go 80 - 95mph (though there are certain areas where it is impossible to go over 30 unless you want to go over a rail and plummet to your death much like Tenerelli's VW.) Even at proper speeds, that is 4 hours. Speeding it will be a lot less time.

One of the Mansons could have easily did Tenerelli in, drove 100 miles to Father Crowley Vista and disposed of the VW, and then headed the final 50 miles to Barker Ranch. The route is simple: 395 to 195 and then down Panamint Valley Road which is the Goler Wash access to Barker Ranch. However, there was a record flood in 1969, and Panamint Valley Road generally floods out during any flood. Going through the Mengel Pass route would add a few more hours (due to the slow speeds).

Ed Sanders wrote in his book The Family that Charles Manson did associate with the Gypsy Jokers, mostly in  San Jose. Tenerelli was a Gypsy Joker, so the connection is there. Tenerelli also lived in Culver City, which is about half way between Hollywood and Beverly Hills. It's really hard to take it as a coincidence that Tenerelli was from Los Angeles, and a Gypsy Joker AND was in the vicinity of Death Valley.

I should also point out that Ed Sanders wrote that the Gypsy Jokers were heavily into the occult, and Sanders made the point to mention that Tenerelli's VW was discarded over Father Crowley Vista, which is obviously a similar name to Aleister Crowley. Manson was apprehended October 12, 1969 which was Aleister Crowley's birthday. Odd parallels, but they are always worth mentioning.

I personally think that it would have been easy for someone like Tex Watson to get Tenerelli, stage his death to look like a suicide and then put his car over the mountainside to get rid of it. But even though Tenerelli's death was supposed to look like a suicide, and was ruled one at first, his blood was in that car that went over the ravine and his death has since been tagged as a homicide. So whoever got rid of the car was no career criminal - unless they expected the car to crash and explode like in the movies, thus getting rid of the blood evidence.

Tenerelli was killed October 2, 1969 and Tex Watson fled Barker Ranch October 3, 1969. Watson stayed in Olancha, which is directly south of Bishop on 395 so Watson knew that area. That makes Watson a viable suspect.

I am sure the authorities have taken all of these parallels into consideration and more than likely one of the reasons they were so adamant about obtaining the Watson tapes. Hopefully this case can one day be solved and since Tenerelli was involved with a gang like the Gypsy Jokers, his death more than likely a result of that lifestyle. But, that said lifestyle may have been why may have associated with Watson, the Family or even Manson.

DebS here to add a little something.  Thanks JC for checking all this out and reporting back to us! 

After Liz set up this post I wanted to make sure that the victim's name was spelled correctly so I went to Ancestry . com to check that out.  I found that Filippo Tenerelli's name was spelled a couple of different ways, so any misspelling of the name has not been done out of disrespect.

What I did find was very interesting.  Tenerelli was a naturalized US citizen and he had just been naturalized the July before he was killed.  I find it hard to believe that he could become a US citizen and be in the Gypsy Jokers.  They do pretty thorough background checks and I really don't think that a 1%'er would pass the sniff test.  I emailed JC about this, he agreed and said I could add the info to his post.

Though the name is spelled slightly different on the two records the birth date is the same.  The naturalization record gives a Culver City address and the newspaper articles about Tenerelli say that he was from Culver City.